Italian Victory in Le Mans 24-Hour Race
Chinetti Brings Lord SeIsdon’s 2-litre Ferrari in First at Over 82. m.p.h. Delage and Frazer-Nash Second and Third. Heat Takes Heavy Toll, but Six British Cars Finish.
Before the war Le Mans was a household word in British motor-racing circles, as well it might be, with British cars winning this gruelling 24-hour sports-car race outright on six occasions. The Germans did much damage to the famous circuit during the war and only this year has the Automobile Club de l’Ouest been able to revive this classic of sports-car classics.
As soon as it was announced that the race would be held entries began to pour in, and the list closed at 52, of which 15 hailed from this country, 33 from France, one from Italy, two from Czechoslovakia, and one from Belgium. Apart from those racing to qualify for next year’s event, there were three distinct races, the Grand Prix d’Endurance, divided into the usual capacity classes and a mere matter of going as far as possible in the 24 hours between 4 p.m. on June 25th and 4 p.m. on June 26th, the Biennial Rudge-Whitworth Cup race, for which the entrant has to qualify the first year by his car finishing (in this case in the 1939 race), and then contests the car afresh the next year, and the Annual Cup race, decided on a formula based on mileage covered balanced against engine size.
In 1939, the last year until last month that the race was run, Wimille and Veyron’s 3.3-litre Type 57SC Bugatti won outright at 86.35 m.p.h., Gordini and Scaron’s F.I.A.T. taking the Biennial Cup. The lap record stood to the credit of Robert Mazaud’s 3.6-litre Delahaye, at 96.7 m.p.h. Then, because to finish in a 24-hour race is a great feat anyway, team-performances take on a very great significance at Sarthe.
The course measures 8.68 miles (14 kilometres) and skirts the town of Le Mans. From the pits and tribunes the course runs towards the right-angle at Tetre Rouge, along the main Le Mans – Tours road, curving right-handed into Mulsanne straight, past the Café de l’Hippodrome to Mulsanne corner. So drivers come to the left-handed corner at Arnage, near the aerodrome where British visitors land, and then the road twists and wriggles to the notorious White House corner and so back to the start.
As usual the races are strictly for sports cars, but this time bona fide “prototypes” were allowed to race with the catalogued models, as the organisers did not wish to hamper post-war developments. The usual regulations that so make the atmosphere of this great race were enforced. Repairs could only be carried out with the aid of spares and tools carried in the cars and then only by one assistant besides the driver. Fuel tanks were sealed and refuelling permitted only after 25 laps had elapsed since the start or a previous refuel, calling for a range of 210 miles. Proper precautions were called for to ensure that headlamps wouldn’t extinguish themselves as one motored at full lick through the short (but inky) summer night. And so on and so forth — so that the atmosphere was almost that of the great days of our Bentley triumphs.
As we have said, the entries were full of quality, not to mention variety. Britain was represented by a team of Aston-Martin aerodynamic saloons, a 2 1/2-litre six-cylinder to be driven by Charles Brackenbury and Leslie Johnson, two 2-litre four-cylinder cars in the hands of A. W. Jones and Nick Haines and “Taso” Mathieson and Pierre Marechal — all were aerodynamic saloons (see “Rumblings”). Then Peter Clark put in his team of 1 1/2-litre lightweight Monaco-bodied H.R.G.s, forsaking his former aerodynamic-enclosure theories for slim two-seater bodywork. He shared one car with Morris Goodall, the others being in the care of Jack Scott and Neville Gee and Jack Fairman and E. Thompson.
Further Aston-Martins were entered by Peter Monkhouse and Stapleton (a 1936 2-litre C-type two-seater qualified in 1939 by the late R. P. Hichens), by Dudley Folland and Anthony Heal (pre-war Le Mans car, with “Ulster” body), and by Lawrie, the last-named with a three-seater 2-litre. H. S. F. Hay nominated his regularly-used ex-Embiricos 115-in-the-hour aero-dynamic pre-war 4 1/4-litre Bentley saloon.
Jack Bartlett and N. H. Mann put in a well-tried design in the form of a 2 1/2-litre Healey saloon, George Phillips a re-bodied “TC” M.G., and, most intriguing, motor-cycle-racer N. R. Culpan entered his “High Speed” 2-litre Frazer-Nash “Competition” two-seater, of the sort with which E. J. Newton finished second in two club races at Silverstone the preceding week-end. Culpan’s co-driver was H. J. Aldington. In addition, Vemet’s 1 1/2-litre Riley and Savoye’s Singer Nine were French-entered.
Villeneuve’s and Bouchard’s and Paul Vallée’s Delahayes were two-seaters with normal mudguards. Morel had a saloon Talbot, Versini’s Delage had aero-dynamic wings like those of Gérard and Veuillet, and Vernet’s Simca was a coupé. Lawrie’s Aston-Martin was a production current-model two-seater, the Healey a saloon.
The minimum speeds required of these cars in the Rudge Cup race were: –
The full list of starters was: –
From an early hour people streamed to Le Mans, where the atmosphere is quite unique. Gay flags floated in the breeze above the roof balcony of the magnificent new concrete pits and, opposite, vast concrete stands accommodated keen and critical crowds such as only France can produce. The sun shone from a torrid sky, so that the tar became sticky on the roads and the coloured equipe vans behind the pits glinted colourfully in the strong light, while, behind, the green of the woods and fields formed a backcloth to the memorable scene. With the crowds picnicking all round the course, the loud bands, the scantily-garbed girls in the depots, and aircraft arriving at Le Mans airfield, all the ingredients of a first-class Continental motor-race were present in full measure.
Safety arrangements were excellent, with a sand-wall and fence before the tribunes and fencing and barbed-wire at the corners. The whole tribune area was well-policed and Pressmen were handsomely looked after in their lofty and extensive Press stand, where they sat at school-desks and received food boxes and wine tickets at generous intervals. Walking along the rows of competing cars we noted that Grignard’s Delahaye had a headrest and cowled-in radiator, and the names of its drivers on the scuttle, while Villeneuve (Delahaye) was one of those who co-opted Robert Bosch, to see where he was, at night. Rosier’s Talbot had double cushions as a back-rest, a small flat headrest and its spare wheel horizontal in the tail. The Ecurie France Talbot had a 16-coil cooler protruding from its scuttle, a power bulge along the off side of the bonnet and small, but quick-action, fillers. The Delage cars had 6-in. “funnels” to facilitate pouring oil into their valve-cover oil fillers. Culpan sported an R.A.F. roundel on his Frazer-Nash, which had a fabric cover over the spare wheel. Eggen’s Alvis was an all-enclosed two-seater with vast boot, and Hay’s Bentley saloon had the fuel tank behind the rear seat, a filler protruding from each panel of the rear window, a thermos clipped to the rear of the front passenger’s seat, and 6.50-19 Dunlop racing tyres on its spatted rear wheels. A mechanic was adjusting its tappets.
The Let-Aviation Aero-Minor carried the inscription “Made in Czechoslovakia,” Tocheport’s Simca-Huit was an all-enveloping two-seater, Gordini’s a more normal two-seater, Savoye’s Singer used twin S.U. carburetters, and the entire body of the Ecurie Verte Simca Six was lifted up so that the fan belt could be fitted to the front of the F.I.A.T. 500 engine. The Delettrez had a 4,246-c.c. diesel engine. During the race a 4 1/4-litre Bentley saloon patrolled the course at speed, magnificently driven and frequently passing competing cars.
A hush fell as the drivers lined up opposite their cars and Charles Faroux instructed the timekeeper to raise the tricolour. As it swept down the line of men broke and, in what seemed a moment, Chaboud’s Delahaye, a vicious two-seater with vast aerodynamic wings, swept off in the lead, followed by Paul Vallée’s Talbot, which overtook Hay’s Rolls-Bentley as it got away. Next came Rosier (Talbot), Grignard (Delahaye), Veuillet’s Delage, Johnson in the 2.-litre Aston-Martin, Chinetti’s Ferrari, Dreyfus’ Ferrari, and Leblanc’s Delahaye. Slow to move off were Villeneuve’s Delahaye and Walker’s Delahaye driven by Tony Rolt. Hémard had to ease his Monopole out to clear Flahault’s stationary Delahaye, while the Singer and Fairman’s H.R.G. were very hesitant and poor Jack Bartlett in the Healey saloon didn’t get off until the car had been rocked to unglue the starter and then pushed, some three minutes being lost thereby.
After a while the pack came winding downhill to pass the tribunes at the end of lap one, and the order was: Chaboud (Delahaye), comfortably ahead of Rosier (Talbot), then a vast gap before Vallée (Talbot), Grignard (Delahaye), Johnson (2 1/2-litre Aston-Martin), Veuillet (Delage), Dreyfus (Ferrari), Chinetti (Ferrari), Louveau (Delage), Rolt (Delahaye), Villeneuve (Delahaye), Culpan (Frazer-Nash), Hay (Bentley), Morel (Talbot), Aimé (Simca), Leblanc (Delahaye), Flahault (Delahaye), Bouchard (Delahaye), Folland (Aston-Martin), Maréchal (Aston-Martin), Bonnet (D.B.), Gerard (Delage), Monkhouse (Aston-Martin), Versini (Delage), Jones (Aston-Martin), Clark (H.R.G.), Phillips (M.G.), Trevoux (Simca), Lachaize (D.B.), Hermard (Monopole), de Montrémy (Monopole), Scott (H.R.G.), Mahé (Simca), Vernet (Simca), Tocheport (Simca), Trouis (Riley), Thompson (H.R.G.), Gillard (Simca), with, close up, Lawrie (Aston-Martin), Lecerf (Simca), Mme. Elder (Simca), the only lady, Savoye (Singer), Delettrez (Delettrez), Krattner (Aéro-Minor), Poch (Aéro-Minor), Hardy (Renault), Eggen (Alvis), Baboin (Simca Six) and Bartlett (Healey), followed.
Another lap and Dreyfus was, fourth, with Chinetti in the other Ferrari coming up to pass Vallée’s Talbot. Johnson was ninth in the 2 1/2-litre Aston, the tyres whining as he cornered beyond the pits, while Trevoux’s Simca emitted an odd snarl as he changed-up. After three laps the leaders were Chaboud, Rosier and Grignard, while Dreyfus had dropped back behind Chinetti and Vallée. Hay was the dust as his silent Bentley clipped the tribunes curve, and already Folland’s Aston-Martin was in at the pits, but not for long.
Then came a minor excitement, for Chaboud was seen to have damaged his off-side rear wing, which was tilted at a queer angle. Next it was Trevoux’s turn to visit his pit and his Gordini got away hesitantly, to stop up the road. He got away later, however. Louveau’s Delage was going well, snaking a bit, Aimé’s Simca was impressive and the two Monopoles were in formation, but with a fair space between them.
Past the pits, Hay was just about holding the Jones–Haines Aston-Martin. Then, alas, Johnson came in, the 2 1/2-litre Aston’s bonnet was raised, he conferred with the mechanics and the car was retired, for water was needed and, after Johnson had checked the matter with the commissaires, it was agreed that it was “illegal” to put more in at this stage.
Some time later Rosier had a lengthy stop, then Peter Clark passed the pits with his helmet off and the H.R.G. did not re-appear — the cooling radiator was hors de combat, the header-tank connection having pulled away.
At 5 p.m. the order was: —
1st: Chaboud (Delahaye), 10 laps, 55 min. 18.1 sec.
2nd: Flahault (Delahaye), 10 laps, 56 min. 15.4 sec.
3rd: Chinetti (Ferrari), 10 laps, 56 min. 16.3 sec.
Hay’s Bentley was going well, still making its odd tyre noise, and Mahé’s little silver Simca 1,100 aerodynamic saloon, complete with roof radio aerial, was actually faster than the Healey. At 5.27 1/2 p.m. Folland’s Aston-Martin came in for a lengthy stop, but the diesel-engined Delettrez was plodding steadily along.
At 6 p.m. the leaders were: —
1st: Chaboud (Delahaye), 22 lap, 1 hr. 59 min. 59.7 sec.
2nd: Flahault (Delahaye), 21 laps, 1 hr. 56 min. 32.2 sec.
3rd: Chinetti (Ferrari), 21 laps, 1 hr. 58 min. 34.1 set.
Both Monkhouse and Heal were soon touring round in the “Ulster” Aston-Martins in order to conserve fuel, as they had not done the required 210 miles, and so were not permitted to put more in. Lawrie’s open 1949 three-seater Aston-Martin made a brief stop to have its screen wiped, but Selsdon’s Ferrari had a rather longer call, the driver feeling the temperature of its tyres and oil, fuel, and water being added. Soon Chinetti, too, refuelled.
At 6.27 p.m. Culpan refuelled and Aldington resumed, in the “Competition” Frazer-Nash. 6.32 1/2 p.m. saw Tony Rolt commence a series of stops, a boiling radiator scattering the refuelling and sealing party. Jover, clutching a cushion, now leapt from the pit to take over from Louveau as the Delage was given the necessary fluids. Indeed, all the cars were coming in for their initial refuelling. Bouchard revved his engine before cutting the ignition, and Castrol as well as petrol was put in, while Chaboud himself put water in his Delahaye’s radiator, after overshooting his pit. Bonnet’s D.B. caught fire as it stopped, but the car was moved clear of the burning fuel and the flames were soon out. Next, Morel emerged, overalled, from the Talbot saloon, to put in fuel while his mechanic looked at the tyres. Some joy was caused about this time when the 4 1/2-litre Bentley course-car passed the Healey in fine style.
At 7 p.m. the order was: –
1st: Chaboud/Pozzi (Delahaye), 33 laps, 2 hr. 58 min. 58.3 sec. (92.76 m.p.h.).
2nd: Flahault/Simon (Delahaye), 31 laps, 2 hr. 51 min. 4.9 sec.
3rd: Chinetti (Ferrari), 31 laps, 2 hr. 59 min. 7.7 sec.
A minute later Veuillet refuelled, Hay blowing his horn as he went by, for the Delage drew out rather quickly. Chaboud was clapped as he came in, Flahault’s Delahaye going by while his Delahaye was stationary. At 7.7 p.m. Grignard’s Delahaye was refuelled, and proved a trifle reluctant to restart; Rolt was in again a moment afterwards. When Hay’s Bentley came in the rear-wheel spats seemed to make tyre-inspection rather difficult. Wisdom took over but the car was soon in again and, as Hay worked on it, he had to resume, although Wisdom thereafter shared three-hour spells with him. Vallée swerved out to avoid hitting the stationary Bentley on one occasion when he badly misjudged his braking coming into his pit. The driver of Gérard’s Delage now decided to prolong his drive, to the alarm and despondency of his depot staff.
Meanwhile the 2-litre Aston-Martin saloons continued to lap silently and impressively. An amusing incident occurred when the door of Maréchal’s car jammed and shut the driver out for a moment, after the routine refuel, during which Freeman looked with expert eye at the rear tyres.
Another impressive car was Vernet’s Simca 1,100, and the two-stroke D.K,W.-like Aero-Minors were motoring strongly. Gérard’s Delage came in at last and there was a small fire, quickly extinguished, when the oil filter was removed. The drivers were changed and water and fuel added. The excitement increased when Morel limped in with a burst off-side rear tyre on the impressive 4 1/2-litre Talbot saloon and emerged rapidly through the near-side door clasping a small screw-jack.
At 8 p.m. the order was still Delahaye, Delahaye, Ferrari.
At 8.1 p.m. Grignard’s Delage ran out of fuel just short of its pit and the driver was deservedly clapped as he pushed the car the remaining distance — French crowds are like that. Calmly he grabbed the chock to place beneath a rear wheel, before refuelling. Alas, 14 minutes were lost before petrol could be got through to the carburetters. No time was wasted when Pozzi relieved Chaboud of the leading Delahaye. The Jones/Haines Aston-Martin came in for two minutes at 8.17 1/2 p.m., “Dunlop Mac” casting his eye at the Dunlops.
Up to this point the retirements were: Johnson (Aston-Martin), after six laps; Eggen (Alvis) after six laps; Clark (H.R.G.), after 10 laps, and Folland (Aston-Martin) after 26 laps. The Monkhouse-Stapleton Aston-Martin had had weaker carburetter needles fitted to cut down its fuel consumption, which caused overheating and, after a lap sans coolant, it, too, was retired.
The situation now became dramatic, as race situations will. Chinetti lost 7 1/2 minutes at his pit, resuming just as the other Ferrari appeared in sight, and at the same time Flahault’s Delahaye commenced a series of pit-stops, the engine reluctant to restart, so that 43 1/2 minutes were lost, the symptoms suggesting slipped thning. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Pozzi in the leading Delahaye caught fire at Mulsanne, and it must have been half-an-hour before, amid a feverish ovation, coaxed his stricken car to the pits, in the dusk sans lights! Then Dreyfus came in to refuel, overshot his depot, jumped out, and nimbly rolled his car back.
At 9 p.m. the position was: —
1st: Dreyfus (Ferrari), 52 laps, 4 hr. 50 min. 27.3 sec. (87.4 m.p.h.)
2nd: Flahault/Simon (Delahaye), 51 laps, 4 hr. 45 min. 49.0 sec.
3rd: Chinetti (Ferrari), 51 laps, 4 hr. 59 min. 22.3 sec.
The Healey had another brief stop about this time, the Chaboud/Pozzi Delahaye got going again after 11 minutes, but (tame in a lap later with the bonnet open on the off side, and went off again, only to disappear for an appreciable time “out in the country.” The Flahault Delahaye was also in dire trouble, and then the loudspeakers — which were in efficient action almost without cessation throughout the 24 hours — told us that Dreyfus had overturned, without injury, at White House Corner — it was just getting dark and this may have resulted in a misjudgment as he went to overtake a larger car. The whole aspect of the race naturally changed, Paul Vallée’s Talbot now leading Veuillet’s Delage, with Selsdon’s Ferrari, Chinetti driving, pressing them hard. At 10 p.m. it was: —
1st: Vallée/Mairesse (Talbot), 61 laps, 5 hr. 50 min. 10.2 sec. (84.13 m.p.h.).
2nd: Selsdon (Ferrari), 61 laps, 5 hr. 50 min. 2.5.7 sec.
3rd: Veuillet/Mouche (Delage), 60 laps, 5 hr. 56 mm. 57.5 sec.
Another hour elapsed and Chinetti led by 1 min. 54.9 sec. (at 83.9 m.p.h.), from Vallée’s Talbot, both having covered 70 laps, while the Delage was third, 3 min. 43.9 sec. behind the Talbot. Midnight saw this position maintained, the Ferrari now leading by 2 min. 23.9 sec., and Louveau’s Deiage and Culpan’s Frazer-Nash pressing the Veuillet pelage for third place.
At this time the class positions were:
Up to 750 c.c.:
1st: Aéro-Minor (Krattner/Sutnar).
2nd: Simca (Baboin/Gay).
751 to 1,100 c.c.:
1st: Simca (V. Elder/Camérano).
2nd: Monopole (Haimard/Liénard).
3rd: Simca (Vernet/Batault).
1,101 to 1,500 c.c.:
1st: Deutsch-Bonnet (Bonnet/Deusch).
2nd: H.R.G. (Thompson/Fairman).
1,501 to 2,000 c.c.:
1st: Ferrari (Chinetti/Selsdon).
2nd: Frazer-Nash (Culpan/Aldington).
3rd: Aston-Martin (Maréchal/Mathieson).
2,001 to 3,000 c.c.:
1st: Delage (Louveau/Jover).
2nd: Delage (Gérard/Godia Fales).
3,001 to 5,000 c.c.:
1st: Talbot (Morel/Chambas).
2nd: Delahaye (Flahault/Simon).
3rd: Delahaye (Bouchard/Larrue).
Between 1 and 1.30 a.m., however, the Veuillet Delage, which had passed the Talbot, had a very prolonged stop, with something amiss in the transmission, while the Talbot itself was retired, so that the Louveau Delage became second and the Frazer-Nash third. The Scott/Gee H.R.G. was limping round, terribly sick — the mixture had weakened, Gee had pushed in from White House, the burnt block was patched, but one more lap was all the car would do.
The grim hour of 2 a.m. saw the Ferrari a lap ahead (the average now 85.3 m.p.h.) of Louveau’s Delage, with the Culpan Frazer-Nash a creditable third and Gérard’s Delage fourth, ahead of the Bolt/Jason Henry Delahave, which, alas, retired about 3.30 a.m. A further bother In this pit was the arrival of a fierce flying insect, killed eventually by a deft mechanic.
The night section was notable for the great variety of lamps in use. Gérard’s Delage had two yellow spotlamps and two headlamps, the Aston-Martins four Lucas lamps in a row, but Bolt was content with two tiny sidelamps to back his two headlamps; the Leblanc Delahaye had triple lamps, as had Lachaize’s D.B., while Trouis’ Riley had but one yellow headlamp, likewise Pozzi’s Delahaye.
By 3 p.m. Gérard’s Delage was second to Louveau’s, having caught the Frazer-Nash, while Selsdon still led. Louveau was being regularly signalled by a torch shining on a number board.
At 4 a.m. the Ferrari had three laps lead and the Maréchal/Mathieson Aston-Martin was fifth, three laps behind the Frazer-Nash. A “to let” sign had now appeared before Rolt’s pit, where they had packed up and gone.
The crowd on the balcony clapped — at 4.26 a.m., mark you! — as Selsdon took over the leading Ferrari from Chinetti, who had driven the car continuously up , to this point. The engine fired after the starter had spun for what seemed an age, The Bouchard Delahaye resumed its repeated pit-calls, but loud claps greeted the refuelling of the Flahault/Simon Delahaye, now fully recovered, but back to 11th place. Grignard’s Delahaye was reluctant to restart and more than one man appeared to be working on it.
At 5.03 a.m. the Jones/Haines Aston-Martin came in, the starter stuck, and the stop eventually occupied over an hour of precious time. Louveau quickly refuelled at 5.29 a.m., Hay rather later. It is largely these frequent refuelling pauses that render the Le Mans pits so busy. Selsdon halted for about a minute at 5.38 1/2 a.m. for the aero-screen to be cleaned and the shock-absorbers to be taken up and Chinetti resumed. At 5 a.m. the Ferrari was two laps ahead, having averaged 83.5 m.p.h., but the Flahault/Simon Delahaye was now lapping very rapidly indeed, whereas the Ferrari had eased up.
The position at 6 a.m. was: —
1st: Selsdon/Chinetti (Ferrari), 139 laps, 83.4 m.p.h.
2nd: Louveau/Jover (Delage), 137 laps.
3rd: Gérard/Godia-Fales (Delage), 137 laps.
The Gérard Delage came in for fuel, shock-absorber adjustment and change of driver, at 7.30 a.m., but was away in 2 1/2 minutes. Chaboud was a visitor shortly afterwards, the spectators again clapping a very gallant drive following early adversity; the radiator tended to steam as he motored off. Next, much smoke when Bouchard’s Delahaye came in with its near-side rear brake on fire. At 7 a.m. the Ferrari had done 149 laps to Louveau’s 148, Gerard was also on his 148th, the Frazer-Nash on its 144th, but the unlucky Chaboud Delahaye had done only 140. With the return of daylight the race average had leapt up to nearly 90 m.p.h.
Gérard’s Delage came in very hot, but when the radiator cap was cautiously opened no steam came forth — ominous? Three-and-a-half minutes later the car went on, suffering from chronic blow-by, smoke pouring from the bonnet. Then the Veuillet Delage refuelled, and it was soon in again. The carburetters caught fire, the extinguisher was empty, as the mechanic proved by hurling it into the pit, and the flames grew quite serious before a proper extinguisher was put into action. The driver stayed in his seat — but got out when it was evident the car would be long delayed.
So the race went on, with routine pit-stops and some having no semblance of routine. The slower cars that had not done their qualifying distance were flagged-off, Phillips’ M.G. receiving the black flag. Momentarily, a larger car was baulked by Mahé’s amazing little saloon Simca, but the latter drew away from its rival round the curve beyond the pits, and the Ferrari swerved and skidded in avoiding Morel’s Talbot saloon as it drew out of the pit. The unhappy Flahault/Simon Delahaye, which had received such a brisk reception from the crowd, was pushed to the dead car park at 10.44 a.m.
Came drama! Louveau brought the Delage in in dire trouble, but went on. Shortly afterwards Chinetti was stationary at his pit, with Louveau in again. On his first stop the plugs had been replaced, water added, and the rear wheels changed, so we knew, now, that something more serious was amiss. The work was good, calm, but half-an-hour was lost while extensive work was done on the engine, concluding with more new plugs — as with Gérard’s Delage, too much oil seemed to be getting “upstairs.” The Ferrari left first, but it, too, lost much time, work apparently being done on the front of the chassis, necessitating attempted removal of a headlamp. Meanwhile, the Frazer-Nash motored nearer to victory, sounding beautifully B.M.W. It certainly wasn’t Delage’s day, for soon after those intense moments involving Louveau and Chinetti, Veuillet had a short stop — for a moment no one saw him come in, in the concentration on Louveau’s car — which produced much Gallic shouting!
Chinetti now began to make occasional stops at his pit, presumably because he had such an excellent lead. Louveau remained second, in spite of another stop, but the Frazer-Nash, apart from slowing for a while due to a fuel vapour-lock, was going well, needing no water, although for much of the time Aldington drove, because the clutch refused to free, so that clutchless gear-changes were essential. Even this trouble finally rectified itself, and this new British car remained a splendid third.
Alas, just as we hoped to see Maréchal press for this third place, it was reported at 1.05 p.m. that the Aston-Martin saloon had overturned at White House Corner, Pierre being seriously hurt. His brakes had, it seems, been absent for many laps. Claps greeted another pit-departure, on the part of the Delage, but the leader’s position held without change — Ferrari, Delage, Fraser-Nash Hot cars came in and were reluctant to re-start, but still the order held. Grignard’s Delahaye, in particular, consumed vast quantities of both time and amps., oil as well as smoke began to appear from Gérard’s Delage, and Veuillet’s Delage stopped frequently, while Bouchard had clouted a hazard with the off-side front of his car. Yet bravely the men struggled to keep the cars going, and the onlookers — now 200,000 strong — showed knowledgeable approval, as they pressed closer to the rails in anticipation of the arrival of the President of the Republic. He came in a fine Renault excorted by many transverse-twin motor-bicycles and a f.w.d. Citroen, to honour the first post-war Le Mans.
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, this great sports-car race ended, Chinetti victor for Italy in Lord Selsdon’s 2-litre V12 Ferrari. The Louveau Delage was second, in spite of many setbacks, while Aldington and Culpan very creditably brought the “High Speed” Frazer-Nash “Competition” two-seater home third. The Talbot saloon made up lost time and finished fourth, frantically waved down on its last laps and missing from the parade d’honnear, and Gérard’s Delage struggled into fifth position. The Thompson/Fairman H.R.G. won the 1 1/2-litre class for Britain.
The full results are: —
G.P. d’Endurance Class Results
Biennial Cup Race (Handicap)
Annual Cup Race (Handicap)