ENGLISH DRIVER WINS A CONTINENTAL GRAND PRIX R. E. L. FEATHERSTONHAUGH PILOTS THE 2I-LITRE IVIASERATI TO VICTORY IN THE GRAND PRIX D’ALBIGEOIS—H. C. HAMILTON FINISHES SECOND AFTER LEADING SOME DISTANCE.
AFEW years ago the prestige of British racing drivers had fallen very low in Continental racing circles, but recently there have been signs of a definite upward trend in our reputation. Led by Earl Howe, such drivers as Hamilton, Penn Hughes, Brian Lewis and Rose -Richards have all done good work, and the final touch has been given by the splendid victory of R. E. L. Featherstonhaugh in the Grand Prix d’Albigeois.
This race is held on a 5i mile circuit near Toulouse, the road being fairly narrow throughout. The pits and tribunes are situated on a straight which ends in a series of fast curves and a final right-angle bend. Then follows a straight that allows speeds of 140 m.p.h. to be attained, another right-angle corner bringing the cars back to the pits.
Two races were held on July 22nd, one for 1,500 c.c. cars and another open to all corners. The smaller car race was held first, but the machines were delayed on the line for a considerable time before the flag fell, with the result that R. J. B. Seaman had the bad luck to stall his engine on the line, the engine of his M. G. Magnette (entered by Whitney Straight) boiling furiously and overheating. Seaman’s misfortune was increased by the fact that bystanders immediately gave him a push-start, for which he was fined 100 francs ! Barring trouble the race was an easy
thing for Pierre Veyron on an 8-cylinder Bugatti. With the retirement of Seaman, Vagniez (Maserati) and Saint-Jean (Amilcar) the field was thinned, but Veyron was being closely pressed by Leoz Abad, also on a Bugatti. A pit-stop for plugs allowed Abad to get the lead, and it was not until right the end that Veyron managed to pull ahead of his rival, winning by 27 seconds.
Result of 1,500 ex. Class (180 km. 398).
I. P. VC}TOR (Bugatti), lb. 14m. 48.6s. 128.644 k.p.h.
2. L. Abad (Bugatti), lb. 15m. 5s.
3. Durand (Bugatti), Ih. I7m. 4s.
The” unlimited” race attracted a good field of fast cars and good drivers, as follows : Braillard (Maserati), Sommer (Maserati), Hamilton (Maserati), Falchetto (Maserati), Featherstonhaugh (Maserati), Zanelli (Alfa-Romeo), and Bugatti’s driven by Veyron, Delmo, Abad, Rolland, Brunet, Cattaneo, Blondiaux, Roumaini and Martin. The distance they had to cover was 30 laps, or 267 kilometres 330.
Hamilton shot right away at the start, and covered his standing lap in 3 mins. 42 secs. Behind the Whitney Straight representative came Sommer, on a similar Maserati, followed by Falchetto, Braillard and Featherstonhaugh. On the next lap Braillard pulled in for plugs, as did Brunet with his Bugatti.
Falchetto put on speed and passed Sommer, but he could make no impression on Hamilton, whose driving was faultless. Sommer’s Maserati developed brake trouble, and after a consultation with his pit-staff he decided to carry on using his hand brake only. Featherstonhaugh was never very far off Falchetto, for the latter was rather wild in his driving. On the 1 lth lap he retired, leaving the two “
Straight” Maseratis in the lead.
Hamilton was the next to suffer, and his engine sounded distinctly ” sevenish ” when he pulled into the pits. Rather than risk a long and possibly fruitless diagnosis, it was decided to finish the race with the car in this condition. Featherstonhaugh was now in the lead, which he held till the end, driving beautifully and keeping in close touch with his pit-control. Some idea of the regularity of his driving can be judged by the fact that although Sommer’s lap record was 3 mins. 35 secs. Featherstonhaugh covered five consecutive laps varying from 3 mins. 36 secs. to 3 mins. 37 sees.!
The rest of the race passed off without change in the order, but Abad lost a wheel at St. Juery without injury and Roumani crashed into the fence.
Result of Unlimited Class.
1. R. E. L. Featherstonhaugh (Maserati), lb. 52m. 3.2s. 143.144 k.p.h.
2. H. C. Hamilton (Maserati), 111. S4m.
3. Veyron (Bugatti), 1 lap behind.
4. Sommer (Maserati).
5. Zanelli (Alfa Romeo).
6. Brunet (Bugatti).
7. Cattaneo (Bugatti).
8. Blondiaux (Bugatti).
Matters of Moment, August 1997
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