Racing Prospects for 1931
WHAT THE COMING SEASON HOLDS.
AT this time of year when the active side of motor racing is at a standstill, the only consolation
for the enthusiast is to speculate on the prospects for the coming season and to attempt to imagine the contests which will actually be fought out between April and October. Already, of course, manufacturers’ and private entrants’ plans for next season’s racing ought to be taking fairly concrete shape, and by now some idea can be formed of what may be looked forward to in 1931.
Now that the Grand Prix has degenerated into such a poor shadow of its former glorious self, one may well start with a consideration of the prospects of the one real motor race for real racing cars which survives in practically its pristine glory. The Targa Florio must now be regarded as the great race of the year and in consideration of the character of the Sicilian circuit one must be glad that of all the great races it is this one that has survived. This year also, if all hopes are realised one may look forward to one of the finest contests which the Madonie circuit has ever witnessed.
The Bugatti Brigade.
In the first place Bugatti, the ever faithful, may again be looked on as a certain starter. Not the least interesting of the pieces of news which have come to hand recently is the information that Achille Varzi, the winner last year of the Targa Florio and the Grands Prix at Monza and San Sebastian, to mention only the most important of his victories, will this year be a member of the Bugatti team. This fact alone would render the Alsatian manufacturer’s prospects for next year rosy enough, but as well as Varzi, Bugatti will also have as his drivers Louis Chiron, Albert Divo, Bourriat and Count Conelli. Of these men Albert Divo has twice won the Targa Florio, and of course both Louis Chiron and Count Conelli have extensive experience of the Sicilian circuit. As far as his choice of drivers goes
therefore, Costantini must be feeling well satisfied -with his winter’s work, although of course Chiron, Divo and Bourriat are all permanent members of the Bugatti organisation, and therefore do not have to be specially engaged to drive. The last named, by the way, sells Bugattis in Paris, and makes rather a speciality of the baby Bugatti, although his entry into this children’s model is limited to about one of his feet !
While his drivers are chosen, however, no one as yet knows what type of car Bugatti will decide to use in the race. He has the choice of the well tried 2,300 c.c. model which has three times proved victorious in the Targa, and of the new 2-litre model with two overhead camshafts which was expected to appear last year, while it is just possible that one or more of the drivers will be entrusted with the new 4-litre 16-cylinder machines. At any rate it is probable that one or other of these new types will appear this year, which will add considerably to the technical interest of the season’s racing. As well as the official team it is probable that a number of independent Bugattisti will also take part in the Targa, and in the past some of them have shown themselves possessed of very real merit. Besides Bugatti, it may be anticipated that AlfaRomeo will also take part in this year’s Targa Florio. No less interesting than the news that Achille Varzi had joined the Bugatti team was the rumour which became general some little time ago, that in 1931 Rudolph Caracciola would drive for Alfa-Romeo. It would certainly be of outstanding interest to see the performance of the German champion, whose ancestors came to the Rhineland from Sicily some centuries ago, on the Madonie circuit, and in this event the chances of an Alfa-Romeo victory in the race in repetition of that of 1930 would seem bright. As well as Caracciola it seems probable that the famous Milanese firm will also retain Guiseppe Campari, for although he is now engaged as an operatic singer it is announced that
nevertheless he will not give up racing. The other members of the Alfa-Romeo team will probably be Tazio Nuvolari and Borzacchini, and together they should make a very strong quartet.
Like Ettore Bugatti, Nicola Romeo has also got a choice of cars for use in the Targa. He may decide to enter one or more of the famous old type P2 Grand Prix racers in view of Varzi’s victory on one of these cars last year, or he may decide to concentrate on the new litre straight-eight model. This type is going to be produced on a commercial scale in the near future, but it is closely modelled on the old 2-litre Grand Prix machine and its performance in the Targa would be certainly interesting, and probably impressive.
The third manufacturer to whom one can look as an almost certain starter in the Sicilian race is Maserati. This young Bologna firm has suffered a severe loss in the shape of Achille Varzi, who must certainly be considered as one of the very finest drivers of to-day : but it has still got Alfieri Maserati, Arcangeli and Pagioli, who form a by no means insignificant team. The 2ilitre Maserati, which was described last month in MOTOR SPORT was certainly improving in speed and reliability throughout last season, and cars of this type should be really dangerous competitors in the 1931 Targa, while here again it is possible that the 16-cylinder 4-litre car will compete.
While O.M. is another possible competitor it seems unlikely that any other strong teams will take part in the race. The presence of those already mentioned should however, provide a sufficiently good fiel, dand a really thrilling contest.
The announcement by the Sporting Committee of the A.C.F. that the French Grand Prix would be run at Montlhery has come as something of a blow to road racing enthusiasts. The rules for the Grand Prix races in Prance and Italy this year are still of course, in the melting pot, but it is probable that in the end both races will be open to any racing cars which can be collected. This of course, is unlikely to induce anyone to build any new racing cars, and at present the year holds forth little hope of the appearance of anything in the way of technical novelties. Manufacturers in fact, are likely again to ignore the Grand Prix type races and to confine their attention to the sports car events.
In this field of course, the outstanding feature must be that everyone will miss the presence of the Bentley team.
Le Mans in fact will not be the same without them, and it is to be feared that the British contingent will not be nearly so strong in the big sports car races as has previously been the case. On the other hand, there is a welcome revival of interest in racing on the Continent and it seems that several firms will this year return to racing or come to it afresh. In the first place one must offset against the definite loss of the Bentleys from Le Mans the fact that the first entry for the race consists of three Bugattis. It is expected that these cars will consist of the new 5-litre straight eight sports model with two overhead camshafts, but Bugatti himself has made no statement on the subject. The drivers of the cars will be the team of five already mentioned and one other who is still to be chosen, and it seems certain that this team will be one of the most formidable in the race.
Another piece of news with regard to le Mans, which is no less acceptable, is that this year Lorraine-Dietrich, the victor in 1925 and 1926, will again return to the fray. Beyond this, Maserati is taking steps to see that his sports model will be sufficiently genuinely in production to make it eligible for the race, and both these teams should provide really good competition. Rumour also has it that in spite of the disaffection of Rudolf Caracciola, Mercedes will this year run a full team in the race, an idea that seems almost too good to be true. However, it seems fairly well assured that the Grand Prix d’Endurance will this year provide as good or better a contest than has been seen for some time.
A Hopeful Outlook.
In the same way the English races of this coming season hold out hopes of considerable success. Even if Bentley is absent, this country can at least hope to be represented by such cars as Talbot, Alvis, Aston-Martin, Lea-Francis, Riley and Austin, while there seems just a chance that this year Sunbeam may decide to race again, which would give us a really worthy representative in the big car class. Pronteras is getting together a team to run the Maseratis over here, and it is probable that others of the Italians such as Alfa-Romeo and O.M. will also run. The new 2i-litre Alfa-Romeo incidentally is being got ready with all haste to take part in the Italian 1,000 Miles Race, where it will probably have a considerable duel with the Maseratis.
Thus on the whole it seems that we can look forward to a season full of interest and rest assured that motor racing is by no means dead.
Colin Chapman built his first car in Hornsey, not Hackney, as I stated incorrectly in my road test of the Lotus Esprit S2 last month. - C. R.
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