EASY FOR MERCEDES-BENZ
LANG WINS THE TRIPOLI GRAND PRIX FOR THE SECOND TIME
ALL doubts as to whether the Mercedes-Benz were superior to the Delahayes were set at rest as a result of the Tripoli Grand Prix last month. After Dreyfus’s win at Pau there were many who prophesied that the heavy fuel consumption of the German cars would prove their undoing in Grand Prix races this year, especially as they did not seem to be very much faster than the unhlown French cars.
But at Tripoli it was all MercedesBenz. In practice Lang made everyone sit up and take notice when he put in a lap at 142 m.p.h., as compared with Stuck’s fastest practice lap last year of 146 m.p.h. On the day before the race he was not quite so quick, but still the fastest, as the following figures show :Lang (Mercedes-Benz) 3 mins. 29.2 secs. : Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz) 3 mins. 32.4 secs. ; Biondetti (Alfa-Romeo) 3 mins. 83.8 secs. ; Varzi (Maserati) 3 mins. 39.1 sees.; Cornotti (Delahaye) 4 mins. 2.1 sees.; Rocco (11-litre Maserati) 4 mins. 26 secs. ; Raph (11-litre Maserati) 4 mins. 35 secs.
It will be seen that Biondetti, driving the new sixteen-cylinder Alfa Corse Alf aRomeo, was mighty near as fast as the Mercedes, while Varzi was only 7 seconds slower than Caracciola. The reason why Dreyfus does not appear in this list is that his Delahaye had developed a minor malady the day before, and he had decided to use the practice car in the race. The heat was tropical on the day of the race, but a strong cross-wind made conditions rather unpleasant for the drivers, because it blew a lot of loose sand onto the road. There was a tremendous crowd, wildly enthusiastic as ever, and all hoping for an Italian victory. Everybody was kept waiting at the start until the arrival of the great Marshal Balbo, Governor of Tripoli. This did not please the drivers too much, who were impatiently waiting to get on with the business of
the day. Eventually, twenty minutes after the scheduled starting time, the thirty competitors were sent away. The big stuff was in front, with the 1,500 c.c. racers behind, but so generously did some of the latter drivers anticipate the flag that they were well up with the big cars as the field roared off. The first few laps were extremely as one could form some idea of the relative performances of the various new Grand Prix cars before troubles beset some of them. At the end of the first lap the mercurial Von Brauchitsch was in the lead with his Mercedes-Benz, closely followed by Farina (Alfa-Romeo), and Lang (Mercedes-Benz) who had made
rather a poor start. When the cars appeared for the second time, however, Lang was in the lead, a position from which he was never to be removed.
Lang steadily forged ahead, and after ten laps he was 37 seconds in front of Trossi with the new 3-litre Maserati, which was going in a most promising fashion. Then came another Italian car, Farina’s Alfa, followed by Caracciola and Von Brauchitsch on the remaining Mercedes-Benz, Biondetti’s sixteen-cylinder Alfa, Confotti and Dreyfus on the Delahayes, and then a pack of fifteenhundred midgets.
Trossi’s effort was short-lived, for on the next lap he retired. He had the distinction, however, of making the fastest lap in the race, at roughly 137 m.p.h. With Varzi already out of it, the Maserati challenge was finished. From the twelfth lap onwards the three Mercedes-Benz occupied the first three places, with Lang right out in front. The race did not lack excitement, but it was excitement of the wrong kind. First of all that very fine driver Eugenio Siena got into a fatal slide on one of the fast curves and crashed into a retaining wall,
being killed instantly. Then, when Farina was in the act of passing Hartmann the two cars touched and skidded wildly. Immediately behind them was Caracciola, who managed to find a narrow gap between them and carry on. Farina was hurt pretty badly, but poor Laszlo Hartmann was injured to such an extent that he died the next day. The rest of the race was interesting for the fact that Comotti (Delahaye) succeeded in keeping in front of Sommer and Biondetti, both of whom were driving
Alfas. Three laps before the finish, however, the French car broke down, leaving Sommer to come home third behind the victorious Germans and first of the .Alf a Corse team. There was much speculation before the race as to how many times the Mercedes-Benz would stop for refuelling. It
turned out that Lang only stopped once, whereas the other two came in twiceso that the fuel consumption of the Mercs. must be quite satisfactory now. In the junior race, Taruffi got his Maserati ahead of a horde of similar machines, and was a worthy winner from Rocco, Lurani, Bianco, Raph and Hug. The official p/acings were as follows :
1. Lang (Mercedes-Benz), 524 Ions. in 2h. 33m. 17s., 205.107 k.p.h. 2. Von Brauebitsch (Mercedes-Benz), 2b. 37m. 5535:
Caracciola (Mereedes-Benz), 2h. 38m. 20s. Sonuner (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 40ta. 62s. Dreyfus (Delahaye), 21i. 58m. Os.
1. Tarutli (Maserati). 2h. 57m. 47s.
• ‘ . ( M:t.sf•rat i),2h. 57m. Ns.3. Liirani (Mascratil, 3m. 37s.
4. Rianco (Mas.•rati I lap behind.
5, Raph ‘z laps behind. 0. Hug (Iar ii. It laps behind.
The Deceased Drivers
Eugenio Siena began his racing career about ten years ago, but he did not come into any prominence until 1930, when he was one of the first drivers to be engaged by the Scuderia Ferarri. In 1932 he won the Belgian 24-Hour Race ; in 1933 he distinguished himself at Kesselburg hillclimb and in the Prince Piedmont Circuit; and in 1934 he was second in the Milk Miglia and fourth in the Italian Grand Prix. In the last year or two he has been seen chiefly at the wheel of 1,500 c.c. machines. In 1937 he won the Circuit of Milan, and then went out to South Africa with a Maserati, which he drove into second place at East London and fifth place at the Grosvenor race. He was a polished driver, not given to undue exuberance, and his fatal accident deprives Italy and the racing world of a likable personality.
Laszlo Hartmann was a wealthy man who raced for the love of speed. In his native Hungary he was considered national champion, but his driving was characterised more by enthusiasm than by skill. He began his racing career with various Bugattis, later changing to Maseratis. He was a cheerful figure at motor-races all over the Continent, and he will be missed by a multitude of friends and acquaintances.