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AGS
Ags logo (F1).png
Full name FranceAutomobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives
Base FranceGonfaron, France
Founder(s) FranceHenri Julien
Noted staff FranceCyril de Rouvre
FrancePatrizio Cantù
FranceHughes de Chaunac
FranceGabriele Raffanelli
FranceChristian Vanderpleyn
Noted drivers ItalyIvan Capelli
FrancePascal Fabre
BrazilRoberto Moreno
FrancePhilippe Streiff
GermanyJoachim Winkelhock
ItalyGabriele Tarquini
FranceYannick Dalmas
SwedenStefan Johansson
ItalyFabrizio Barbazza
FranceOlivier Grouillard
Formula One World Championship career
Engines Motori Moderni, Cosworth
Debut 1986 Italian Grand Prix
Races competed 80
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0
Race victories 0
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
Final race 1991 Spanish Grand Prix

Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives ("AGS" or Gonfaron Sports Cars) was a small French racecar constructor, who competed in various racing categories over a period of 30 years, including Formula One from 1986 to 1991.

Contents

Foundation

The team was founded by the French mechanic, Henri Julien, who ran a filling station - the "Garage de l'Avenir" in a picturesque provincial village called Gonfaron. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Julien regularly attended racing events in minor classes. He was a mediocre driver but showed a degree of technical knowledge. As a result, he eventually changed his profession to constructing racing cars.

First Car

His first car, the AGS JH1, saw the light of day in 1969. It was a petite monoposto, dedicated to the "Formule France". The car was designed by Julien's former apprentice, the Belgian mechanic Christian Vanderpleyn who had been with the garage (and the racing team) since the very late 1950s and who would stay on until 1988. Soon, AGS went ahead and produced its own Formula 3 cars which were ambitious but not good enough to compete seriously with the state-of-art Martinis which dominated that series in the 1970s.

Formula 2

AGS took another step ahead in 1978 when the it team bravely started competing in the European Formula 2. Still, the car - by now the AGS JH15 - was self-penned (by Vanderpleyn), self-built and self-run. Formula 2 was a difficult task for the small team, racing 1978 and 1979 without scoring any championship points. The early 1980s were somewhat better. AGS was one of the few teams who ran its own cars (Maurer, Minardi and Merzario were the others), and eventually the team was able to score points regularly. Soon some victories came, too. AGS made history when works driver Philippe Streiff won the final race of Formula 2 in 1984, using an AGS JH 19C.

Formula 3000

In 1985, AGS switched to Formula 3000 (originally with a chassis built by the Duqueine brothers) but Julien was not content with the regulations and organisation of the new series, so he started thinking about taking another step ahead into top-class motor racing.

Formula One

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Beginnings

By late summer 1986, it was done: AGS entered the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, its very first Formula One race. The structure was somewhat bizarre: The team had no more than 7 employees and was still operated from the Garage de l'Avenir in Gonfaron. Compare this to the situation at Williams, McLaren or Ferrari which, even in those days had much more extensive facilities.

AGS appeared with a car that was once again penned by Vanderpleyn. The JH21C was a strange mixture between former AGS F3000 vehicles and Renault F1 parts which were used extensively. The car was powered by a well-used Motori Moderni Turbo engine (the only time these Carlo Chiti-developed engines were given to a customer team) and driven by newcomer Ivan Capelli. A few weeks before, the car had been tested by Didier Pironi who drove an F1 car for the first time since his awful accident in 1982, but decided against a return. Due to technical difficulties, neither in its first attempt nor in the following race in Portugal did Capelli see the finish.

In 1987, the car which was otherwise much the same as before was prepared to use a normally aspirated Cosworth DFZ. Team driver Pascal Fabre was a newcomer. He was a reliable driver, finishing his first seven races and retiring only twice during his tenure. However, he never was in serious contention for scoring points and failed to qualify on three occasions. AGS improved in their last two races of the season when Fabre was replaced by the Brazilian Roberto Moreno (who saw his first chance in Formula One since 1982 when he had failed to qualify a Lotus works car). In Adelaide, Moreno scored the first championship point for AGS, which meant that the team finished the season equal on points with the better-financed Ligier and the returning March team.

Takeover

In 1988, AGS started with a new car and Philippe Streiff as the team's only driver. Streiff drove quite powerfully and qualified well, but he saw the chequered flag only four times; in all the other events of that year technical failures or accidents were recorded. Financially, the year started well and ended with a disaster. AGS had a solid sponsor - the French Bouygues group - which promised to support not only the racing activity but also the completion of a new factory outside Gonfaron. After AGS had started work on the new facility, Bouygues withdraw from the team, leaving Julien without any support. To save the team, he eventually had to sell it to Cyril de Rouvre, a French entrepreneur with various ambitions.

Difficulties

Things went soon from bad to worse. The new team management changed frequently (Vanderpleyn for instance went to Coloni) and brought a lot of disorder. Worse was to come; Streiff was paralysed in a testing accident in Brazil before the 1989 season.

He was replaced with Gabriele Tarquini, who surprised with some great performances in the first half of the season. He was very close to the points in both the 1989 Monaco Grand Prix and 1989 United States Grand Prix, but retired in both races. Then things went better in the 1989 Mexican Grand Prix, where he finished sixth and scored his first point. But after these highlights, the team was never able to be as competitive again.

In the second part of the 1989 season, the team had to prequalify - a task that was nearly never achieved by Gabriele Tarquini and Yannick Dalmas. AGS then finished 15th in the Constructors' Championship, equal with the Lolas used by the Larrousse team. During the summer months, there were strong rumours that AGS would soon use a new W12 engine developed by the French designer Guy Nègre. This strange MGN (Moteurs Guy Nègre) machine saw the light of day in late 1988 and was tested in an old AGS chassis in the summer of 1989. It was clear that AGS was not related to these tests; they were completely private attempts by Nègre. The engine never found its way to a Grand Prix but it was announced to be used in a 1990 Le Mans car called Norma M6. That car was presented but never raced.

Finally, AGS had to use Cosworth engines again in 1990. That year brought no improvement at all, Dalmas's 9th in the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix was the best result and by the beginning of the 1991 season the team was obviously close to its end. The team lacked money. (At the first Grand Prix of 1991 in Phoenix the team didn't even have the money to buy lunch, and the staff had to pay for it out of their own pocket.). In the race itself, Tarquini finished 8th, which was the last finish ever of an AGS car. De Rouvre sold his team to some Italian entrepreneurs, Patrizio Cantù and Gabriele Raffanelli. Both changed little except for the driver line-up (Stefan Johansson was needlessly replaced with newcomer Fabrizio Barbazza) and the colours of the car (which were now blue, red and yellow instead of white). A new car was raced in the early autumn, but by then the team was in rags again, so the Italians closed the doors after the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix.

AGS survived as a prosperous Formula One driving school (in Le Luc, near Gonfaron). The Garage de l'Avenir is still in existence as well.

Complete Formula One results

(key) (results in bold indicate pole position)

Year Chassis Engine Tyres Drivers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Points WCC
1986 AGS JH21 Motori Moderni V6 (t/c) P BRA ESP SMR MON BEL CAN DET FRA GBR GER HUN AUT ITA POR MEX AUS 0 NC
Ivan Capelli Ret Ret
1987 AGS JH22 Ford V8 G BRA SMR BEL MON DET FRA GBR GER HUN AUT ITA POR ESP MEX JPN AUS 1 12th
Pascal Fabre 12 13 10 13 12 9 9 Ret 13 NC DNQ DNQ Ret DNQ
Roberto Moreno Ret 6
1988 AGS JH23 Ford V8 G BRA SMR MON MEX CAN DET FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS 0 NC
Philippe Streiff Ret 10 Ret 12 Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 10 Ret 9 Ret 8 11
1989 AGS JH23B
AGS JH24
Ford V8 G BRA SMR MON MEX USA CAN FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS 1 15th
Gabriele Tarquini 8 Ret 6 7 Ret Ret DNQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ
Joachim Winkelhock DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ
Yannick Dalmas DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ
1990 AGS JH24
AGS JH25
Ford V8 G USA BRA SMR MON CAN MEX FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS 0 NC
Gabriele Tarquini DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNQ Ret DNPQ 13 DNQ DNQ DNQ Ret DNQ Ret
Yannick Dalmas DNPQ Ret DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ 17 DNPQ DNQ DNQ DNQ NC Ret 9 DNQ DNQ
1991 AGS JH25B
AGS JH27
Ford V8 G USA BRA SMR MON CAN MEX FRA GBR GER HUN BEL ITA POR ESP JPN AUS 0 NC
Gabriele Tarquini 8 Ret DNQ Ret DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ
Olivier Grouillard DNPQ
Stefan Johansson DNQ DNQ
Fabrizio Barbazza DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ DNPQ

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