ENGLISH SMALL CARS SWEEP THE BOARD AT LE MANS
GRAND PRIX D’ENDURANCE WON BY CHINETTI (ALFA ROMEO). TH E Sarthe circuit has been since its inception the testing ground of the British sports car, and this year in the small classes our constructors have brought off a series of successes quite
comparable to those of the Bentley of former days. Aston Martins showed a fine turn of speed and stamina until they were eliminated by a series of unusual troubles, and after the Astons had fallen out th:,,ir places were adequately filled by Rib2y, M.G., and Singer. All but two of the large cars disappeared by the end of the first twelve hours, and the winner was in constant trouble with a damaged petrol tank.
A large entry, of which more than 50 per cent. were driving British cars, had been received for this year’s 24 Hours Race, and actually 44 cars came to the starting line. Practising was uneventful, and no exceptional speeds were put up. An interesting car eliminated at the last moment was the Duesenburg, entered by Prince Nicholas of Roumania. The throttle valve stuck open on the morning before the race, liquid petrol washed the oil off one piston, and it promptly seized. He was undeterred by his misfortune, and has already decided to run again next year.
The course and the regulations of the race remained unaltered, but a second storey had been built over all the pits. The top floor was nominally for the &pipes underneath, but as they cost I:25 each, not everyone cared to acquire one. The Grand Stands and pits were as usual gay with national flags and advertising banners, with the familiar beds of geraniums outside the A.C.O. offices ; and bright sunshine and jostling crowds all added to the holiday atmosphere which prevails at Continental motor races.
Drivers and mechanics stood chatting in little groups round the cars ; then came the stentorian voice of the loud-speakers. A minute of confusion, then all the cars were ranged in front of the pits, pointing diagonally up the road, Veyron’s 4.9 Bugatti nearest the flag, with Metchim’s little Austin nearly a quarter of a mile away at the other end of the line.
The drivers faced their cars on the other side of the road, many of them darting nervously across to see if doors were open and ignition on, until the starter raised the Tricolour.
Down swooped the flag, and Sommer was the first to press his starter button ; but Rose-Richards, who was on his right, got away before him. F. E. Clifford, on a green-painted Alfa, was second round the corner, followed by Sommer and Chinetti, both on 2.3 Alfas, and Labric, driving the Equipe Veyron 4.9 Bugatti. RoseRichards still led on the second lap, hard pressed by Sommer, who appeared in the lead the third time round. The order then became Sommer, Rose-Richards, Chinetti, Clifford, all on 2.3 Alfas, and remained so for some laps. Next came Labric’s Bugatti and Brunet’s 2.3, followed closely by Ford on a blown Magnette.
Compared with this first group, the small cars seemed rather tame, but the Astons soon got moving. All, that is, except the unfortunate Bertelli. His gearbox sAzed in bottom gear at Arnage in the first lap and the car spun round to face the opposite way. After half the field had rushed up and swerved round him, he was able to pull in to the side of the road, and after a stop of twenty minutes got going again. After the first hour Sommer still led, but he had experienced engine trouble in practice, and it was doubtful if his car would last the course. Rose—Richards and Chine”zti were half a mile behind, then came the other Alfa. Labric’s high touring 4.9 Bugatti contrasted strangely with
Brunet’s 2.3, which had a long sloping tail ; and Ford’s performance on the M.G. was particularly creditable if it could keep it up. Dixon on a 1,500 c.c. Riley, Morris Goodall on Aston Martin and Brian Lewis on a Singer of the same capacity were all on the same lap, but Lewis lost some time with a choked petrol filter.
Sommer did not remain in the lead for long, for at 5.30 it was announced that his car had caught fire at Arnage. He jumped clear without injury and managed to put out the blaze, but the car was too much damaged for him to continue. This accident put Rose-Richards in the lead, and as he was being closely pressed by Chinetti, and had only a 10 seconds lead at six o’clock, the fight for first positions was evidently going to be a keen one. The Clifford-Saunders Davis Alfa was a lap behind, while the order of the other leading cars remained the same. Ford’s fast driving had brought him into sixth place, while Fotheringham led the Aston Martin team cars.
The heat was still intense, and several of the English drivers made it quite clear what they intended to do with a bottle of beer when they returned to the pits ; while one driver we noticed contentedly munching a sandwich as he drove down the Hippodrome straight. Another thing not quite so amusing was a small English car which persisted in remaining in the middle of the road despite the shouts and wavings of Labric in the Bugatti. The hot sun had affected the surface near Arnage, and chippings had to be spread on it, and the Esses on the New Road were also rather loose. At 6.30 Rose-Richards drew into the pits, refuelled and tightened up the shock-absorbers, and Lord Howe took his
place at the wheel. Chinetti was evidently not going to stop for some time yet, and the English driver set off at a cracking pace to try to make up for the delay.
Mechanical trouble soon makes itself felt at Le Mans, and the first retirement from that cause was the Derby driven by Mrs. Stewart, with lack of oil pressure. This was the first time these neat little cars with their V8 engines had appeared in competition, and the popular Mrs. Stewart’s mishap was received with sympathy at the stands. An M.G. owned by Menier, the chocolate magnate, went out a short time later, a hole burnt clean through the piston, owing to the drying effect of running on pure benzol ; while Fourny, on a Bugatti, was disqualified for refuelling away from the pits. Lord Howe was still in strong pursuit of Chinetti and caught him just after 8 o’clock. The English driver had soon built up a 50 yards lead ; then the Italian pulled into the pits for refuelling and change of drivers. Etancelin leapt in, all
impatient to be off, but the mechanic took him by the shoulder and pointed to the back of the car. Back axle or tank evidently, and Etancelin returned to the pit counter. Last year’s lesson about having a good supply of chewing gum had evidently sunk in, and all hands were soon engaged in providing the necessary ” cement.” This delay gave Lord Howe a lead of over two laps, and as there was still 19 hours of racing to accomplish, there did not seem much prospect that Chinetti’s tank would stand the strain. Rose-Richards came in and took over from Lord Howe while Etancelin was held up. Clifford’s Alfa was stopped at the pits with a broken valve guide, and was withdrawn.
Ford and Baumer on the blown Magnette had been going splendidly, and were sixth at the third hour, fifth at the fourth, and finally fourth at the fifth hour. Their last year’s experience at Le Mans had given them some ideas about pit organisation, and a particularly bright notion was the neon lamp pit-signal worked from a car battery. Lord de Clifford, a near neighbour of theirs at the pits, was not so fortunate, for though the Lagonda Rapier was running like a clock, a chance stone had smashed the glass in one of the driver’s goggles and he had to come in at intervals to have his eye dressed.
Just before 9 p.m. the announcer reminded the pit-managers that the lights had to be lit. This caused a certain amount of bother to one of the Aston drivers, who did not realise that the regulations called for head-lights and continued on his side-lights alone. The French officials did not wish to stop the car unnecessarily, and risked their lives on several occasions by dancing in front of the fast-moving car and pointing to the head-lamps, much to the driver’s amazement.
ORDER AFTER 6 HOURS.
Metchim’s Austin, the smallest car in the race, is chased round the S bend by Appleton on an
followed by Morris Goodall-Elwes (Aston Martin), Dixon-Paul (Riley), Ber telliPenn-Hughes (Aston Martin), SebilleauDelaroche (Riley). With such a useful lead the posi tv ‘s I3ugatti, which, had been in second place since 11, ran a big-end an hour later, so Chinetti, with a six-lap lead, had nothing to worry about except his petrol tank. Ford’s remarkable Mag tion of the leading car seemed well assured for the hours of darkness, but just after ten it was seen that Lord Howe was no longer coming round. No news could be had for some time, and then it was learnt that he was stranded over on the Hippodrome straight with lights not functioning. Thomas, his mechanic, immediately set off to see if he could offer any nette was in second place, with Appleton and Elwes, on the two Aston Martin team cars, close behind. This happy state of affairs did not last long, for Appleton went off the road at the sharp corner at the beginning of the Hippodrome straight, while Ford was involved in a spectacular accident just before White House. Braking hard to avoid Quinalt’s Tracta,
advice, not, of course, being allowed to work on the car away from the pits, only to find that the driver had repaired the short and was continuing at speed. This mishap had cost him an hour and twenty minutes, but there was still two-thirds of the race to run.
The lights again gave trouble an hour later, but were quickly put right, and the chase went on, but greatly to everyone’s disappointment the clutch gave out at two in the morning, and the car had to be withdrawn.
he turned round and skidded backwards into it, and Brunet, who had been lying fifth on 2.3 Bugatti, slid into the ditch in trying to avoid the other two.The Tracta came out of it best, being able to continue after the tail had been straightened out ; while Ford’s petrol tank was too damaged to continue, and Brunet retired at the pits.
Some brilliant driving by Penn-Hughes and_ Bertelli had brought the third team Aston Martin into a useful position, but the starter pinion somehow engaged with the flywheel and locked everything solid, causing its retirement when most wanted. It fell then to the Rileys, which had been going well throughout, though at a slower pace. than the Astons, to take up the running for England. Von der Becke and Dixon on I+ litre cars,. and Sebilleau, the French driver, on a similar car, all entered the select circle of the first six.
ORDER AFTER 12 HOURS.
followed by Newsome-McClure (Riley), ” Vincent “-Faulkner (Aston Martin), Martin-Eccles (M.G.), Porthaull-Vernet (Lorraine). Dawn broke with almost tropical suddenness, but at 4 a.m, there was little to report, and all those who were not actively engaged in motoring rolled over to the other side again to get another hour of sleep. Unlike last year, the weather had remained good except for slight patches of mist, much to the satisfaction of the drivers and those who had
gone to sleep in the open round the course. The all-night bars were serving liquid which bore some resemblance to coffee to their rather sleepy customers, and the dancing floors were at last silent. Hendy’s Singer had been disqualified after 13 hours for not covering its minimum distance ; the second Derby had gone out with engine trouble, likewise a Salmson and a small Bugatti, but 31 ears
were still circulating. At 6 a.m. Rileys were 3„ 4, 5, 6, but Charles Martin displaced Newsome from sixth place. About 7 o’clock the wan spectators on the stands were serenaded by gramophone records of operatic sopranos and marches by accordeon bands, and showed their disapproval by derisive shouts. Behind the pits, however, a more English atmosphere prevailed, and well-known Brooklands habitues were seen washing themselves under water taps, while their devoted wives cooked bacon over Primus stoves. Etancelin, Morris Goodall and Sebilleau relieved their opposite numbers at the wheel, and Dixon prepared to take his turn ; but apart from that a Sabbath torpor still prevailed.
ORDER AFTER 18 HOURS.
1. Chinetti-Etancelin (Alfa Romeo) 2. Morris Goodall-Elwes (Aston
3. Sebilleau-Delarocbe (Riley) … 4. Dixon-Paul (Riley) … … S. Von der Becke-Peacock (Riley) 6. Martin-Erxies (M.G. Magnette) 164 154 150 148 148 147 17 17 17 58 59 57 02 32 18
followed by Newsome-McClure (Riley), Lewis-Hindmarsh (Singer), “Vincent “Faulkner (Aston Martin), Mahe-Devigne (Bugatti). All these, except the Bugatti, and the next six runners were British cars, which was very satisfactory. There was a sudden change of fortune just after 10, however, for Morris Goodall’s Aston failed to come round, and neither did Fotheringham’s. No news could be had for a time, then it was learnt that the former had retired with engine trouble, while the .other car was held up with a damaged oil pipe, which ultimately proved impossible to remedy. It was a sad ending to a fine
run, for the cars had been capable of close on 110 m.p.h., handled exceptionally well, and lapped the course at nearly 80 m.p.h. or as quickly as anything except the Alfas. The rest of the race was uneventful, led by the Alfa, which was lapping steadily at 75 m.p.h., with occasional stops to inspect the petrol tank. The old fourseater Lorraine, which has been almost as constant a visitor to Le Mans as M. Faroux himself, gave up with mechanical trouble. The Lagonda had been making steady progress in its first race until after midday, when it started to run on three
cylinders, but the defect was only a warped valve, and on three it finished. Von der Becke and Peacock were leading comfortably for the final of the RudgeWhitworth Cup, with Lewis and Hind
marsh second on a Singer.
Chinetti called at his pits to change over at 3.15, but Etancelin waved him on, and he continued uneventfully until the waving of the checquered flag at 4 o’clock. Not since 1928 has the Grand Prix d’Endurance been won at such a low average speed, last year’s figure being 81 m.p.h.
GRAND PRIX D’ENDURANCE.
I. P. Etancelin and L. Chinetti (Alfa Romeo 2,338 c.c. S.), 2,886.938 kms., 74.75 m.p.h.
2. J. Sebilleau and G. Delaroche (Riley 1,486 c.c.), 2,706.730 kms. 70.13 m.p.h.
3. F. W. Dixon and C. Paul (Riley 1,486 c.c.), 2,688.156 kills. 69.63 m.p.h.
4. C. E. C. Martin and Roy Eccles (M.G. Magn.ette 1,087 c.c. S.), 2,665.020 lens.
5. A. W. von der Becke and K. S. Peacock (Riley, 1,486 c.c.), 2,640.774 lens.
6. H. S. Newsome and E. McClure (Riley 1,486 c.c.), 2,637.932 lens.
7. Lewis and Hindrearsh (Singer 1,493 c.c.), 2,631.662 kms.
8. Barnes and Langley (Singer 1,493 c.c.), ‘2,598.158 lens.
9. Mahe and Desvigne (Bugatti 2,992 c.c.), 2,584.662 kms.
10. ” Vincent ” and Faulkner (Aston Martin, 1,494 C.C.), 2,541.334 kills.
11. Noel and Wheeler (Aston Martin 1,494 c.c.), 2,435.526 kms.
12. Trevoux and Carriere (Riley 1,087 c.c.), 2,352.688 kms.
13. Miss Champney and Mrs. Petre (Riley 1,087 c.c.), 2,327.024 lens.
14. de Gavardie and Duray (Arnikar 1,091 c.c.), 2,271.096 lens.
15. Black and Baker (Singer 976 c.c..), 2,203.376 kms. 16. Lord de Clifford and Brackenbury (Lagonda 1,089 c.c.), 2199.342 lens. I
17. Mine. tier and Duruy (M.G. Midget 896 c.c.), 2,191.198 lens.
18. Wisdom and Barnes (Singer 976 c.c.), 2,180.494 krns.
19. Quinault and Danielault (Tracta 996 c.c.), 2,131.724 kms.
20. Martin and Pousse (Amilcar 1,075 c.c.), 2,094.962 lens.
21. Alin and Alin (B.N.C. 992 c.c.), 2,027.286 kms. 22. Poire and Rob2i1 (Amilcar 1,094 c.c.), 2,000.288 lima 23. R. P. Gardner and Belce (Singer 976 c.c.), 1,939.012 kms. All these competitors having covered the minimum
distance under the regulations are qualified for the final of the Xlth Coupe Bienniale, 1934-1935.
Final of tho Xth Rudge-Whitworth Cup. I. Sebilleau and Delaroche (Riley) 1.3697.
2. Lewis and Ilindmarsh (Singer) 1.2549.
3. Langley and Barnes (Singer) 1.2387.