VARZI’S FIRST VICTORY FOR AUTO-UNION
A RUNAWAY VICTORY AT 101.19 M.P.H. WIMILLE (BUGATTI) SECOND & ETANCELIN (VIASERATI) THIRD
MAXIMUM speed counts for a lot on the permanent circuit of Carthage, where the sixth Grand Prix of Tunis was held on the 6th of last month. For this reason Achille Varzi’s Auto-Union was a strong favourite, especially as he was piloting the actual car with which Stuck captured the world’s records for so kilometres. so miles and too kilometres. The usual army of German mechanics accompanied the Auto-Union. It was hoped that Nuvolari would drive the bimotore AlfaRomeo, but satisfactory tyres could not be found in time for the race. The Ferrari leader therefore used a 3.2-litre monoposto instead.
The rest of the entry was made up as follows : Comotti and Brivio, on Ferrari Alias ; Zehender, Etancelin, and Siena, representing the Scuderia Subalpina, the first two on independently sprung Maseratis, and Siena on a 3-litre Maserati ; Wimille on a works 3.3-litre Bugatti ; Balestrero, driving a Maserati for the Gruppo San Giorgio ; and the following independents, Lehoux (Sefac), Ghersi, Martin, Barbieri, Zanelli, Sommer (AlfaRomeos), Farina, Brunet, Soffietti, Falchetto, Hartmann, Chambost, and Dusio, all on Maseratis, Mablot, Dupont, Rey, and Fkrier on Bugattis. Ghersi’s car wt„ raced by Trossi last year.
The Carthage circuit is extremely fast, and the removal of an artificial chicane in front of the grandstands met with a certain amount of criticism. It meant that the cars raced along the 3 km. 6o straight at their maximum speed-a fine sight for the spectators in the stand, who were protected by a wall 6 feet in height. The drivers’ lot was not so happy, because a strong, gusty wind blew across the road all the time, and made high speed in a 750 kilo racing car a really dangerous business. Apart from this straight, the course consists of fast curves, all of which are exposed to the prevailing wind.
There were five non-starters, Lehoux, Brivio, Martin, Dusio, and Dupont. Positions on the line were decided by practice laps, and Varzi, Nuvolari and Wimille found themselves in the front row. A Vivasport Renault went off to close the course, and promptly at 2 o’clock the starting signal was given. Varzi pulled clear of the field, with Etancelin in his wake, and the howling pack disappeared round the first curve in a haze of smoke. Only Chambost was left on the line, and his Maserati had to be pushed for some distance before it fired.
Varzi drew steadily ahead on the firgt lap, but Etancelin was passed by both Nuvolari and Wimille, that being the order when they tore past the stands. On the second lap Zehender crashed his Maserati on a corner, but was not hurt. Zanelli came into the pits. The fast circuit soon began to play havoc with the cars. Brunet (Maserati) was the first to go, apart from Zehender, while Mablot (Bugatti) and Etancelin (Maserati) were both in trouble. Then great excitement was caused by the arrival of Nuvolari at the pits, and a minute later his retirement was announced. Lubrication failure was the cause. The toll of wrecked engines went op, and before ten laps had been completed Balestrero’s Maserati was out
with ignition trouble. Ghersi’s Alfa-Romeo with a broken gear-box, Soffietti’s Maserati with a defective super-charger, and Falchetto had withdrawn his old 2.5-litre twoseater Maserati. At ten laps the order was :
1. Varzi (Auto-Union) 45m. 59.8secs. 164.359 k.p.h.
2, Wimille (Thirratti) 47rn. 8sens.
3. Etancelin (Maserati) 48m. 89eitoe.
4. Farina (Maserati) 50m. 2secs.
5. Comotti (Alfa-Romeo) 50m. 3secs.
6. Sommer (Alfa-Romeo) 50m. 6secs.
7. Barbieri (Alfa-Romeo) 52m. 2secs.
8. Chambost (Maserati) 63m. 19secs. 9. Hartmann (Maserati) 54m. 26secs. The race, as a race, was now all over
bar the shouting. Varzi could afford to ease up, thus reducing the likelihood of his carefully-prepared Auto-Union cracking up. Wimille was doing his best with the 3.3-litre Bugatti, which held the road beautifully but lacked speed on the straight.
He had a very nasty moment when the bonnet came adrift and narrowly missed his head, but he carried on. Then the cars began to come in for more fuel, and although Varzi made a magnificently quick stop, Wimille managed to pick up some valuable time. This was the order of the leading cars after 20 laps:
1. Varzi (Auto-Union) lh. 31m. 47secs.
2. Wimille (Bugatti) lb. 33m. 44secs.
3. Etaucelin (Maserati) lh. 37m. 32secs.
4. Sommer (Alfa-Romeo) lb. 39m. 14secs. 5. Comotti (Alfa-Romeo) lb. 43m. &lees. By the time he got going again Varzi was only ii secs. ahead of Wimille, and orders were immediately given by his pit control to increase speed. This he did, and Wimille’s refuelling stop, accomplished in less than a minute, put the Auto-Union
safely ahead once more. Sommer was the next retirement, with a broken con-rod, while Ryder pulled in to change a broken wheel on his Bugatti. Rey also broke a wheel, but his Bugatti received damage in the process and had to be withdrawn. Mablot (Bugatti) was the next retirement, with a broken steering rod.
A sensation was caused in the grandstands by the arrival of his Highness the Bey of Tunis, attended by numerous dignitaries of the Court. At lo laps the order was :
1. Varzi (Auto-Union) 2h. 19m. 41sece. 163.538k.p.h.
2. Wimille (Bugatti,) 2h. 22m. 18secs.
3. Etancelin (Maserati) 2b. 29m. 32secs. 4. Comotti (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 34m. Buie& 5. Farina (Maserati) 211. 34m. Nimes. Nothing could now stop Varzi from winning. Wimille was some 3 minutes astern, while Etancelin, who had lost all
his gears except top early in the race, had perforce to tour round the corners. And so the end came with the cars in that order. Interviewed after the race, this is what the leaders had to say :
Varzi ” I am very glad to have won, because this is my third victory in the G.P. of Tunis, and my first at the wheel of an Auto-Union. The race was not long, but it was difficult. Fortunately my car held the road so well that it compensated largely for the conditions. The circuit of Carthage is a magnificent one, but I should have liked it a good deal better if there had been no wind.”
Wimille: ” I could not do more-you could see that for yourself. I could not hope to compete with the German car. My Bugatti has never given me the slightest cause for anxiety, and I am very satisfied with the result. I had my share of luck, for I lost the bonnet of the car in what I call fortunate circumstances. In any other I should certainly have been injured! “
Etancel in : ” Only top gear after 15 laps! But I didn’t do so badly, did 1? Have I had any sensations ? Yes, quite a good one. I felt, more than I saw, a piece of what looked like old iron graze my face while I was travelling at full speed. It was only a shock-absorber which had broken and worked loose! Nothing to worry about! “
1. Varzi (Auto-Union) 3h. 5m. 40.2 secs. 162.869k.p.h. 2. Wimille (Bugatti) 311. 9m. 29.8secs
3. Etancelin (Maserati) two laps behind leader.
4. Comotti (Alfa-Romeo) three laps
5. Farina (MaJlergati) three laps.
6. Chambost (Maserati), five laps.
‘7. Hartmann (Niaserati) six laps.
8. Raff (Alfa-Romeo) eight laps.
Fastest lap: Varzi, on his second lap, 4m.