Louis Coatalen produced four cars for the 1922 Tourist Trophy, economically modifying Sunbeam’s existing 1921 three-litre machines by adding 30 gallon bolster tanks. For what would be the last race under the current regulations which provided for cars of such capacity, the straight-eight engines produced 112bhp at 4700rpm.
Henry O’Neil de Hane Segrave, yet to be elevated to superstar status by his victory for the marque and for Britain in the 1923 French GP or his subsequent land and water speed record successes, was assigned car number four, 1914 TT victor Kenelm Lee Guinness number one and Jean Chassagne number seven.
Sunbeam was fastest in practice thanks to Segrave’s efforts, in a field that included entries from Bentley and Vauxhall, with a time of 35m 30s. Guinness’ car ran its bearings, though, and after the spare car’s engine was fitted, he was unable to take the start due to incurable clutch slip.
Segrave and riding mechanic Paul Dutoit moved swiftly into the lead on the first lap, and Chassagne and Paul Laly equally quickly backed them in second. When Segrave’s car developed a puncture on lap four, Chassagne moved into a lead he would not surrender. A lap later one of Segrave’s magnetos developed a fault in its contact breakers which effectively put it on to only four cylinders, and 60bhp proved insufficient to propel the Sunbeam up the steep hill to Bungalow, forcing him into frustrated retirement.
Chassagne and Laly sped on to win in 5hrs 24m 50s and an average speed of 55.78mph, 4m 9s clear of Frank Clement’s Bentley. For Segrave there was only the consolation of fastest lap, for the attack in the opening stages which had characteristically stamped his initial authority on the event. D J T