THE GRAND P IX DE LA MARNE.
ETANCEL1N WINS BY 1/5th SECOND FROM W1MILLE, BOTH ON ALFA ROMEOS. Df,BUT OF WHITNEY STRAIGHT IN G.P. RACING RESULTS IN 4th PLACE. ESPECIAL significance was given to the 8th Grand Prix de la Marne by the fact that the entry-at any rate so far as the aces were concernedwas almost identical with that of the French Grand Prix in June. Campari (Maserati) and Etancelin (Alfa Romeo), between whom the result of the race at Montlhery has rested, were both on the entry list as were Nuvolari, Lehoux and
Chiron could not finish sonic modifications to his racing Alfa Romeo in time, and was a regretted absentee. From the British point of view, it was very satisfactory to know that we should have a representative in the field in Whit
ney Straight, with his 2,500 c.c. Maserati. Straight was evidently taking the race with sensible seriousness, for he arrived at Rheims a whole week before the actual day of the event, and immediately set about learning the circuit thoroughly, although the roads were not yet officially closed.
Guy Moll was the next on the scene, arriving on ‘Wednesday, June 28th -(the race was to be held on ;4unday, July 2nd). lun the drivers turned up thick and fast, the Germans, Pietsch and J ellen, both on Alfas, Brainard and Falchetto, two Bu-gattisti. They were followed by Etancelin, Lehoux, Sommer, ZehelIder, de Waldthausen, Wimile, Felix, Villars, and Zanelli. Campari arrived the night before the first day’s practise, in company with Biondetti, who was to drive instead of Minozzi.
Practice was allowed in the early morning from 5 o’clock to 8, and produced some very fast times. The rule of the starting positions being assessed on practice speeds made everyone go as fast as possible, and the best lap of the first day was made by Etancelin in 3m. 4 2/5s. As he climbed out of the cockpit the French driver confessed that for the first time in his 7 years experience of the Rheims circuit lie had been able to get round some of the fast curves without cutting out I Second fastest was Campari, on a 2-seater Maserati, with a time of 3m. 5 2/5s. The most laps were covered by Sommer, with a total of 200 kilomet rea. Having ‘become fully acquainted with the circuit Sommer left his car in charge of mechanics and took aeroplane for Spa, in order to take part in the first 12 hours of the Belgian 24 Hours Race, returning to Rheims a few hoursbefore the start I Whitney Straight contented himself with a fairly leisurely lap of 3m. 33 3/5s. The final practice found Campari wedged in the narrow cockpit of a single seater Maserati, and putting in a lap of 3m. 2 1/5S., as against Nuvolari’s last year record of 3 minutes dead. Etancelin was content to look on while other times were lehender, 3m. 2 3/5s. ; Wimille, 3m. 6 1/5s. ; Moll, 3m. 7 415s. ; Biondetti, 3m. 10s. ; Pietsch, 3m. 14 1/58. ; Braillard, 3m. 10s. ; Jellen, 3m. 14 4/5s. ; and Straight, who was still taking things quietly, 3m, ’30 4(5s, Some concern was felt at the non
Race organised by the A.C. de Champagne.
51 laps of the Rheims circuit, 7.826 kms., giving a total distance of 399.126 Isms. Previous winners : 1925, Clause (Bignan) • 1926, Le.scot (Bugatti). 1927, Etancelin (Bugatti). 1928, CISIT011 (13ugatti). 1929, F,tancelin (13tigatti). 1930, Dreyfus (lingual). 1931, 1,elloux (13ugatti). 1932 (French Grand Pri%),
Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo). Lap record : Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo), 1932 3
minutes, 156.520 k.p.13.
arrival of Nuvolari, but as his mechanic was on the scene it was assumed that the Italian Champion would actually start. Then it was found that delay was being experienced with getting the car through the customs from Italy. After much Agitated telegraphy this was eventually smoothed out, and both car and driver arrived at Rheims-although too late for practice. When the cars were lined up for the start Lehoux was given a place in the front row, in spite of not having made one of the fastest times in practice. This honour was accorded to him by virtue of his being the winner of the previous Mantic G. P. (The 1932 race on this circuit was the French Grand Prix.-ED.. One by one the cars were wheeled out in front of the pits, and Etancelin was given a great reception when he appeared. The cars were lined up in the following order :
1st Row: Lehoux (Bugatti 2,272 c.c.), Campari (Maserati 2,994 c.c.), Zehender (Muserati 2,994 c.c.). 2nd Row : Etancelin (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), Wimille (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.). 3rd Row : Moll (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), Biondetti (Maserati 2,994 c.c.) , SoMmer(Alfa Romeo 2;600
4th Row : Braillard (Pugatti 2,300 c.c), Pietsch (Alfa Romeo 2,600 c.c.).
5th Row : Jellen (Alfa Romeo 2,600 c.c.), Felix (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), Villars (Alfa Romeo 2,600 c.c.) .
6th Row : Straight (Maserati 2,500 c.c.), N uvolari (Alfa Romeo 2,600 c.c.).
7th Row: waldthausen (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.).
At 2 o’clock precisely the start was given by the Vicomte de Rohan, President of the A.C.F. and the 16 cars all made a good getaway, disappearing over the brow of the rise past the stands in a solid mass.
Lehoux is getting quite famous for his ability to get into his stride quickly, and his Bugatti was the first car to conic past the tribunes at the end of the initial lap. He was followed by Nuvolari, Moll, Wimille, Felix, Zehender, Etancelin and a close group. Nuvolari was not to be denied, and was first round on the second lap, a few seconds -ahead of Lehoux. Etancelin had.got into 3rd place, followed by Campari, but on the 4th lap this placing was reversed and the French G.P. duel was begun once more. Already two ears had retired. Both were Alfas, driven by Jellen and Villars respectively, the latter having the misfortune to fracture his still) p-cashig. Nuvolari gradually drew ahead. and by the sixth lap was 20 seconds ahead of Lehoux. On the next lap Campari, in spite of considerable difficulty in holding his poorly sprung Maserati, passed Lehoux and went -after NuvOlari. He was frus
trated, however, by the very same trouble that befell Earl Howe at MontlUry, a stone hitting him in the eye, causing him to retire. Another withdrawal was posted when Felix drove his Alfa Romeo slowly into the pits, and this was followed by a blow to Maserati hopes when Zehender’s Maserati was pushed off to the ” dead” car park, its driver suffering from a similar injury to Campari’s. On the 13th lap Lehoux slowed slightly,
and Etancelin seized the opportunity to take second place, 1.m. 2s. behind the flying Nuvolari. Lehoux came into his pit to investigate some bad noises in the gear box. He got away again, but after repeated stops finally had to retire. Now Wimille was in third place, Im. 4s. behind Etancelin, who had reduced Nuvolari’s lead to 50 seconds. Moll was fourth, closing up slowly on Wimille, and behind these two Alfas came Whitney Straight. The young Englishman was driving a calm, steady race, being quite unaffected by the fact that he was driving for the first time against the big Continental aces. He had altered the colour of his Maserati from the familiar black and silver to green, the British racing Colour. The time for refuelling came near, and
a consequent shuffling and reshuffling of the order. Nuvolari came in on the 22nd tap, and filled up and changed the rear wheel’s in 2m. 508. Etancelin now led, and Will passed Wimille to take second place. Nuvolari never likes having other cars ahead, and after his stop he Was spurred to great efforts, reducing Etancelin’s lead from 2m. 27s. to Im. 58s., in a few laps. He first caught Wimille, and soon afterwards Moll, so that he was now second. Then just as a really sensational battle seemed likely to develop between Nuvolari and Etancelin, Caine the bad news that Nuvolari had stopped at Gueux, where he retired with a broken back axle. Etancelin was now fairly safe, for he
was lin. 42s. ahead of Moll. Sommer had passed Straight, who had difficulty in restarting his Maserati after the refuelling pit-stop. The Continental rules insist that cars must be started by the startinghandle, and the Maserati proved refractory, owing to the fact that the engine was overheating. under the high temperature of the sunshine which blazed throughout the day. Neither Etancelin nor Moll had yet
refuelled, and the former was the first to conic in. He took lin. 55s. to refuel and change the rear wheels. As he drew away from the pits Moll roared by, and by the time Etancelin had gathered speed he was 10 seconds in the rear, 8 seconds ahead of the third man, Wimille. Straight stopped once more to change his plugs, which were wilting a little under the great heat, and again lost much time in restarting the engine. T he vast crowd which surrounded the course and filled the stands were treated to a really thrilling finish. On the 48th lap, three laps from the end, Etancelin
passed the tribunes first, with Wimille [Continua on preceding page.
only 3 4/5 seconds behind. Moll drew into his pit, but was away after a 40 seconds stop for fuel. On the 49th lap precisely the same distance separated Etancelin and Wimulle, but on the penultimate circuit the leader picked up 1 /5th of a second. On the last lap the crowd in the tribunes all stood up to see the cars come down the Straight leg to the hairpin of La Bonne Reneontre, which lies sonic distance to the right, and marks the beginning of the straight past the stands. The two Alfas, Etancelin’s all blue, Wimille’s blue with a red shoulder-line, came round the corner
with only a few feet between them. Wiruille pulled out to pass, but his acceleration was insufficient to make any headway, and Etancean -crossed the line first with a lead of 1/5th of a second. The popular Frenchman received a thunderous ovation. Moll actually finished third, but was disqualified for having received assistance from his mechanic outside the range of his pit. Bad luck, but only in accordance with the rules of the race. This gave third place to Sommer, and fourth to Whitney Straight, who had made a very favourable impression among the French critics
by reason of his well-controlled driving. Unfortunately, when the ‘excitement of the race had died down Straight found that the excessive heat of his Maserati engine had penetrated the thin soles of his shoes and had badly burnt the soles of his feet.
1. P. Etancelin (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), 21i. 45m. 12 2/5s. Average speed 90.566 m.p.h.
2. J. P. Wimille (Alfa Romeo 2,350 c.c.), 2k. 451n. 23 3/5s.
3. R. Sommer (Alfa Romeo 2,600 c.c.), 3 laps behind.
4. Whitney Straight (Maserati 2,500 c.c.), 6 laps behind.
Brighton Run reflections
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Book reviews, July 1973, July 1973
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