BUGATTI VICTORY AT PICARDIE ROBERT BENOIST A POPULAR WINNER ON A 3.3-LITRE BUGATTI. EARL HOWE SECOND. ONLY SIX FINISHERS.
“THERE is a pleasant air of informality A about the G.P. of Picardie. Enthusi
asm is the reigning factor, and the organisation and general arrangements, while being perfectly adequate, are not intended to be elaborate.
The circuit of Peronne is 9.765 kilometres in length, and has some fast stretches. This year two chicanes, or S bends, were introduced, consisting of three barriers of straw trusses. In spite of this attempt to reduce speed the existing lap record and the records for the race were all beaten. The lap record was surpassed on the first day of practice, Benoist and Lord Howe (3.3 Bugatti) and Sommer (litre Alfa-Romeo) all clocking 4m. 24 secs., 133k.p.h. The previous record was 131.600 k.p.h., made by Falchetto (Maserati). The latter, incidentally, provided some amusement this year in the form of a very juvenile mechanic about nine years old, who solemnly “chocked” the wheels every time the car came to rest.
The next day Benoist got down to 4m. 17secs., while Lord Howe was only second slower. The day was marked by an accident to Mme. Itier’s 2.3-litre Bugatti. Her spare driver and mechanic was at the wheel, but luckily he was not seriously hurt. Not so the car, which was damaged beyond immediate repair. Mme. !tier promptly arranged for her 8 cyl. 1,500 c.c. Bugatti to be sent to Peronne, and spent the hours before the race anxiously waiting its arrival.
The start was scheduled for 1.30 p.m., under depressing grey skies and a threat of rain. Actually the cars were not away until 2.45 p.m. There were three nonstarters ; J. P. Wimille, whose 3.3 Bugatti was not ready, Lehoux (S.E.F.A.C.) for a similar reason, and de Villapadierna (Maserati). The rest of the competitors were drawn up in the following order :Front row : Benoist (Bugatti), Howe (Bugatti), Sommer (Alfa-Romeo). 2nd row : Brunet (Maserati), Delorme (Bugatti), Mme Itier (Bugatti). 3rd row : Mlle Helle-Nice (Alfa-Romeo), Soffietti (Mase(Maserati), and Longueville (Bugatti). When M. Remy, president of the A.C. de rati), Girod (Maserati). 4th row : Falchetto
Picardie, dropped his flag, 13enoist drew away from Earl Howe and the rest of the field. These two were still leading at the end of the first lap, followed by Sommer’s mono posto Alfa-Romeo.
After to laps, or a quarter of the race, Benoist was leading by 14 seconds from Howe, who was a lap ahead of Delorme’s 2.3-litre twin camshaft Bugatti. Then came the two ladies, Mme. Itier and Mlle. Helle-Nice, and last of all Raymond Sommer who was at the pits with plug trouble. The pits, incidentally, were uncovered, and simply consisted of a counter. On the 18th lap Benoist pulled into his pit to change his brakes, and immediately the race became a little more exciting. Earl Howe slipped into the lead, and was im. 4osecs. ahead of Benoist when the latter got away. The factory driver then gave a pretty exhibition of driving, clipping a few seconds per lap off Howe’s lead. On the 22nd lap the Englishman pulled in to refuel and change his brakes. All went
well until it was ;Attempted to restart the engine. There was not a sign of life in it, and some anxious moments were spent in tracing the trouble to the down-draught carburettors, which were affected by the fact that the pits were situated on a slight slope.
By the time the trouble was rectified, Benoist was three minutes ahead, with fifteen laps to go. At this point Sommer had got his Alfa going once more and was only 8 seconds behind Howe. Then Lord Howe had to pull in to change his brakes once more, which seem to be a weak point of the Bugatti. This stoppage put Benoist in a safer position still, and he ran out a comfortable winner by a whole lap. Sommer had been in trouble with plugs and was a lap behind Howe,
1. Benoist (Bugatti 3.3), 2h. 59m. 48.2seos., 130.342 k.p.h.
2. Earl Howe (Bugatti 3.3), 1 lap behind.
3. Sommer (Alfa-ltomeo 3-litre), 2 laps behind.
4. Mlle. Helld-Nice (Alfa-Romeo 3-litre), 4 laps behind.