Robert Manzon

2021-02-23 23:00

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Robert Manzon

Robert Manzon was born in Marseille on April 12, 1917. The future French driver began his career as a mechanic, and thanks to the money earned he made


Robert Manzon was born in Marseille on April 12, 1917. The future French driver began his career as a mechanic, and thanks to the money earned he made his debut in the racing world in 1946 by participating in the Course des Alpes driving a Simca 8, resulting in the best in the category 1.100 cm³. The following year the man from Marseille will participate in the Robert Benoist Cup, in Nimes, aboard a Cisitalia D46, finishing third behind Wimille and the Sommer/Saugè duo but ahead of Shell and Gordini.


The second place in Angouleme, after winning the first heat and having obtained the fastest lap in the race, and the subsequent fourth place in Reims, allow Robert to gain consensus and attention, and especially that of Amédée Gordini. The 1948 season began for Manzon with a second position conquered in Perpignan, while in his first race with the Gordini team he finished third in Geneva. In the following years Robert will almost always remain in the French team, even if he judges the car to be unreliable. Despite the problems of the French car, Manzon still managed to win the time trial of Mont Ventoux three times in 1948, 1950 and 1952, but when the Formula 1 Championship was born in 1950, the team did not reap further satisfactions.


Robert is not present at the first Grand Prix in the history of Formula 1, but in the Monaco race the two Simca-Gordinis entrusted to him and to Trintignant manage to qualify for the race. Manzon takes eleventh place on the grid but his race ends soon, due to an accident that sees him involved in the Tobacconist curve. Subsequently, at the French Grand Prix he obtained an excellent fourth place. Meanwhile Robert also disputes some Formula 2 races, achieving a fifth place in Pau and a second in Roubaix. After a disastrous season in 1951, even 1952 will be no different, being characterized by many good performances both in Formula 1 (just remember that of the Swiss Grand Prix where he fought with Taruffi for a good part of the race, before retiring due to a mechanical failure. ) that in endurance races (at the 24 Hours of Le Mans he will be betrayed by another failure while dominating the race).


His luck finally assisted him at the Belgian Grand Prix, in the 1952 edition, as he obtained the first of his two career podiums in Formula 1; preceding it are the two Ferraris of Ascari and Farina. As another noteworthy finish, Robert will take fourth place at the French Grand Prix and fifth in the Netherlands. The growing performance of the French car bodes well for a satisfying 1953 but in the opening race, in Argentina, the car betrays him as he is fighting for the podium. Robert, disappointed, decides to leave the team and devotes himself to sports cars driving for Lancia. In 1953, at the wheel of the Lancia Aurelia, he finished third in Marrakech and second in the 1000 Kilometers of Monza, and in the same year he made his debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring, which, however, did not end.


In 1954 the French driver returned to Formula 1 with a private team, the Scuderia Rosier, which offered him the opportunity to drive a Ferrari, with which he won third place at the French Grand Prix, his second and last podium in Formula 1. In 1955 he returned to the team that had launched him, the Gordini, but the French cars are now scarcely competitive, and after two years of disappointment he decides to stop with Formula 1 to devote himself exclusively to Sports cars, despite winning two races not valid for the championship in Naples and Pescara. His obsession, as we know, has always been the conquest of the 24 Hours of Le Mans: the Marseillaise will take part in it six times but will never be able to see the finish line, and even in one case, in 1955, he will not even succeed. starting as Elie Bayol destroys the car during qualifying practice. In 1957, after retiring from an invalid race in Cuba, Robert decided to quit motoring, preferring to pursue an entrepreneurial career and founding a company that deals with diesel fuel. After his experience in this field too, Robert Manzon retires to Cassis where he died on January 19, 2015, at the age of ninety-seven.


Simone Centonze



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