BUGATTI REGAINS THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX
WIMLLLE AND SOMMER THE VICTORS AT 77.85 M.P.H. —DELAHAYES PRESS CLOSELY DREYFUS (TALBOT) MAKES FASTEST LAP RILEYS TAKE FIRST FOUR PLACES IN 2-LITRE CLASS LEOZ (41-LITRE LAGONDA) FIRST IN GROUP THREE
It is now thirty years since the first French Grand Prix was run, and its long history and the prestige which attaches to a win entitle it to be considered the senior event of motor racing. After so many years of racing-car events the decision of the Automobile Club de France to substitute a 1,000 kilometre sports-car race was held by many to mark the end of its supremacy, but the spectacle which was presented at Montlhery on May 28th was keenly fought to the end, and in many ways more interesting than the” formula ” races of the last two years. Truth to tell, the French sports car when modified for racing is now extraordinarily fast, as is shown by the winner’s speed of 77.85 m.p.h., the record lap of Dreyfus on his Talbot in 5 min. 36 secs. as compared with Chiron’s lap at 5 min. 6 secs. on the monoposto Alfa two years
ago. Last year’s figures are not comparable since the course was considerably slowed by the famous, or infamous, “chicanes.” The Delahayes made a most favourable impression, seven out of nine finishing the course, with Michel Paris and Mongin in second place, and Brunet, Schell and Perrot in the next three. The Talbots were fast but less reliable. The only English cars larger than 2-litres were the Lagondas driven by Lehoux and the brothers Leoz. Being standard cars, higher and a good deal heavier than the little Talbots and Delahayes, they were outclassed in respect of speed. As it happened, reliability was more important in the 4-litre class, and in spite of brake trouble, which was due partly to the impetuosity of the pilots, the
Spanish equipe succeeded in beating the three Hudsons which were ranged against it.
The Rileys are deserving of all praise. The B.M.W.s showed themselves faster in the early stages of the race, bvt went out with engine-mounting trouble, and Trevoux and Maclure led their three team-mates to another triumph for the British small car. There were in all thirty-eight starters. In the 4-litre class five cats took the field, two Lagondas and three Budsons. 1 hese latter ears were fitted with two-seater
bodies and for the first time in history.
Rudge knock-On wheels. Four downdraught carburetters were used. In the 2 to 4-litre class, Bugatti had entered three cars, with Benoist, Wimille and Veyron as first drivers. The chassis was the recently introduced Type 57 S, beautifully drilled and lightened, and with the rear axle passing through the side members. A double vertical Zenith carburetter fed the eight cylinders. The most striking part of the cars, of course, was their aerodynamic coachwork, carried riOtt down over the front -wheels, and the rear ones being enclosed
with removable covers. The racing .disc-cum-spoke road wheels were used, and a spare was carried alongside the passenger’s seat. Eight Delahayes ran, two of them, .driven by Perrot and Divo, being works ears, as were the three Talbots piloted by Dreyfus, Morel and Heide. Both makes had neat low-built two-seater bodies of orthodox racing lines, both had six-cylinder engines with three carburetters, and both had independent front suspension. Like their name-sakes in England, the Talbots had self-changing
sear-boxes. The labour disturbances which had recently ended prevented the Amilcars from running, and had also affected the preparations of the Talbots to some extent, while the Ferrari Alfas could not be got ready in time.
English cars again figured in the 2-litre class, with two official Rileys driven by Cyril Paul and von der Becke, and two entered and driven by Fairfield and Trevoux. Barnes and Eccles had 972 c.c. Singers, Lord Howe was driving a Marendaz and Clarke and Seaman an AstonMartin. H. J. Aldington was making his return to racing on a Frazer-NashB.M.W., and Henne and Roth were driving the German version, the remaining entries being five French-built SimcaFiats. The race was due to begin at ten o’clock, and from eight o’clock onwards the usual stream of pilgrims on cars, bicycles and on foot were climbing the steep ascent which leads to the Autodrome. Unfortunately for the organisers the Grand Prix de Paris, the most important horserace of the year was taking place that day at the Bois de Boulogne, and that must have diverted a good number of
potential spectators. With zero hour only fifteen minutes away the enormous stands were only a quarter full, but after all this was an eight-hour race and there was plenty of time for them to arrive. From our lofty perch in the press stand eighty feet above the track a magnificent view unfolded itself. A 4:)lue sky shaded with light clouds, the white banking of the Piste de Vitesse, the green of the bushes and grass in the Pelouse and the waving flags over the score-board, unfortunately so far away that one needed a pair of binoculars to read it, all formed a perfect setting for this contest of speed. Ten minutes before the start the cars were ranged diagonally in front of the pits in the order of their
lap speeds with Benoist (Bugatti) Dreyfus (Talbot) and Le Begue (Delahaye) at the head of the line, an order which suggested a lively struggle. Cars painted in all shades of blue were ranged alongside, then the green Of England first appeared in the B.M.W. of Aldington and the Riley of von der Berke. There is of course no handicap in the Grand Prix and cars of all capacities go off together. ” Le depart dans tine minute ” cried the starter, and engines
were stopped The drivers took their stand twenty feet from the cars, then as the flag dropped they sprinted back, leaped in and pressed the starter buttons.
Dreyfus was first away, followed by Le Begue and Trintignant on one of the Hudsons. Cars jumbled between the high walls leading to the road circuit Brunet (Delahaye) and Camarano (Fiat) were left on the line, but in a few seconds they too were off on the long and strenuous trail. All was still for a few minutes, then Dreyfus was announced as leading at the Biscornes, at the far end of the road circuit. Soon the cars could be seen and heard On the far side of the banked track, then the first car came sweeping
round. It was Dreyfus, then Benoist (Bugatti), Heide (Talbot), Morel (Talbot), Le Begue and Michel Paris on Delahayes, Veyron (Bugatti) and Lehoux (Lagonda). Car followed car in a perfect avalanche of blue streaks and noise, sweeping off the banking past the stand at fully 120 m.p.h., no less slow to the eye though less shattering in exhaust note than the ” bolides “of the year before. Henne and Roth (B.M.W.$) were the fastest of the 2-litre drivers, with Aldington the first English driver on his I i.a.zer-N ashB.M.W.
Dreyfus had lapped in 6 min. 30 secs. (71.5 m.p.h.) from a standing start, but by the time the Biscornes was reached Benoist Was in front. On his second appearance he had a lead of 300 yards from Dreyfus. the other two Talbots in close attendance, then Michel Paris and Le Begue leading the Delahaye attack. On the third lap Benoist had a lead of 15 sees. his speed now being 77 m.p.h., while on the fourth he had nearly lapped sonic of the smaller cars. This initial effort proved toe) much for the plugs and he was lotted to pull into the pits where unfortunate mechanics pulled up the bonnet of this car and dived inside. Dreyfus was again in the lead, but Wimille and Veyron were second and fourth so the Maison Bugatti was “well covered.” Morel and Ile10 were third and fifth, and Brunet (Delahaye) sixth. Wimille now opened up. and by the time he had reached the Biscornes was
in the lead. Dreyfus was second and Brunet had forced his way up to third by the time the cars passed the stand on their fourth lap. Streams of cars in dose formation still flashed past the stand and the spectators swung their heads to and fro as if watching a non-stop tennis match at Wimbledon. In the 4-litre class Lehoux (Lagonda) was keeping ahead of Trintignant and Bravard on their Hudsons, but now Leoz on the other Lagonda was pulling into the pits. His brakes were evidently all astray and he overshot this depot by 50 yards: winding furiously meanwhile
at the steering wheel. Trintignant came in with his Hudson shortly afterwards with smoke coming from one back brake-drum, so evidently the Circuit Rontier was testing these components thoroughly. Morel (Talbot) came in to change plugs, loosing 2i minutes, but Wimille was going splendidly in first place, lapping at around 7$ m.p.h. on the eighth lap. Brunet was now second and Dreyfus third. :So far there had been little going on in the pits, but then there came
sudden rush of activity. Morel came in first and changed plugs and valve springs and played with the gear-box, remaining at his depot half-an-hour in all, then Dreyfus had two plug stops, losing third place to Williams on his Bugatti. .Cadot (Talbot) came in with brakes pulling.in all directions, dealt with these and the plugs, and then retired with a split petrol-tank. Lord Howe had been in to change a rear tyre and now Lehoux came in with brake trouble on his Lagouda. The breske mechanism had wilted under his vigorous use, one connector had stripped completely, and by the time another one was fitted he had dropped to last in the unlimited class. He retired a few laps later with gear-box trouble. In the small class Henne-Kohlrausch and Roth-Kautz were still leading on their B.M.W.s with Aldington and Pane third. However Home went out on the far side of the course with a broken oil-pipe, then Aldington overtook Roth and finally both cars came into the pits. Plug changing and adjustments to the carburetter took valuable time, and both Trevoux and von der Becke had passed
before Roth got under way again. ” Aldies’ ” trouble was more obscure and be retired shortly afterwards. Order at 10 laps was as follows :
1. WImille (Bugatti) lb. 34m. 16s. Speed 81.1 mita).
2. Brunet (Delahaye) lh. 34M. 463.
3. VeyrOn (Bugatti) lh. 35m. 2s.
4. Perrot (Delahaye). 6. Divo (Delahaye). 8. :Michel Paris (Delahaye). Wimille -was kept aware of the challenge of the Delahaye and reeled off a succession of record laps, at the 14th, 16th and finally the 19th lap where he achieved 5 min. 41isecs. (81.9 m.p.h.). In spite of this he was only 40 secs. ahead of Brunet at the 20th lap. Now the Delahayes were signalled in to refuel. Brunet was the first to come in and changed all four wheels, filled up, and handed over to Zehender in 2 min. 21 secs. Divo was fastest of the Delahaye team and his codriver Girod was able to get away in 1 min. 42 secs. For the moment the three Bugattis, driven by Wimille, Veyron and Benoist, led the field. The Bugatti pit work was however, far front clever, and when in their turn the Molsheim cars came to change wheels and refuel, Wimille lost Over thin* minutes. At the 32nd lap indeed the Bugattis had lost all their advantages, the first four then being Brunet, Paris, Divo and Perrot, all on Delahayes, and at the 40th, these
same four cars led, only that Divo was now No. 1 and Brunet No. 4.
In the 2-litre class a keen struggle was still going on. Trevoux and von der Becke led for some time on their Rileys and then at :350 km, were in turn overhauled by Roth on the remaining B.M.W. Clarke and Seaman on their Aston-Martin and Lord Howe on the Marendaz were tailing the Rileys, while Eccles and Leitch were leading the Fiats with their Singer, only then to be delayed with carburetter trouble.
Trevoux received the Signal to open out, and at 44)0 km. had moved into first place. 50 kilometres later the RothKautz combination were mite more in front, but by half-distance both TrevouxMachire and von der Becke-Dobbs had got in front of the German machine. There were therefore good prospects of British success in that direction. Leoz had come up to second place behind the Trintignant brothers on their Hudson at 300 km, but Once again the brakes gave trouble and No. 90 came shooting into the pits, the driver waving
his hands above his head and shouting. .
After further brake adjustments the Lagonda got away, now fourth in the class at half-distance. The order at 40 laps (500 kilonietres) was the following :
1. Diyo (Delahaye) 3h. 58m. 20.6s.
2. Michel Paris (Debtlia,ye) 311. 58in. 26s-.
3. Perrot. (Delahaye) 3h. 59m. 50 11,8.
4. Brutiet (Debthaye) 4b. Om. 464s. WimPle (Bugatti) 411. 2m. 2*. 6. L. Schell (Delahaye) 4h. 3m, 271s.
Only four minutes covered the first five at 40 laps, and Sommer, who had replaced Wimille at the wheel of No. 84 Bugatti, was putting on speed. In nine laps he had overtaken three Delahayes, and on the 50th passed Brunet-Zehender to take the lead. In the course of the 53rd lap the record was beaten twice, first by Sommer and then by Benoist in .5 min. 8S* secs. (82.7 nt.p.h.). Sommer did not hold his advantage long, however, for two laps later he came in again to refuel, change wheels and hand over to Wimille, which took 4 min. 41 secs.
Now came some important retirements.. Bravard who was lying second in the big class on his Hudson retired with engine trouble. Then Roth, whose B.M.W. had been the only serious opposition to the Rileys, was pushed away after much) work on the engine. The Marendaz: Special came in with steering trouble and when the front axle was jacked up. a front wheel fell off due to a defectivebearing in the front hub. Luckily for Wisdom, who had relayed Lord Howe at the wheel, it did not happen coming ’round the banking. The Aston-Martin. went out shortly afterwards with brake trouble. Wimille’s pit-stop dropped him to. third place and Brunet was now first and Paris second. * Then Brunet had a pit-stop to, change a wheel and Paris
took the lead. Wimille had power in hand however, and pursued Brunet with. a will, and pressed on relentlessly and gaining seven or eight seconds a lap succeeded in recovering the lead at 68 laps. The race continued with no lack of incident. Colas on his Hudson had sometrouble coming round the banking and shot right on to the grass. He left it there, walked back to the pits and was. ordered out again to collect it. He brought it back to the depot, ‘filled up, and handed over to his spare driver. Trintignant and Bravard had both been to the pits. for adjustments, and Leoz made -another dramatic entry, with hands wavitfg, for
brake adjustments. He got away in 3 nuns., and his chances improved considerably when Colas’ car, now driven by Zattzky, caught fire a kilometre down the road and had to be abandoned. The. driver had an extremely hick y escape, being uninjured after a jump from the. moving car.
Not much had been heard of the Talbot& for a long time, the three team-cars running steadily and fast now that they had got over their difficulties with plugs and valve springs, and lying eighth, ninth and tenth. Dreyfus now created a diversion by putting up two record laps, in ‘6 min. 374 secs,, and 5 min. 36 secs,. the latter at a speed of 83.2 m.p.h..
This was the fastest lap of the day, but only operated to put him in front of his team-mate Heide, into eighth place. With twelve laps to go Wimille had a lead of 3$ sees. over Paris and was
I min. 38 secs. ahead of Brunet. Veyron on the second Bugatti lay sixth, so JeanPierre could not afford any mistakes, but his car seemed perfectly happy and he picked up two secs. a lap on the Delahaye. From half-distance four Rileys, driven by Trevonx, von der Becke„ Cyril Paul and Fairfield held the leading positions in the 2-litre class, while a final pit-stop by Trintignant shortly before the end allowed Leoz to pass quite unexpectedly into first place in the 4-litre-class. At last the announcement came, ” the leader has completed his 1,000 kilometres, and has passed the Biscornes.” There was the usual false alarm as the Bugattis of Benoist and Veyron were sighted in the distance, then came high round the banking Wimille on No. 84. He waved triumphantly as he passed
the chequered flag and switched off the course on a short-cut round the Piste de Vitesse. As his car re-appeared again and came to rest it was surrounded by a dense mass of spectators and photographers, who stood an excellent chance of being mown down by the later finishers. But who cared about being run down, anyway ? The French Grand Prix had been won again after five years by a French car, a Bugatti, so the prestige of France was
res t (ace]. The few spectators from EieJand were equally satisfied by the performance of the Rileys in the small class, and by the finish of the Leoz equine two laps ahead of the only surviving Hudson. The struggle between Bugatti and Delahaye had kept up an interest throughout the whole of the eight hours, and the Talbots when fully ” au point ” should
prove dangerous rivals: The race was amply justified as a spectacle and doubtless will be the forerunner of many other sports-car events. RESULTS
1. Wtraille-Somnier (3,257 c.c. Bugatti) 7h. 58m. 53.7s. Speed 77.85 m.p.h.
2. Paris-Mongin (3,557 c.c. Delahaye) 7h, 59m. 44s.
3. Robert Brunet-Zehender (Delahaye) 8h.. lni. 35s.
4. Schell-Carriere (3,557 c.c. Delahaye) 8h. 3m. 7.1s. 79 laps.
5. Perrot-Dome (3,557 c.c. Delahaye) 71). 59m. 20.8s. 78 laps.
6. Veyron-Williams (3,257 c.c. Bugatti) 78 laps.
7. Villeneuve-Viale (3,557 c.c. Delahaye) 76 laps..
8. Helde-Nime (3,998 c.c. Talbot) 76 laps.
9. Dreyfus-Bradlev (3,998 c.c. Talbot) 75 laps. Morel-Chinetti (3,998 e.e. Talbot) 75 laps. U. Danniel-Maile (3,557 c.c. Delahaye) 74 laps.
12. Divo-tiiroil (3,’57 c.c. Delahaye) 73 laps.
13. R. Benoist-Ph. de Rothschild (3,257 c.c. Bugatti) 73 laps.
14. Trevoux-Maclure (1,496 c.c. Riley) 71 laps. 15. Von der Becke-Dobbs (1,496 c.c. Riley) 71 laps
16. Cyril Paul-Sebilleau (1,496 c.c. Riley) 69 laps.
17. Fairfield-Dobson (1,496 c.c. Riley) 67 laps.
18. 0. Leoz-E. Leoz (4,453 c.c. Lagonda) 67 laps.
19. H. Trintignant-R. Trintignant (4,1(10 c.c. Hudson) 65 laps.
20. Atnedee Gordini-Querzola (995 c.c. Slinca Fiat) 02 laps.
21. Leitch-Eccles (972 c.c. Singer) 60 laps.
22. S. Barnes-D. Barnes (972 c.c. Singer) 58 laps.
Race run over 80 laps of the 12.5 km. circuit. Total distance 621.4 utiles.