THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX.
OVERWHELMING VICTORY FOR DEL AGE IN THE 13th GRAND PRIZE OF THE AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE FRANCE.
WHEN Robert Benoist brought his 1500 c.c. straighteight Delage first over the line in the French Grand Prix at Montlhery, he scored the second win in the classic race for the French manufacturer. Louis Delage therefore now makes the fourth manufacturer with two wins to his credit, the others being the F.I.A.T. which won in 1907 and 1922, Mercedes with victories in 1908 and 1914, and Peugeot, which carried off the honours in 1912 and 1913. An interesting point in connection with these double wins is that each of the four firms has scored its two wins with the same driver. Georges Boillot, of course, raced consistently for Peugeot in 1912 and 1913; Robert Benoist has done the same for Delage since his first victory in 1925 ; but Mercecles had quite a long interval between their wins in 1908 and 1914, yet on the second occasion the winner was again Lautenschlager while after his victory in 1907, Felice Nazzaro left Fiat and became a manufacturer on his own, but it was not until his return in 1922 that the great Italian firm scored another win.
Benoist was followed home by his two team mates, Bourlier and Morel, who thus secured the first three places for Delage. So complete a victory has only once before been gained in the Grand Prix—in 1914, when Mercedes occupied the first three places. But the Delage performance is even more magnificent, for in 1914 five Mercedes started and only three finished, while this year three Delages started and scored a 100% victory. A colossal crowd estimated at about 100,000 people crushed their way into the grounds of the Autodrome at Montlhery on Sunday, 3rd July, to witness a race which was to feature the long-awaited event, a meeting between the three leading French racing car manufacturers,
Bugatti, Delage and Talbot. Then rumours began to circulate that Bugatti would not start, and when the cars were drawn up on the starting line, there were only the squat blue Talbots and Delages and the solitary green Halford Special. Bugatti, usually so popular, was reviled. There was booing and cries of ” Froussard 1″ but no Bugattis appeared. Various explanations of Bugatti’s absence have been put forward, but it is probable that if he had started the result of the race would not have been much altered, as his cars have not quite the speed of the Delages and Talbots. The annoyance of the crowd, however, was understandable. The writer himself once journeyed nearly 1,000 miles to see a race for which 21 cars were entered ; and when he got there, found only 6 starters ; and remembering his feelings on that occasion, can excuse those who cried, “II a peur ” to Ettore Bugatti. Just before one o’clock a curious hush fell over the
great crowd at Montlhery as Levine, the Atlantic flyer, stepped on to the track to give the signal to the seven waiting cars. He dropped the Tricolour, and Albert Divo, the French champion on Talbot I., shot to the front, with his great rival, Robert Benoist, on Delage I.
hot on his heels. Behind them came the two other Delages, W. G. Williams, the English driver of the second Talbot and G. E. T. Eyston on the Halford Special. Left on the starting line was the veteran Louis Wagner’s Talbot with an engine which refused to start. At last he too got away and dashed off in pursuit of the field.
He had hardly left when the first car appeared again ; it was Divo’s Talbot, and not 50 yards behind him came Benoist on the Delage, with Williams on the second Talbot third, and Boulier and Morel fourth and fifth. The Talbot-Delage duel was evidently going to be keen. For three laps Divo held the lead, and then on the fourth Benoist forced his Delage to the front. Meanwhile Wagner was making up time which he had lost at the start, and on the third lap clocked 78.5 m.p.h. for a
full circuit. The Halford was comparatively slow and was dropping steadily back. The leaders, however, were spending their time making lap records and breaking them. Williams soon proved himself the equal of the best known drivers by covering a lap at 81.25 m.p.h., but Benoist soon eclipsed this with 81.5 m.p.h., and finally set up a lap record for the Montlhery road circuit at 81.99 m.p.h. On the tenth round Williams, who was running second, stopped at the pits to change tyres and work on his petrol pump. This let Divo into second place and Bourlier (Delage) into third. Another lap, and Morel brought his Delage into the pits, for he also could not get the petrol through fast enough. Eyston had been in twice to change plugs, but even so the Halford could not catch up with the leaders in any wise. After twenty laps, the order was as follows :—
1. Benoist (Delage). 80.91 m.p.h. average.
2. Divo (Talbot).
3. Bourlier (Delage).
4. Wagner (Talbot).
5. Williams (Talbot).
6. Morel (Delage).
7. Eyston (Halford). After the twentieth round Bourlier came into the pits, filled up with petrol, changed all plugs and tyres, and got away again so smartly that he did not lose third place. A little later Divo came in, and while he was filling up, Bourlier got past him and gained second place. Divo made one more lap, and then reappeared with his engine misfiring badly. He changed all plugs, but this did not affect a cure, and he finally came to the conelusion that he had broken a valve and withdrew his car. With the fastest Talbot out of the race, things looked bright for Delage. After thirty laps the order was as follows :
1. Benoist (Delage).
2. Bourlier (Delage).
3. Wagner (Talbot).
4. Morel (Delage).
5. Williams (Talbot).
6. Eyston (Halford). ‘ After thirty-one laps, Benoist came in to fill up, and got away again without losing the lead: In the meantime Wagner had made several stops at the pits, but he was still only a lap behind and in a position to threaten
the leading Delages. Williams had turned his Talbot over to Moriceau, but it was not near the leaders, while the Halford after six pit stops was hopelessly in the rear. Forty-five miles from the end Wagner failed to reappear, his Talbot having broke down on the circuit with magneto trouble. This let Morel into third place, and the order thereafter was unchanged to the end, the three Delages coming home solid in the first three places. No one had expected so complete a victory, and, indeed, many would have prophesied Talbot as the victor. The Delages, however, now look as if they will be the racing cars of the year, and everyone will congratulate Louis Delage on the production of three such perfect machines. These cars have 5-speed gear-boxes with direct drive on 4th, a single supercharger is now used with a Cozette carburettor, and equipment included Dunlop tyres, a Bosch magneto, Champion plugs, Hartford shock absorbers and Rene Thomas steering wheels.