A FANTASTIC MONTE CARLO RALLY ZAMFIRESCOU AND CRISTEA WIN ON V8 FORD — SCHELL (DELAHAYE) SECOND LAHAYE AND QUATRESOUS (RENAULT) THIRD
The 1936 Monte Carlo Rally will go down in motoring history as a Rally of surprises. In the first place it proved unexpectedly mild over all routes except the rather despised British run, from John o’ Groats.
Then the alarming results Of the 37 m.p.h. average over the 1,000 kms., from Paris outwards, and, last but not least, the cunning displayed by competitors in preparing their cars for the figure-of-eight tests, which resulted in many cases of drivers from the easier starting points beating the die-hard, or so it Seemed at the Start of the Rally, who had ventured out to Athens. The cars which took the first three places started from the latter point, but the fourth and subsequent high positions were taken by those competitors who started from Tallinn.
The markings from the seven principal starting points were as follows : Athens 506, Bucarest and Tallinn 503, Umea, Stavanger and Palermo 501 and John o’ Groats 496.
There were fourteen starters from Athens and all but one of them get through to Monte Carlo without the loss of a mark. Conditions in Greece have now greatly improved and there are actually bus services running on the roads round Athens and Salonika. l3ulgaria still provides some very rough riding, but everyone made it and passed safely through Yugo-Slavia and Hungary to Vienna.
A heavy snowdrift in the Salsburg district might have proved a serious obstacle, but a path had been cut through wide enough to permit the Rally cars, not without much bumping, to gain their way to Germany and France.
Of the Tallinn route full details appear elsewhere in this number. On page 120 an article about the journey to Tallinn commences, while the actual I ally run is printed on pages 146 to 148. The illustrations with these articles give a good idea of the conditions met with en route.
The roads presented no difficulty to a car properly prepared. 13ticarest in previous years was something of a forlorn hope, but the revision of the route now avoids Poland, and has brought it within the bounds of possibility. In fact all four starters got through, one of them having an English driver, F. Thellusson. There was mud in Roumania and ice and fog in Czechoslovakia, but after that the run was comparatively simple.
The run from Sweden this year proved unusually trying. Driving north through Stockholm en route for the starting point, competitors had found rain and thaw, but further north deep snow was encountered. Starting off from Umea, the cars rail between walls of snow six feet high, on a track only wide .enough for one car. Fortunately the drivers in the lead were experienced and fast and all drivers got through on time. In the Stockholm region frost had again set in and drivers were kept on the qui vive right down to the Danish ferry, driving on ice-coated
roods all the way. Condit ions from Stavanger were
similar and the narrow roads from the west coast right down to Oslo and the wider highways which lead to the Swedish border, were treacherous with verglass.
Caledonia was very stern and wild as competitors foregathered at John o’ Groats, and there was considerable doubt as to whether the return journey was possible.
On the run down, snow drifts alternated with patches of ice, and here and there a thaw had set in and the hollows between successive hills were filled with a foot of water and slush.
More wonder that nearly every competitor, on reaching Aberdeen, had lost ninety marks. Brian Lewis’s S.S. went into a ditch which cost him a further hour. The only competitor who managed to keep a clean sheet was Miss Astbury, who handled her Singer as though she had been driving on dry roads.
Experienced Rally drivers had prophesied trouble when asked to average 37 m.p.h. over the last 1,090 lcms., particularly on those narrow stretches between Avignon, Brignoles and Monte Carlo.
Two terrific crashes we witnessed Ourselves. One was a Ford Sedan which crashed into a tree at the side of the road, and another where a small car had collided with two others and was lying on its back in a field. Whalley who had piloted his Ford from Athens without loss of marks, suddenly found his brakes had failed when confronted with a levelcrossing barrier and crashed right through, just missing a train. Vasselle put paid to his Hotchkiss by a head-on collision with two cars shooting over the brow of a hill. Frantic driving was the order of the day on the last section, and cars were doing 85 m.p.h. down the Promenade at Nice. Those who knew the Riviera took the Moryenne Corner on to Monte Carlo, but less fortunate ones took the coast toad and fought their way past giant motor buses. Difficult pieces of had luck were A. Scott, who again took his eightyear-old 4-litre Bentley through Unica but failed by one minute to check in on time. Miss Astbury had her gear-box fail in the last few minutes, being the only competitor to get through from John o’ Groats without less of marks. A
minute was the usual margin and it was supermen like Berlescu on his Ford, who had ten minutes in hand, who could afford to drive about the town on full throttle looking for the final check which was set on the Quid d’Albert.
There, papers were examined and engines sealed, or rather paint marks checked, and . the cars were then parked in the open for the night. Monte Carlo was wet and miserable under heavy showers, and drivers and crews stumbled thankfully to waiting hotel buses and a most welcome return to comfort.
Next day was fine, and with black clouds hanging over we expected the factor of the complicated figure-of-eight test.
Preceding this was a starting test from cold, five minutes being allowed for this, and almost the only failure was a Plymouth driven by Mrs. G. Molander which was found to have a completely dry petrol tank. Surely an unusual circumstance on such an important occasion.
The cars took part in the final test in the order in which they arrived at Monte Carlo and the list began with a group from John o’ Groats. Mann on his 4L-1itre Lagonda was first and did well to record 1 min. 35.8 secs. Mrs. M. J. Cotton was five Secs. slower in the list with her Aston-Martin and limes on a Riley Imp then got down to 1.22 7/10. After a series: of quiet runs came Mah4 on a low-built baby sports Talbot, who Snapped the time back to 1.16 and following him, Dobell on his Lagonda Rapide improving the Frenchman’s time by half-a-second in spite of the much greater weight and wheelbase of the English car. Balester on a two-seater Hudson got down to 1.9 8/10 secs, then came the ‘turn of Trevoux and his Hotchkiss, a competitor who had won from Athens two years a’go, in 1.17 7/10 which was the best he could do while Guyot, whose Renault concealed a 5litre beneath its short bonnet, did a snappy 1.6 8/10. Light, on the two-seater A.C. was supposed to have a good chance but spoilt things by ramming the sand bags and
losing marks. D. H. Murray (FrazerNash-B.M.W.) made ,..xcellent use of the car’s lock to record 1.14 9/10 secs. There came a few other numbers and then Ouatresous, partner of Lahaye who was the winner of last year’s Monte Carlo Rally, on a Renault slid’ the car fast through the eight, evident of a terrific lock, and recorded 1.10 9/10 secs., not a winning number but sufficient for a first run. Then came the first display of acrobatics. S. A. Beyer and Clausen (Ford), the Dutchmen who started from
Umea, came down the course at great speed and then when they arrived at the reversing point, locked over the steering and jammed on the brakes. The tail of the car swung round and, after attacks of reverse to comply with the regulations, they rhot away to the ” wiggle-woggle,” the extraordinary performance resulting in a time of 1.101 secs., but more was to come. Bakker Schut, the Dutch driver who had been first at every control nearly all the way from Tallinn on his Ford, came down with even greater speed and, reaching the reversing pylon, his car seemed suddenly to leap, and landed pointing in the correct direction. He had his lead-cable controlling the rear brakes to the track rod, and when the steering was swung full right, the brakes locked. This manceuvre gave Bakker Schut a time of 1.5 6/10, the fastest yet recorded. After these excitements it was a relief to see a smooth performance by Healey, who took his Triumph Dolomite round the course in 1.9 8/10. Schell followed this by an equally happy run on his Delahaye in 1.7 7/10, proving that abnormal driving methods were not essential for success. Mlle. Helle-Nice, the well-known driver of Bugattis, tried to repeat her style of cornering with her Matford, but required two reverses to get round, and this so infuriated her that she failed to take her foot off the accelerator at the far end of the course and smote
the front-end of her car a resounding smack on the stonework of the Promenade.
The veteran, Carriere, who had taken a Ford from Athens, made a useful 1.14 3/10 and Symons, on one of the few genuine touring cars in the Rally, went through the test in 1.26 6/10 on his big Wolseley saloon unperturbed by heeling over and groans from the tyres. Stoffel, another experienced driver, put his 2-litre Peugeot through the hoops in 1.12 9/10.
D. E. Harris had driven his Singer 9 almost single handed from Tallinn, never exceeding 50 m.p.h. ; now he entered with abandon round the figure eight to record 1.15 3/10. Fords continued to roll and spin round the figure-of-eight in a fashion other than that intended by the makers, but the supreme performances were made by Cristea and Berlescu. Cristea had brought the pepe queue to a fine art, his car swinging steadily at each end of the course, and rather suggesting the solid back axle. Unfortunately he forgot to complete the eight. Berlescu actually managed 1.3 6/10, but tailed to make one of the necessary reversals. Once again a motor bus had been allowed to compete and Tiel, who started from Amsterdam in a Minerva, covered the course with real virtuosity and a continued use of reverse. The first series of runs ended with Pinault and Schell in the lead and Bakker Schut and Healey in
the next. After a well-earned drink and a sandwich, the officials returned to their task of a second four hours of putting the cars through their paces.
As was expected, most of the experienced drivers were reserving themselves for the second run, and times were up in nearly every case. Trevoux was less exciting than was expected with a time of 1.11 7/10, but Quatresous was on his mettle and improved his time to 1.7 2/10. Schell countered with 1.5 4/10, a remarkable performance, especially as he was not a professional driver, but it was left to Cristea to administer the coup de grace. He rushed down to the reversing pylon and slid gracefully round, forced his car round the figure-of-eight with the front heeling over at 45 degrees, completed another about turn at the far end of the course, and shot! over the line with a time of 1 min. 5 secs. dead. As he admitted afterwards, he had practised the test nearly 400 times so he deserved his success.
No English car came anywhere near these figures ; Healey was four seconds slower on his second run, while Light got round in 1.18.
Another English win in the Monte Carlo Rally can only be secured by a special car driven by a man who has been willing to practise unceasingly, and these two conditions are not likely to be fulfilled.