“Bira’s” 16-valve Maserati First. Peter Monkhouse Second in Type 51 Bugatti.
Reported for Motor Sport by Louis Klemantaski.
Chimay, in the south-west corner of Belgium, staged that rare event, a race run under Formule Libre, the entry being subdivided into under and over 2-litre cars. Thus, many British drivers with non-formula cars got what is probably their only chance of road racing this year. The G.P. was preceded by a Sports Car race, also split into the same two categories.
The entries ranged from such modern cars as 16-valve Maserati, Cisitalia and Delahaye to vintage types of Alfa, Bugatti and even a Georges Irat.
These events marked the debut in real road racing of Peter Clark’s “Aerodynamic” H.R.G., John Heath and his 2-litre sports Alta, Peter Monkhouse and his “2.3” Bugatti, R. Salvadori (driving the ex-Kenneth Evans Monoposto AlfaRomeo), Tony Rolt’s ex-Alfa-Aiken, E. W. K. Lund and his blown M.G., and, one might almost say, of Abecassis’ rejuvenated “3.3” Bugatti.
The lap is roughly 6 1/2 miles long, with the starting line and pits on a slight downgrade. The course was lined by vast crowds who sat on the very edge of the road, even on the outside of the corners. The surface was very rough, one bump in particular, on a curve, making the cars airborne and their touch-down askew.
The start of the Sports Car race saw Giraud-Cabantous in a 3.6-litre streamlined Delahaye take the lead and keep it unchallenged to the end. John Heath took and held 2nd place. Meyrat stalled his Talbot in the front row but later made up for lost time so effectively that he got 3rd place. The under 2-litre class was more exciting, the B.M.W.s of Legros and Oscar Moore and the “Aerodynamic” H.R.G. of Peter Clark coming round in close company for several laps. Then Moore’s engine threw a rod and later Clark was passed by Bossu on the D.B. after a bonnet-to-bonnet dive the whole length of the straight, so that the final order was: Legros, Bossu, Clark, Flahaut driving a Gordini Simca Fiat, and Berger, on a 1 1/2-litre Alvis with local streamlined body, 5th.
The G.P. massed start gave Abecassis (“3.3” Bugatti) and “Bira” (16-valve 1 1/2-litre Maserati), who were in the front row, a clear lead, the Bugatti coming round just ahead of “Bira” at the end of the first lap. Next lap “Bira” was in the lead and Abecassis dropping back with fuel starvation due to loss of pressure in a leaky tank. Giraud-Cabantous, using the same car that won the Sports Car race, minus wings, was lying third until he retired. Abecassis pulled in to the pits and also retired and simultaneously “Bira” made a quick pit-stop and then went on to win easily. Peter Monkhouse, in the “2.3” Bugatti, ran steadily and was only passed by Rolt. The latter was then slowed by some unexplained trouble, but got going later and drove with all his accustomed verve, but could not get above 8th place.
Rosier, on a Talbot Logo, finished 3rd, Beels on a “2.3” Alfa-Romeo 4th, and Salvadori, who only had top gear after trouble in practice, 5th.
The main change in the G.P. was that “Bira” substituted his 16-valve Maserati for the old “2.9” which had not gone well in practice. Last year when he ran the “2.9” he had trouble.
The D.B. which came in 2nd is based on the Citroen and was the prototype model. The later ones are much more aerodynamic.
Harry Schell’s Cisitalia was holding the Delahaye for many laps and is a beautifully-made little car. It finished 7th, behind the 2nd Delahaye.
The two “2.3” Alfas — Lucky’s shortchassis “Mille Miglia” and Beel’s long 4-seater — behaved very differently, the long chassis being noticeably steadier. In practice Lucky was faster, Beels suffering from misfiring. Sportingly, Lucky lent him a set of good plugs for the race and Beels ran right away from him.
Freige’s Monnier-Speciale seems a very well constructed and finished car with Amilcar “insides” and Porsche suspension.
Only one E.R.A. was there — Bell’s, driven by Bolster. Very fast in practice, but out with a piston after one lap in the race.
Abecassis’ standing lap of 86.18 m.p.h. beat the previous flying-lap record. The flying lap was put up to 87.73 m.p.h. by “Bira” on his 2nd and 3rd laps.
“Bira” and Monkhouse both used the new Lodge racing plugs.