The Italian Grand Prix
GUISEPPE CAMPAR I and Tazio Nuvolari driving together on one of the new 2i-litre straight-eight Alfa-Romeos won the Italian Grand Prix which was run at Alonzo. on Sunday, 24th May. Second place was captured by another Alfa-Romeo _ of the same type driven by the veteran Minoia and Borzacchini, with Albert Divo and Guy Bouriat on one of the new Bugattis third. In the 1,500 c.c. class Ruggeri and Balestrero were first on one of the old 1927 Grand Prix straight-eight Talbots, just beating Pirola and Lurani on a 6-cylinder Alfa-Romeo.
The Italian Grand Prix, as the result of being moved forward from September to the 24th May, was the first of the three national Grands Prix, which this year will all count for various important prizes, the others being the French Grand Prix on 21st June and the Belgian Grand Prix in July. The difficulty in recent years has been to find a formula for these races which is acceptable to manufacturers. For long the races were run under the limited capacity regulations, and when this limitation seemed to have been used until manufacturers had tired of it, an attempt was made to run the races on a limited fuel consumption basis. This formula, however, proved no more popular than its predecessor, and it looked as if the Grands Prix were rapidly falling into disrepute. For this year, however, Baron Nothomb, the Belgian delegap and Cav. Vincenzo Florio, the represetitative of Italy, suggested to the Internatiknal Sporting Committee, that the races should be of ten hours duration and should be open to racing cars of any description. It was argued that engines in recent years have probably been developed in advance of the rest of the chassis, and that the best way to test the whole mechanism of the
car wasto drive it at high speed for a long period of time. Like every other attempt to revive real motor racing, the idea was immediately decried by the technical press in every country of Europe ; but it was adopted by the Sporting Committee, and the race which took place at Monza certainly seems to have shown that the formula has much to recommend it.
Fourteen Starters. Of the 25 entries, 14 cars finally were drawn up in front of the grand stands at Monza on the morning of 24th May. Two drivers per car were allowed under the rules, and the starters with their drivers announced for them were as follows :—
Klinger and Ghersi (Maserati).
Varzi and Chiron (Bugatti I).
Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti II).
Lehoux and Ftancelin (Bugatti), Wimille and Gaupillat (Bugatti). Senechal and Fietet (Delage). Ivanowski and Stoffel (MerceEs). Campari and Alinozzi (Alfa-Romeo I). Nuvolari and Borzacchini (Alfa 11). Minira and Zehender (Alfa-Romeo III). Pirola. and Lurani (Alfa-Romeo). Ruggeri and Balestrero (Talbot). de Vecchio and Ferrari (Talbot). Caniato and Torlini (Alfa-Romeo). Among the more important absentees were the official team of three Maseratis which had been withdrawn owing to the fact that two of the cars had been crashed in the Targa Florio, and the marque was therefore only represented by an amateur entry driven by Klinger and Gliersi, the two other private Maseratis entered by Pedrazzini and Castelbarco, having been withdrawn. A second Merced's had also been entered and was to have been driven by Strazza and Mano, who started together in the 1,000 Miles Race, but its withdrawal left Ivanowski and Stoffel to start by themselves on their giant 7-litre machine. A 1,500 c.c. Alfa-Romeo which
was to be driven by Lettieri was also an absentee as was an Itala entered by Facehetti and three Bugattis whose drivers had never been announced.
Of the cars which were left the most likely to prove the winner was obviously either one of the two Bugattis or one of the three Alfa-Romeos entered by their manufacturers. The Bugattis were of course of the new 2,300 c.c. type with the double overhead camshaft straight-eight engine and had as their drivers Achille Varzi, Louis Chiron, Albert Divo and Guy Bouriat who form the official Bugatti team. Two of the Alfa-Romeos which were to be driven by Campari, Minozzi, Affinoia and Zehender were of the new 24-litre straight-eight type, while the third, to be driven. by Nuvolari and Borzacchini was the new 12-cylinder racer to which reference is made elsewhere. Of the remaining entries the two other Bugattis were driven by amateurs, and the 1,500 c.c. class consisted of Senechal's Deluge and the two Talbots, all three of which are 1927 Grand Prix racers, together with the two remaining AlfaRomeos which were 6-cylinder machines.
In brilliant sunshine and hi view of an enormous crowd the start was given at 7 o'clock on the Sunday morning. Rather to everyone's surprise, Lehoux, the amateur driver from North Africa was the first away on his Bugatti, and he was not caught by Varzi of the official team until nearly the end of the first lap. The latter, however, soon took the lead, closely followed by Campari. and it was soon apparent that the Bugatti-Alfa duel was going to be keen. At the end of the first lap Divo on Bugatti II stopped to change a plug, and Senechal on the Delage was also early in trouble. He stopped at the end of the third lap for four minutes in an attempt to cure violent misfiring, and got going again only to stop once more on the eighth lap for a long time to work on his magneto. On the tenth lap Divo also stopped again to change a tyre, an ominous proceeding so early in the race. The Bugatti hopes therefore were now fixed on Varzi, who was leading the race, though so hotly pursued by Campari that after the first five laps he had a lead of only 27 seconds which had only been increased to 36 seconds by the tenth lap. At the end of the first hour the order was as follows :
1. Varzi (Bugatti), 162 kilometres 700.
2. Campari (Alfa-Romeo), 160 km.
3. Lehoux (Bugatti), 159 km.
4. Minoia (Alfa-Romeo), 154 km.
5. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo). 6. Ivanowski (Merced s),
7. Ruggeri (Talbot).
8. Klinger (Maserati).
9. Divo (Bugatti).
10. Wimille (Bugatti).
11. di Vecchio (Talbot).
12. Pirola (Alfa-Romeo).
13. Caniato (Alfa-Romeo).
14. Senechal (Pelage). Behind the leaders the giant Merced s, although obviously not at its best on the track, was going extremely well, ably driven by Boris Ivanowski who is one of the few men who can be trusted to keep a car like this weighing a couple of tons and possessed of terrific speed from going off the course. Interest, however, continued to centre on the Bugatti-Alfa duel. By the fifteenth lap Varzi had a lead of a minute over Campari, which he had increased by 5 seconds by the twentieth. Then on the 24th lap the veteran Campari proceeded to set up a record for the Monza road-circuit in 3 minutes 32 4/5 seconds. In the meantime Minoia had passed Lehoux, and Nuvolari, who was gradually working up speed on the 12-cylinder machine had got past both of them, while Divo in spite of another stop on the twentieth lap to change tyres had got ahead of the Mercedes. After two hours of the race had gone, the order was as follows :
1. Varzi (Bugatti), 329 km. 600.
2. Campari (Alfa-Romeo), 322 km.
3. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 313 km.
4. Minoia (Alfa-Romeo), 312 km.
5. Lehoux (Bugatti), 311 km.
6. Divo (Bugatti), 302 km.
7. Ivanowski (Merced's), 295 km.
8. Ruggeri (Talbot), 293 km.
9. Klinger (Maserati), 291 km.
and the remainder in the same order as before. Soon after the beginning of the third hour a dramatic event occurred, for Nuvolari drew up at his depot with the new Alfa-Romeo and the car was withdrawn. Thereupon it was decided that Nuvolari should relieve Campari at the wheel of Alfa-Romeo I instead of Minozzi and that Borzacchini should act as second driver to Minoia on Alfa-Romeo III in place of Zehender. At about half past nine in fact, when one quarter of the race was over most of the cars came into the pits to refuel and change drivers. Varzi on the leading car did the work rapidly, and the Bugatti was soon away again with
Louis Chiron at the wheel. The Monegasque champion had hardly got going, however, when he was seen to be slowing down, and shortly afterwards it was announced that the car had had to be withdrawn with a broken ball-race in the back axle. The race was thus robbed of a great feature of interest as it now looked as if the Alfa-Romeos would have things all their own way. At the end of the third hour the order was as follows :
1. Campari (Alfa-Romeo), 466 km.
2. Minoia (Alfa-Romeo), 462 km.
3. Lehoux (Bugatti), 459 km.
4. Klinger (Maserati), 446 km.
5. Divo (Bugatti), 446 km.
6. Chiron (Bugatti I), 446 km.
7. Ivanowki (Mercedes).
8. Ruggeri (Talbot).
and the others as before. Bugatti I still figured in the race as its withdrawal had not as yet been officially announced. Klinger on the Maserati was now making a great spurt and during the third hour had moved up from ninth to fourth place. Shortly afterwards Lehoux was forced to retire with a broken valve, and the amateur Bugatti entry which had made such a brilliant start in the race was thus out of the running. As a result the Maserati moved up into third place behind the two leading Alfa-Romeos. Campari in the meantime had been relieved by Nuvolari and Minoia by Borzacchini, but the two cars continued their triumphant progress. At the end of the fourth hour the order was as follows :
I. Campari and 638 km.
2. Minoia and xneo), 610 km.
3. Klinger and km.
4. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 560 kin.
5. Ivanowski and Stoffel (MercaVs).
6. Wimille and Gaupillat (Bugatti).
7. Pirola and Luram (Alfa-Romeo).
8. di Vecchio and Ferrari (Talbot). During the fifth hour the two Alf aRomeos proceeded to pull steadily away Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), Borzacchini (Alfa-RoGhersi (Maserati), 600 from the 2i-litre Maserati, until their lead was so substantial that Signor Jano had signals made to them to slow down. The Bugatti driven by Divo and Bouriat was still suffering from apparently endless tyre troubles, those on the near side of the car, which was on the outside of the corners on this right-hand course, persistently bursting on their inner sides. The tyres used were of ordinary racing type, but at about this time in the race, Meo Costantini, who was in charge of the Bugatti pit, decided to change over to the special new Targa Florio type. Immediately all tyre troubles vanished, and the Bugatti rapidly succeeded in overhauling and passing the Maserati. At the end of five hours running, or half way through the race, the order was as follows :
1. Campari and Nuvolari (AlfaRomeo), 784 km.
2. Minoia and Borzacchini (AlfaRomeo), 776 km. 3. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 740 km
4. Klinger and Gliersi (Maserati), 707 km.
5. Ivanowski and Stoffel (Mercedes), 697 km.
6. Ruggeri and Balestrero (Talbot).
7. Wimille and Gaupillat (Bugatti).
8. di Vecchio and Ferrari (Talbot).
9. Pirola •and Lurani (Alfa-Romeo).
Senethal, though never figuring among the leaders, still appeared from time to time, doing a few laps and then returning to his pit to change his magneto again. In spite of his troubles, however, he maintained his usual imperturbable manner and always found time as he passed the grandstands to have a good look round and inspect the crowd. The feature of the sixth hour of the race was the sudden leap into prominence of the second amateur-entered Bugatti, driven by Wimille. Ruggeri's Talbot slowed somewhat and fell back, but Wimille succeeded in passing not only it but also the big Merced:s and thus gained fifth place. Wimille is one of the younger of the French Bugattisti and looks like becoming famous one day. At the end of the sixth hour the order was as follows :
1. Campari and Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 931 km.
2. Minoia and Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo), 923 km.
3. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 900 km.
4. Klinger and Ghersi (Maserati), 865 km.
5. Winaille and Gaupillat (Bugatti) 831 km.
6. Ifanowski and Stoffel (Mercedes).
7. di Vecchio and Ferrari (Talbot).
8. Pirola and Lurani (Alfa-Romeo).
9. Ruggeri and Balestrero (Talbot).
Campari completed 1,000 kilometres in 6 hours 26 minutes 30 seconds, or at an average speed of just over 97 m.p.h. Nearly half an hour later, however, poor Senechal, after seven hours running, had only covered 489 kilometres.
During the afternoon the Maserati, which hitherto had been going really well and looked like upholding the honours of the marque worthily in the absence of the official team, drew into its pit and the crew commenced extensive work on the engine. While they were thus engaged they were passed by Wiraille and Gaupillat's Bugatti, the Merceck s, Ruggeri and Balestrero's Talbot and the 1,500 c.c. Alfa-Romeo driven by Pirola and Count Lurani. The two last named cars as a matter of fact were engaged in a most terrific duel for first place in the 1,500 c.c. class covering lap after lap with scarcely a length separating them. Divo at the same time, now that his tyre troubles were over, was making desperate efforts to catch the flying red Alfa-Roraeos, but it seemed that the Italian cars had too great a lead for the Bugatti to be able to get ahead, although it was perhaps the fastest car on the course. As the hour of five approached public attention became fixed on the leaders,
Just, however, when it looked as if no more exciting incidents were likely to be witnessed, Borzacchini on what was to be his penultimate lap, struck a pheasant, which are quite common objects at Monza, with the radiator of the second Alf aRomeo while travelling at over 125 m.p.h. If the bird had hit the driver's head instead of the car it can easily be imagined that a nasty accident would have occurred, as Borzacchini' must at least have been stunned. As it was he. feared that the impact must have damaged his radiator, and on completing the lap, pulled up at his pit and stopped for about 5 seconds to inspect the damage. While he was there Divo flashed past on the Bugatti, but the Alfa had a lead of a lap, and on discovering that his stone guard had withstood the shock and prevented the radiator being holed, Borzacchini shot off again to complete one more lap before the time limit was up. At five o'clock the race was stopped and Campari's Alfa-Romeo I was declared the victor, having covered about eight miles more than the second car of the team. The first three cars had covered a considerably greater distance than their nearest rival, but in the 1,500 c.c. class the duel between the two leading cars continued right up to the end, the Talbot finally getting home first by little more than a hundred yards. The final result was as follows :
1. Campari and Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo), 1,547 km. 500.
2. Minoia and Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo), 1,534 km. 800.
3. Divo and .Bouriat (Bugatti), 1,525 km. 300.
4. Wimille and Gaupillat (Bugatti), 1,385 km. 950.
5. Ivanowski and Stoflel (IVIercedi:s), 1,341 km. 100.
6. Ruggeri and Balestrero (Talbot), 1,290 km. 200.
7. Pirola and Lurani (Alfa-Romeo), 1,290 km. 080.
8. Klinger and Ghersi (Maserati), 1,148 km. 400. 9. Senechal and Fietet (Delage), 809
The winners' average speed of 154.755 k.p.h. is equal to approximately 96.16 m.p.h.
The winning Alfa-Romeo is one of the new racing editions of the 2,300 c.c. sports model which appeared for the first time in the 1,000 Miles Race in April. The 8-cylinder engine now has a bore and stroke of 76 x 88 mm., giving a capacity of 2,476 c.c., the bore having been increased by 2 mm. compared with the original sports edition. The cylinders are east in two blocks, with the ten bearing camshaft bolted together in the centre, where are two helically cut gear wheels, one driving the supercharger, oil pumps and water pump, and the other operating the two overhead camshafts through a couple of intermediary pinions. There are two valves per cylinder and the valve gear is very similar to that on the 6-cylinder 1,750 c.c. model. The sparking plugs are situated in the centre of the cylinder head and are fed by a coil. The supercharger, which is of Roots type runs rather above engine speed, the compression ratio is 6.2 to 1, and dry-sump lubrication is used. The engine is built up as a unit with a multi-disc clutch and 4-speed gearbox, while the propellor shaft is enclosed in a torque tube. Suspension is by 4-elliptic springs all round, those at the front being shackled at their forward end.