EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX
Grand Slam for the Bugatti team in the Spa Race
IN accordance with almost universal expectation, the official Bugatti team scored a complete victory in the seventh race for the European Grand Prix, which was run off on the famous Belgian road circuit at Spa on Sunday, 20th July. So sure in fact was Ettore Bugatti himself of the result that he decided the order in which his team should finish beforehand, and gave first place to his great champion, Louis Chiron. Actually however, Chiron suffered from plug trouble, and Bouriat, the second meniber of the team could only avoid winning by stopping just before the finishing line and letting Chiron catch up. This exhibition annoyed the crowd quite a bit, and we are inclined to agree that this sort of thing represents carrying the team spirit to the point of absurdity. However, even if Bouriat was the moral victor, he officially finished second behind Chiron, with their team-mate, Albert Divo, third. The veteran, Arthur Duray, .0vas fourth on his little Aries, and behind him came two Imperias with the elder Montier on one of his marvellous Fords, sandwiched in between them.
In accordance with the rules laid down by the A.I.A.C.R., the race was run on a limited fuel consumption basis, the cars being limited to 14 litres of standard fuel supplied by the Belgian Club and consisting of 70% petrol and 30% benzol per 100 kilometres, or rather over 20 m.p.g. The distance of the race was 40 laps of the difficult and sporting Spa circuit, or a total of about 373 miles. It was rather surprising in view of the complete failure of the Automobile Club de France to collect any entries for its Grand Prix under similar rules, that as many as 15 cars presented themselves at the starting line. Only two teams, however, had been entered by their manufacturers, the Bugattis and the Itnperias. the remainder being cars belonging to enthusiastic amateurs. The starters were as follows :
Imperia I (Zehender).
Imperia II (Ledur).
Imperia III (Michel Dore).
Aries (Arthur Duray).
Ford I (Montier, Senior).
Ford II (Montier, Junior).
Bugatti I (Louis Chiron).
Bugatti II (Bouriat).
Bugatti III (Albert Divo).
Georges Irat (Burie).
Bugatti (Thirion). The Bugattis were 2-litre machines fitted with superchargers, while the Imperias were of the 1800 ‘c.c. 6cylinder slide-valve engined type, which performed with such regularity in the recent Belgian 24-hour race. Arthur Duray, who belongs to that very select band of men who drove in the old town-to-town races and who are still driving, was running his famous 4-year-old,
4-cylinder 1100 c.c. Aries, and the Fords were, of course, the remarkable machines which the Montier family have induced to go so quickly. The Georges Irat and the Lombard were more or less standard sports cars of 2 and 1 litre capacity respectively, while the Peugeot was the special 2i-1itre cuff-valve car with which Andre Boillot so nearly won the French Grand Prix at le Mans last year.
As soon as the start was given, Chiron shot to the front, closely followed by his two team mates, with the rest of the field following as best they could. It was soon obvious, in fact, that the official Bugattis were so definitely the fastest cars on the course that their capture of the first three places could be taken for granted, and the interest centred on who would gain the next few positions. Actually Stoffel on the Peugeot was giving them the best run for their money followed by Reinartz (Bugatti) and Duray, surprisingly fast on his little Aries. The Imperias were obviously not fast enough to threaten the leaders unless something very unexpected happened.
On the twelfth lap the first incident occurred to make the race exciting : Divo burst a tyre. Stoffel, who was awaiting his opportunity in fourth place, immediately moved up behind Bouriat, and the Bugatti team formation was broken. The rest continued except for Burie, whose Georges Irat after running well in seventh place was forced to retire. This let up Zehender on Imperia I, who thus encouraged, passed Duray and got into sixth place.
Then Chiron began to have trouble with his plugs. He came in and changed them, thus losing a minute and a half of his lead, and a few minutes later he was in again. Bouriat passed him, then Stoffel, and as the cars entered the last lap it looked as if the lone Peugeot was going to gain second place. But a fuel consumption race has many pitfalls, and 10 kilometres from the finish Stoffel ran out of petrol. Bouriat continued and just before the finishing line stopped to wait over a minute to let Chiron catch up. The final order was as follows :—
1. Louis Chiron (Bugatti), 5h. 8m. 34s. (Average_ speed 72.4 m.p.h.).
2. Bouriat (Bugatti), 5h. 9m. 34s.
3. Albert Divo (Bugatti), 5h. 13m. 54s.
4. Arthur Duray (Aries), 5h. 22m. 26s.
5. Zehender (Imperia), 5h. 25m. 19s.
6. Montier, Senior (Ford), 5h. 30m. 30s.
7. Ledur (Imperia), 5h. 41m. 47s. Of the remaining cars Cornet and Thirion on Bugattis
had fallen out on the 14th and 28th lap respectively.. The Imperias had obviously been prepared for the race rather hurriedly, and all three suffered from overheating, causing stops for water, while Dore was forced to retire on the 29th lap. They made a good impression, however, and their performance in future races will be watched with interest. The limited fuel rule took its toll, for as well as Stoffel, Montier Junior (Ford), Reinartz (Bugatti) and Gouvion (Lombard) all ran out of petrol just before the end.