Racing on the Continent
Grand Prix de l'Europe
1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeos 1, 2, 3 at Spa. Wimille wins at 95.28 m.p.h. and sets fastest lap at nearly 102 m.p.h.
In intense heat the 1 1/2-litre Alfa-Romeo team dominated the G.P. de l'Europe run over 35 laps (310 miles) of the very fast 9 1/4-mile Francorchamps circuit near Spa. It was rumoured that before the race Pierre Wimille had done a lap at about 104 m.p.h., almost equal to Hasse's race average with a 6-litre Auto-Union in 1937. The little two-stage-blown Alfa-Romeos certainly dominated the race. Varzi (Alfa-Romeo) led lap 1, followed by Sommer's Maserati, Wimille, Trossi and Chiron's Maserati. Trossi came in early to have his Alfa's brakes adjusted and good old Sommer drove magnificently, keeping his single-stage Maserati up amongst the Alfas until the chassis collapsed. Chiron went out with a rod through the side of his engine. In the intense heat cars and drivers had a rough time. Cabantous lost a wheel from his Delahaye, but came to rest safely, de Graffenried's Maserati broke a piston and Kautz burst an oil-pipe. Johnson's Darracq was so grandly handled that it came up to 5th place after 24 laps only to waste much time on account of a split fuel tank, while Whitehead's B-type E.R.A. was badly sick of oiling plugs and a broken steering support. Varzi lost 9 minutes near the end over brake adjustments, and Sanesi was actually at his pits for this purpose when the race ended and was therefore not placed, to his not unnatural rage. This put the Gerard-T. C. Harrison Zoller-blown B-type E.R.A. in 4th place, after a very fine run indeed. "Bira's" B-type E.R.A. broke a valve in practice. One lap from the end Wimille let caution take a hind seat, as it were; anyway, on that round he set the fastest lap at 101.94 m.p.h. and he won after 3 h. 18 m. 28 sec. 60.000 watched the race.
1st: J. P. Wimille (Alfa-Romeo) 95.28 m.p.h.
2nd: A. Varzi (Alfa-Romeo) 89.98 m.p.h.
3rd: C. Trossi (Alfa-Romeo) 88.54 m.p.h.
4th: F. Gerard/T. C. Harrison (E.R.A.) 84.39 m.p.h.
5th: L. Trintignant (Delage) 83.16 m.p.h.
6th: M. Rossier (Talbot) 79.98 m.p.h
7th: L. Johnson (Darracq) 78.05 m.p.h.
The Mille Miglia
Biondetti's "2.9" unsupercharged Alfa-Romeo wins Italian 1,000 mile race.
Cisitalias occupy the next three places.
Biondetti, partnered by Romano, who tuned the car, won this year's Mille Miglia in a 2.9-litre straight-eight Alfa-Romeo coupé with four Solex carburetters. In spite of losing his two lower gears on the first section between Brescia and Rome, Biondetti averaged 69.9 m.p.h. for the 1,125 miles, inclusive of five stops to look to the fuel feed. In all, 245 cars entered for the various classes. Immense enthusiasm greeted the start at Brescia. For a time Gilera's Fiat led, but at Rome Nuvolari was in the lead in a Cisitalia saloon. Known to be a sick man — alas, we have heard this of Tazio too often of late — Nuvolari nevertheless drove magnificently, but neither he, nor Carena, his co-driver, could hold off Biondetti. The long, rough course took immense toll of the big field and torrential rain did not improve matters. Taruffi's Cisitalia was out before reaching Rome, Cortese had gasket bothers and retired the new Ferrari after 265 miles, Villoresi was let down by bearing failure in the new sports Maserati, while Dusio was in trouble at Tadino, rain having played havoc with his Cisitalia's engine. Nuvolari still led after 958 miles, but beyond Asti the long straights gave the far bigger Alfa-Romeo its chance and it went ahead. The Cisitalia was further delayed some 15 minutes when Nuvolari had to change a magneto after rain-water had swamped his engine. He finished 15 min. 56 sec. behind Biondetti and was carried to an hotel for medical attention. The other team — Cisitalias driven by Bernabei and Ninetti — came in 3rd and 4th on general classification, a horde of 1,100-c.c. Fiat saloons followed them in, driven by Capelli, Della Chiesa, Ermini, Comirato and Balestreio, while in 10th place came Reynaldi's Lancia "Aprilia" saloon, which won the touring-car class at an average of nearly 61 m.p.h. Fastest along the final autostrada was Bernabei's Cisitalia, at 94.8 m.p.h. This great race was possible because the energetic Brescia A.C. was allowed to close over 1,000 miles of public road and because the Minister of Commerce allocated 20,000 gallons of 80 octane fuel and tyres via Pirelli, sufficient for the race.
The Rheims Meeting
As seen by Louis Klemantaski
Grand Prix de la Marne
Usual massed start gave Kautz (1 1/2-litre 16-valve Maserati) the lead with other Maseratis of Sommer, Villoresi and Ascari fighting it out amongst themselves. Plate's Maserati hit a tree on the first lap at La Garenne which was the only "exaggeration" in a polished race, despite many duels. Sommer and Villoresi kept changing places till Sommer started throwing treads, due to a cracked frame. At half-way Villoresi took the lead, kept it during refuelling (Kautz refilling from Jerrycans!), but later blew up. Kautz then kept lead to the end, winning at 95.8 m.p.h. Chiron, single-seater Talbot, 2nd, and Gerrard-Harrison E.R.A., 3rd, a very fine effort.
Coupe des Petites Cylindrees
(Cars up to 1,100 c.c.)
The small car race was expected to provide a battle between the works single-seater Simca Fiats and a host of Cisitalias with Monkhouse (K3 M.G.), Ashmore (1,100 c.c. E.R.A.) and Metcalfe (Lagonda Rapier) as likely winners.
At the start the Simcas, of Wimille, "Bira," Scaron, leapt into the lead, Metcalfe lying fourth. Monkhouse took some time to get into his stride, then put up fastest lap at 89.21 m.p.h. and reached third place, passing Scaron. He then had a series of pit stops for oil, and dropped further and further back.
The Cisitalias, led by Manzon, could not catch up the Simcas. Metcalfe lost much time stalling at Thillois and then had supercharger and gearbox troubles. Ashmore retired. The Simcas continued in close formation till a lap before the end, when Wimille went out with a blown gasket, "Bira" winning at 84.63 m.p.h. Scaron was 2nd, Trintignant on an older Simca 3rd, Manzon (Cisitalia) 4th, Schell (Cisitalia) 5th and Monkhouse 6th.
Grand Prix d'Albi
Rozier (Talbot) wins from Sommer's Simca-Fiat. No English Finishers.
Specially reported for " Motor Sport" by T. G. Moore.
If the 1947 Grand Prix d'Albi had been run in England it might well have gone down in motor-racing history as the "Bookies' Delight. Every one of the eight supercharged cars fell by the wayside, and a further surprise was Sommer's success on a Gordini-modified Simca Fiat against cars of three times its capacity, though this was less surprising after Bira's success at Rheims.
Of the English drivers, Brooke (E.R.A.) retired at half-distance after a stirring performance, Connell dropped out through force majeure (a wasp stung him three times just as he was passing a stationary car), while Parnell and Fred Ashmore found their plans upset by the failure of the E Type E.R.A. at Rheims, which necessitated sending home for the Maserati at the last minute.
Fastest practice times had been put up by Louveau (Maserati) at 90.89 m.p.h., Wimille (Simca) and Scarron-Mouche (Talbot). Brooke was the fastest English driver. There were in all 24 starters, Levegh, Raph, Connell, Villoresi, Louveau, and Parnell (16-valve Maseratis), F. Ashmore and Brooke (E.R.A. A and B types), Achard (12-cyl. Delahaye), Pozzi and Chaboud (6-cyl. Delahaye), Scarron-Mouche and Rozier (Talbot), a strong Simca team consisting of Wimille, Sommer, Trintignant and Prince Igor, six Cisitalias, the Darl-Mat (alias Peugeot) of de Cortanze and Veyron, and Bonnet's D.B., a much-modified two-litre Citroen which went surprisingly well.
The Circuit des Planques is a triangular course with a lap distance of 5.52 miles, and has a twisty leg leading up to the village of St. Juery, a fast but narrow tree-lined straight leading down to the right-angle corner at Mon Plaisir, thence back to the pits, which are placed on a short connecting road cutting off the third angle of the triangle. Altogether quite a tricky circuit.
The car race was due to start at 2.45, and the sun was blazing down from a cloudless sky, making steering wheels and seat cushions too hot to touch. The crowds of spectators round the course, heads protected with the usual newspapers and paper hats, had already witnessed two motor-cycle races, which were won by British riders, the 500 c.c. by Anderson (Norton) at 83.45 m.p.h. and the 350 c.c. by Thomas (Velocette). After a further side-car event the racing cars were brought out to the starting grid at the beginning of the stands, and lined up in groups of threes, with Louveau, Wimille and Mouche in the front row, Chaboud, Trintignant and Brooke in the second, the other English drivers, being well to the rear. The drivers grouped round the starter for last minute instructions, then the order "start your engines," and further conversation became impossible.
The start was terrific, with twenty-odd cars roaring off in a solid mass past the stands. Wimille had beaten the starter and was first round the far corner of the pits, but soon from Mon Plaisir came the news that Brooke (E.R.A.) was in the lead. Past the pits he came with a hundred-yard lead from Wimille (Simca) then Trintignant (Simca), Rozier (Talbot), Chaboud (Delahaye), Parnell (Maserati) and Mouche (Talbot) and half-a-dozen other cars, with half-lengths separating them.
On the second lap Brooke retained his lead, a good sight after the poor showing of British cars at Rheims. He was followed in close formation by Parnell, Villoresi (Maserati), Wimille, Trintignant, Chaboud, Rozier and Levegh. Ashmore pulled into the pits and retired immediately with overheating. Parnell came in as well, and mechanics worked on the engine, but then he in his turn retired, trouble probably a tight piston. Villoresi was trying all he knew and on the fourth lap passed into the lead. Press information of times and speeds was non-existent, but the position at the end of the fourth lap was as follows :
1. Villoresi (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 7 1/2 sec. lead.
2. Brooke (E.R.A. 1,500-c.c., S.).
3. Levegh (Maserati).
4. Chaboud (Delahaye 3,600-c.c., U/S.).
5. Rozier (Talbot 4-litre U/S.).
6. Wimille (Simca-Gordini 1,090-c.c. U/S.).
There was a stir at the stands as Schell (Cisitalia), son of the late Lauri Schell, passed the Darl-Mat within inches of the hay-bales, and then when Prince Igor (Simca) spun round at the far end of the pits right in the path of a bunch of cars. He repeated this Russian Ballet performance a few laps later out on the course.
Meantime Villoresi was cracking on all he knew, and on his seventh round put up the fastest lap of the day at 96.6 m.p.h. Mays' record lap of 99.5 m.p.h. in 1937 still stands, incidentally.
Levegh was now coming up strongly and passed Brooke on the eighth lap. Wimille lost time by turning round on Mon Plaisir corner. Connell (Maserati) was worried by sounds from his backaxle, but went on after a short pit-stop.
Heat and high speeds were taking toll of the cars, though the first three leading cars remained the same at the end of the 15th lap.
1. Villoresi (Maserati), 53 min. 16.8 sec., speed 93.5 m.p.h.
2. Levegh (Maserati), 55 min. 10.8 sec.
3. Brooke (E.R.A.), 55 min. 34.4 sec.
4. Chaboud (Delahaye), 55 min. 40 sec.
5. Sommer (Simca), 50 min. 46 sec.
6. Rozier (Talbot), 50 min. 57 sec.
Villoresi's engine had been missing a little for the last two laps, then the loud-speakers announced that he had stopped on the course with a dry tank, having failed to come in for refuelling. Brooke came in on his 20th and 21st laps and retired with low oil-pressure. Connell had stalled his engine somewhere round the course when passing a stationary car, and was unable to effect a push start, a great disappointment, as his car was still going well. Wimille had also dropped out, his engine showing an oil temperature of 250 deg. F.!
Achard (Delahaye) was at this moment taking the corner leading past the stands, when suddenly one of the rear wheels flew off, leapt the protecting wall in front of the stands and landed in the front row of the spectators, unhappily injuring two of them, one seriously.
At twenty laps, seven out of the 24 starters had retired, and Levegh's car, which was still in the lead, was the only supercharged car on the road. The position was then as follows
1. Levegh (Maserati), 1 hr. 13 min. 31.7 sec. (91 m.p.h.).
2. Sommer (Simca), 1 hr. 15 min. 17 sec.
3. Chaboud (Delahaye), 1 ht. 15 min. 17.8 sec.
4. Rozier (Talbot), 1 hr. 15 min. 33 sec.
5. Pozzi (Delahaye), 1 hr. 16 min. 27 sec.
Sommer's performance in holding second place on an unblown 1,100 c.c. car against such opposition was nothing short of marvellous, and after refuelling at the 20th lap he went off as well as ever, taking the corners at a speed just short of sliding point.
Levegh was still in the lead at the 30th lap, but had slowed somewhat. Rozier on the Talbot had overhauled Chaboud and Sommer had dropped back to 4th place owing to his pit-stop. Loyer, the well-known motor-cycling ace, had now come into sixth place with his Cisitalia.
Twice again Levegh came round in the lead, then on the next lap swung into the pits, his engine giving out a very woolly sound. Mechanics changed a plug and he went off in a cloud of smoke, only to retire on the following lap with valve trouble. With the last supercharged car out of the race the lead passed to Rozier. Order at 35 laps :
1. Rosier (Talbot), 2 hr. 10 min. 35.4 sec. (89.1 m.p.h.).
2. Chaboud (Delahaye), 2 hr. 11 min. 55 sec.
3. Sommer (Simca), 2 hr. 12 min. 39.3 sec.
Sommer was not content to lie third even to Chaboud's 3.6-litre car and continued flat out in pursuit. On his 36th lap he clocked 3 min. 46.4 sec. (88 m.p.h.), but eased up slightly when he found he could not make up the necessary time interval.
Rozier had driven a fast and faultless race and was loudly cheered as he crossed the finishing line. Then came a final moment of suspense. There was no sign of Chaboud on the Delahaye. His driving had seemed a little below standard to-day, being possibly affected by the heat. News then came that he had got into a slide on his final lap and had turned the car over, but had fortunately escaped without injury. Sommer thus achieved a well-deserved second place.
1. Rosier (Talbot 4-litre U/S.), 2 hr. 29 min. 48.7 sec. (speed, 88.6 m.p.h.).
2. Sommer (Simca-Gordini 1,090-c.c., U/S.), 2 hr. 31 min. 50.9 sec.
3. Pozzi (Delahaye 3.6-litre, U/S.), 2 hr. 31 min. 39.7 sec. (1 lap behind).
4. Loyer (Cisitalia 1,100-c.c.) (2 laps behind).
5. Minetti (Cisitalia 1,100-c.c.) (4 laps behind).
6. Scarron-Mouche (Talbot 4-litre) (5 laps behind).
7. De Cortanze-Veyron (Darl-Mat. Peugeot 1,900-c.c.) (5 laps behind).
Nice Round-the-Houses Race
Villoresi Wins. Wimille second in Simca and F. Ashmore third in his E-type E.R.A.
A T. G. Moore Report.
"Round the Houses" races are usually exciting, and the one staged this year at Nice was no exception. Sommer led the field for 23 laps, always hotly pursued by Villoresi, who then took the lead. Chiron (Talbot) maintained a spirited fight with Ascari until the Talbot packed up, while all the time coming steadily through the field was Wimille on the little unblown Simca-Gordini.
Ashmore and Parnell showed themselves well capable of taking their places in any Continental races, and Ashmore did well to finish third on a twelve-year-old Car.
Racing at a temperature of 85 degrees is a big strain on man and car, and there were only eight finishers out of a field of 19. Many cars suffered from overheating, and the pits were kept busy in the early stages. The unblown cars found the fuel not to their liking, and several cars caught fire.
Villoresi was firmly established in the final stages. Wimille used all his powers of driving, aided by the perfect handling and reliability of the little Simca, to maintain his second place, and Ashmore drove with his head throughout and successfully fended off Ascari's Maserati.
The course was the one used last year, up and down the twin-track, tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, with a deviation round the Gardens. This year the race was stepped up from 65 to 100 laps, making a distance of 199.76 miles, with two hairpins and four other corners per lap. Gaily painted hotels and restaurants with striped awnings on one side, and the Mediterranean, looking as blue as in the picture post-cards, not to speak of lines of great date palms and tropical shrubs and flowers, make the Nice circuit quite unlike anywhere else in Europe.
There were in all 19 starters. Maserati: Evans-Connell, Parnell, Villoresi, Ascari, Plate, De Graffenried, Meyer, Raph, Louveau, Sommer and Levegh. Sommer had the only two-blower car, and this arrived direct from Italy a few minutes before the start. E.R.A.: F. Ashmore and Brooke. At the last minute Brooke fitted Parnell's spare 1,100-c.c. engine, as his 1 1/2-litre had broken its crankshaft at Albi. The mixture was too rich, but there was no time to correct this. Rosier, Chiron, and Giraud. Delahaye: Chaboud and Pozzi. Simca-Gordini: Wimille.
Excitement was intense as zero hour approached. The stands were well filled, but many more people were watching from the balconies and roof-tops of the many hotels which overlook the course. The heat was scorching even at 4 p.m., and driver's had the sun in their eyes on the fastest straight on the course.
Cars were marshalled in rows of threes and twos according to their practice times, the starting grid being a hundred yards behind the finishing line. Villoresi, Sommer and Ascari, Plate and Chiron, and Ashmore, Raph and Parnell occupied the first three rows. Down went the flag to a perfect start, and Sommer was away like a flash in the lead, going very fast as he passed the stands, with Villoresi and Plate in hot pursuit, the other cars bunched up but sorting themselves out at the corners. First lap leaders were Sommer, Villoresi, Ascari, de Graffenried, Chiron, Wimille, Ashmore.
Sommer continued to pull ahead of Villoresi and had a 6-second lead at the end of the 4th lap. With cars roaring past the stands a few feet away and travelling at 120 m.p.h., it was difficult to get the numbers, but the order worked out to be Sommer, Villoresi, Ascari, de Graffenried, Chiron, Raph and Levegh. Giraud's Talbot was already showing signs of distress. De Graffenried and Meyer, the two Swiss drivers, were also in trouble and came in the following lap. Kenneth Evans came in slowly with his Maserati and retired, with gearbox trouble.
Order at the 10th Lap
1. Sommer (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 17 min. 39 sec. (speed, 67.84 M.p.h.).
2. Villoresi (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 17 min. 49.4 sec.
3. Ascari (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 18 min. 27.6 sec.
4. Chiron (Talbot 4.5-litre, U/S.), 18 min. 43.5 sec.
5. Raph (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 18 min. 55.4 sec.
6. Levegh (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 19 min. 4.7 sec.
Raph was in now, taking on water and fuel. Sommer was going as strongly as ever and had lapped Chiron. On his 18th lap he equalled Nuvolari's record lap, set up in 1934, of 1 min. 44 sec. (69.14 m.p.h.). He stopped to refuel on his 23rd lap, which allowed Villoresi, who had also made a quick stop, to take the lead. Sommer's great effort seemed to have done something to his engine. He was delayed at the pits for five minutes, and then stopped again farther round the course. Later the car caught fire and he retired. Chaboud spun round at the Massena hairpin, then his car too caught fire. De Graffenried retired with big-end trouble, and Louveau was frequently in at the pits. The pace had been a hot one and there were only 11 cars on the course.
Order at the 30th Lap.
1. Villoresi (Maserati), 53 min. 51 sec. (speed, 60.76 m.p.h.).
2. Ascari (Maserati), 55 min. 39 sec.
3. Chiron (Talbot), 56 Min.
4. Levegh (Maserati), 56 min. 7 sec.
5. Parnell (Maserati), 56 min. 32 sec.
6. Wimille (Simca-Fiat), 57 min. 31.7 sec.
7. Ashmore (E.R.A.), 57 min. 36.5 sec.
English drivers had now come well into the picture. Parnell and Ashmore were making fast and steady runs. Brooke's hastily prepared 1,100-c.c. car seemed only to be running on four or five cylinders, but he was plugging on nevertheless. Wimille's Simca-Gordini obviously had not the speed of the Maseratis, but the engine ran perfectly and he was very neat on the corners. The same applied to Chiron, still as immaculate as ever and wearing the familiar spotted pink scarf. He was gaining steadily on Ascari, son of the famous Alfa driver, but when only 12 seconds behind trouble set in, and on the 38th lap he came slowly into the pits. After feverish work by his mechanics he was forced to retire with a blown gasket.
Raph turned round at the end of the Promenade and was unable to restart, and Levegh gave up shortly afterwards with a burnt-out piston. Half-distance was now approaching, with Villoresi and Ascari in the lead, Parnell third and Ashmore fourth, next behind them the redoubtable Wimille. The supercharged cars would soon have to refuel, and much would depend on the time taken for pitstops.
Villoresi was the first to come in. A mechanic had an electric starter ready on the track, the fuel was forced in under pressure, a touch of the starter, and away he went again after 52 seconds. Ascari's stop was even neater and took only 46 seconds. Parnell followed. His crew filled his tank from churns, and his electric starter refused to engage in the starting-handle dogs, so the handle had to be used. This meant a further delay, making a total time of 1 min. 30 sec. Ashmore was in just afterwards and filled up with oil as well. His car was reluctant to start on the handle, and the stop lost him 1 min. 47 sec. Wimille meantime had gone through non-stop, and had gained third position, with a lead of 38 seconds on Parnell.
Order at the 50th Lap.
1. Vilioresi (Maserati), 1 hr. 31 min. 20.6 sec. (speed, 65.6 m.p.h.).
2. Ascari (Maserati), 1 hr. 34 min. 7.9 sec.
3. Wimille (Simca-Gordini), 1 hr. 35 min. 40.8 sec.
4. Parnell (Maserati), 1 hr. 35 min. 54.1 sec.
5. Ashmore (J.B.A.), 1 hr. 37 min. 20.5 sec.
6. Rosier (Talbot).
Chaboud's Delahaye was now reported on fire, as Sommer's Maserati had been earlier on. He soon got restarted again and hurled out an empty fire extinguisher as he passed the pits. Drivers who had retired were now brought to the microphone and blamed the fuel for most of the engine troubles which had occurred. The hot weather, of course, further increased overheating troubles.
Villoresi had a lead of nearly four minutes at 60 laps. His engine faltered shortly afterwards and he made a quick pit-stop, changing a plug in 52 seconds, and going off again as strongly as ever. Ascari was still holding second place, but Wimille was pressing him strongly, only 68 seconds behind. Rosier had a 15minute stop, Chaboud was on fire again, and there were only 10 cars still running.
At the 68th lap, after a splendid drive, Parnell was forced to retire with gearbox trouble. Ashmore was still running steadily, now in fourth place, and Brooke, whose car was still running on five cylinders, had driven on firmly into 7th place, despite one nasty moment at one of the hairpins.
Ascari's car then started to mis-fire. Wimille pulled up level with him, Ascari repassed, and the duel went on for over a lap. Wimille finally established a lead of four seconds on the 80th lap. Ascari came in, his mechanics changed a plug, filled up with water and made other adjustments. He restarted at full speed, but had lost 3 1/2 minutes at the pits.
The closing stages saw Villoresi firmly in the lead, Ashmore, who had now mounted to third position, chasing after Wimille, and Ascari in hot pursuit of Ashmore, who was less than a minute ahead. The final position did not change however, and Villoresi crossed the line for the second year in succession as winner of the Grand Prix de Nice.
1. Villoresi (Maserati 1,500-c.c., S.), 3 hr. 7 min. 7 sec. (speed, 64.045 m.p.h.).
2. Wimille (Simca-Gordini 1,100-c.c., U/S.), 3 hr. 7 min. 16.7 sec. (at 98 laps).
3. F. Ashmore (E.R.A. 1,500-c.c., S.), 3 hr. 9 min. 28.7 sec. (at 98 laps).
4. Ascari (Maserati), 97 laps.
5. Pozzi (3.8-litre Delahaye), 95 laps.
6. Rosier (4.5-litre Talbot), 93 laps.
7. Brooke (E.R.A. 1,100 c.c., S.), 84 laps.
8. Chaboud (Delahaye), 67 laps.
This issue of Motor Sport contains reports of so many topical events that, much to our regret, "Sideslips" and many Readers' Letters are unavoidably held over.