THE GRAND PRIX OF CASABLANCA
IN all respects the Grand Prix of Casablanca turned out to be a first-class race. There was a splendid entry of the latest cars, a record crowd, and Perfect weather. What more could the Automobile Club Morocain desire ? As is the way abroad, and in fact anywhere a road race takes place the excitement in the town began many days before May 20th. The drivers arrived one by one, and the arrival of each was the signal for still more talk and discussion as to their chances Of success.
A gesture which caused great applause was the opening of the course by the famous airman, DieudonnC Costes and his wife, who drove round the circuit in a closed car. Then the cars were lined up in front of the stands, in the following order :-Lehoux (Alfa Romeo), Chiron (Alfa Romeo) ; Etancelin (Maserati) ; Straight and Hamilton (Ma.seratis) ; Comotti (Alfa Romeo) ; Sofietti (Alfa Romeo) and 11,1inozzi (Alfa Romeo) ; Brunet . (Bugatti) and Zanelli (Alfa Romeo) ; Mlle. Hell&Nice (Alfa Romeo) ; Biondetti (Maserati) ; Sommer (Maserati); Corsi (Maserati), and Menco (Maserati). The signal to start was given by Charles Faroux, Clerk of the Course, and the 15 cars shot away in massed formation. At the end of the first lap the Ferrari Alfa ROmeos were expected to lead, even though they were driving 2.6-litre cars and not the Type B 3-litre cars. Round they came, Chiron leading with Lehoux tucked in behind him. Etancelin was a short distance in the rear, followed by Whitney Straight, Hamilton, Comotti
(the third Ferrari driver), Zanelli, Sommer, Brunet, Minozzi, and the rest.
On the second lap Brunet came into the pits, but was away again in a moment. His twin-camshaft Bugatti was the only one of its marque in the race, and he was therefore, watched with sympathetic interest by many of the spectators.
On the third lap Lehoux pulled in to the pits to adjust his brakes, and by the time he had got going again Etancelin and Hamilton had passed by. He immediately set off in pursuit, and on the sixth lap caught Hamilton to take third place behind Etancelin, Chiron still leading the race comfortably. By the ninth circuit Lehoux had retrieved his position and the Ferrari drivers once more led the field. So far Hamilton had been making an impressive display, proving himself to be just as fast and skilful as the leading foreign’ aces.” Then he had tyre trouble, and the brief stop was sufficient to push him back to eighth place. Comotti, the new Ferrari representative, had by this time got into his stride and had crept up to fourth place behind Etancelin. Whitney Straight was driving a cool, unhurried race in fifth position. Mlle. Helle-Nice retired with the back axle of her 2.3-litre Alfa Romeo damaged, and Menco had already abandoned the race after crashing at the Marabout cornert At half-distance, then, the order of the cars was as follows :-
1. Chiron (Alfa Romeo), lh. 26m. 42s.
2. Le.houx (Alfa Romeo), lb. 27m. 25s.
3. Etancelin (Maserati), lb. 27m. 27s.
4. Comotti (Alfa Romeo), lb. 28m. 53s.
5. Straight (Maserati), 1 h. 29m. 54s.
6. Mitiozzi (Alfa Romeo), lb. 32m.
7. Sollietti (Alfa Romeo).
8. Hamilton (Maserati).
9. Biondetti (Maserati). JO. Zanelli (Alfa Romeo).
Straight clung to his third place for many laps, some 30 seconds astern of Etancelin. Behind him Lehoux had passed Comotti, and was gradually drawing nearer. Chiron was an obvious winner, so the crowd turned their attention to the struggle for second and third places. Three laps before the finish Lehoux managed to catch Straight, and this order was maintained until the finish. As for Chiron, no praise can be too high for his effortless driving, which makes little demands on the car and is therefore free from unnecessary pit stops.
1. L. Chiron (Alfa Romeo 2,650 c.c.), 2h. 55m. 42.4s., 81.10 m.p.h.
2. P. Etancelin (Maserati 3,000 c.c.), 211. 56m. 32.6s.
3. M. Lebow( (Alfa Romeo 2,650 ex.), 2h. 57m. 23.8s.
4. W. Straight (Maserati 3,000 c.c.), 58 laps.
5. Comotti (Alfa Romeo 2,650 c.c.), 58 laps.
6. Minozzi (Alfa Romeo 2,300 c.c.), 57 laps.
7. J. Zanelli (Alfa Romeo 2,300 c.c.).
8. Biondetti (Maserati 3,000 c.c.).
9. Brunet (Bugatti) 2,300 c.c.).