THE RALLY REVIEWED
By G. T. MOORE
THE success of British cars in the 13th Monte Carlo Rally was a pleasing contrast to the situation in 1933, when the Gardner Bentley, driven by Lord de Clifford, was the only English vehicle to finish in the first twelve. Helped this year by a. period of fine weather 15 of the Athens contingent got through on schedule, and numbered amongst these were Healey on a Triumph, Ribeiro-Ferreira on a Railton-Terraplane, Whalley’s V-8 Ford, Rupert Riley’s Riley and the second Triumph driven by Ridley. With an engine capacity of only 1,232 c.c. Healey’s car took third place in the General Classification and first in the Under i i litre Class, while each of the seven Triumph cars entered, finished the Rally.
Full credit must at the same time be given to Gas and Trevoux on their 3 litre Hotchlrias, who won the Rally by a superiority both of acceleration and braking, and to Chauvierre and Lanciano on the V-8 Chenard-Walcker, who were second. To regain the premier award for Great Britain a large sports car with a high power-weight ratio and specially prepared for the job, will be needed, and one hopes that next year at least one such car will be sent to the Athens starting point, to add to the success already achieved in the small category. As it was, the Railton would have finished higher than fourth had the brakes not been applied prematurely in the final test.
Weather conditions were milder throughout Europe than are usually experienced at the end of January, and a further last-minute warm period turned frozen slush to mud in many places. A “pet year” the veterans said, and one not likely to be repeated in a hurry.
The first part of the Athens route has already been described, but may be summarised as consisting of very rough roads across plains alternating with mountain ranges. Judging by the amount of road metal in readiness a substantial improvement will be effected by next year. Two English entries, the Essex driven by Symons and the Lagonda driven by Lord de Clifford fell out before leaving Greece. Back-axle trouble doubtless brought on by the accident on the journey out acc.ounted for the Essex, while the shock absorber brackets broke on the other car, allowing the front to swoop up and down, bringing the crankcase within range of a projecting rock on the pass after Salonica. An Austin and a Delahaye and the Kegrease tractor also fell out, but the rest of the competitors reached Sofia safely. The roads from Salonica to Sofia did not present much difficulty, but the Dragoman Pass leading into Jugo-Slavia had received a fresh fall of snow. Ribeiro was leading a group of competitors when a half-shaft in the rear axle broke. Healey in the Triumph circled round him on the unbeaten snow, but the Chenard-Walcker in trying to do the same stuck fast for some time As a variation on the wolf story, Chauvierre claimed that his car was chased by a bull, which had been excited by the red Rally number plates. His whole progress through the Rally was rather unorthodox, for competitors constantly saw him proceeding at great speed in a direction opposite to that of the controls, The Jugo-Slavian Customs authorities were very officious, and examined minutely everything in the car, but 10he Motor Club in Belgrade had prepared a fine
and supplies soon ran out at the cafes near the Control, but with only ISO miles to go these annoyances hardly counted. The route over the Estorels was for once clear from mist or snow, and the travellers arrived at Monte Carlo tired but rejoicing in the bright sunshine. The difficulties of the Bucharest route fully justified its high marking. Several of the competitors found their way to the starting point completely blocked by snow and altered their ” depart” to Lwow or Warsaw, but there was a sudden thaw a few days before which allowed late-comers to reach the Roumanian capital without
welcome, including even the town band. The cars were then ferried across the Save and up the Danube for three miles to Semun, which caused some delay. The rest of the route through Jugo-Slavia passed along roads covered with four inches of thawed mud, and was driving a heart-breaking performance almost as far as the Hungarian frontier.
Fast roads almost free from snow were experienced in Hungary and Austria, but there were heavy drifts round Salzburg, where the competitors entered Germany. Ridley lost three marks through being late at Munich, but otherwise the fifteen cars which had left Sofia retained their full scores.
The Nazis were mustered in full force to guide the cars through Munich and Stuttgart, and in the latter place were led by a special route to visit the Mercedes factory, where each crew were given a present of cigarettes, fruit, a bottle of brandy and a Mercedes tie pin. Strassbourg and Avignon were gained without trouble, though Whalley had an anxious minute when a wire shorted and the floor-boards took fire. At Avignon of course all the Rally routes converged,
much trouble. A fresh fall of snow restored the difficult conditions, and Berlesco on the Ford had to make full use of his caterpillar tracks and his front wheel skis. Madame Hustinx, who won the Ladies’ Cup, and De Cortanze, both driving Peugeots, got through with much spade work, while Brown on a Riley was eliminated with a skid which damaged his back axle. Stott on an Alvis got through from Warsaw. Umea and Stavanger this year carried an equal number of marks. Five English cars started from Tallinn, Sangster on a Riley, Beck on a Triumph, Van Marken on a 105 Talbot, Miss Labouchere on a Singer and Miss Riddell on an A.C. Beck who was accompanied by Tanner, the popular Competition manager of Pratts, had quite an adventure getting to the Start. Deciding to travel by sea, at Copenhagen they found that the only ship they could get was bound for Helinski, the capital of Finland. Reaching there after a stormy passage, they found that the service across the Gulf of Finland had been suspended, and the only way of getting to Tallinn was to drive 600 miles overland through Russia, which did not
sound inviting. Finally they managed to charter a salvage steamer and after ploughing their way through 40 miles of ice floes gained the shores of Estonia. The usual frozen ruts prevailed as far as Pemau, where a thaw had set in. For the rest of the first stage, as far as Riga, passing was impossible because of the mud thrown up by the wheels of the cars in front. Some snow and fog was then experienced, and one of the remarkable things was the way in which the little 590 c.c. D.K.W. with its front wheel
Nash. Mrs. Stanton had some spectacular skids on the Riley, and icy conditions prevailed throughout Sweden. K. W. Hole who had had a perfect run on a 4 litre Singer had a ” black-out ” near Brussels and drove straight on at a right-angle corner. The damage could easily have been repaired, but the repairers towed the car, which was thus disqualified. Jack Hobbs on his Triumph collided with another car, which pulled right across his path near Paris, knocking the front axle back nine inches on one
drive was able to maintain full speed under all conditions. The Uraea road was treacherous after a thaw and renewed freezing. Norman Black ditched his Terraplane near the start, and Sebag-Montefiore left the road and charged into the woods on his Fraser
side, but with the greatest difficulty he carried on and finished without loss of marks.
Barnes on a Singer, and Kehoe on a Triumph were the only English competitors from Stavanger. The latter found himself without a passenger, but was able to secure a sporting Norwegian at the last minute. Snow followed by mud near Oslo providing the difficulties, and Per Bergan turned over his Austin but arrived at Oslo on time.
Starters from John o’Groats had a trouble free run in perfect weather, after a run North which did not seem too promising. Driskell on the V-8 Ford which he drove in last year’s Rally ditched the car on the way to the start, but was compensated for his discomfort by winning the Thistle Cup for the best performance from a British starting point.
Le Mans welcomed the drivers with its accustomed hospitality, and the run down to Bayonne was fast and free from trouble. Porter on the Andre V-6 crashed near Toulouse, but he and his passenger escaped with a damaged leg and concussion.
The final test.
An acceleration and braking test was again used to decide the final order from each starting point. A stretch 110 metres
in length was marked out on the Quai Albert along the top of the harbour, with electric timing apparatus at each end, and a third timing point was installed 10 metres from the finish, to penalise those who applied their brakes before the finishing line.
Fourteen competitors had got through from Athens without loss of marks, so it was certain that the winners would come from there. After the road conditions that had been encountered, however, one hardly expected an Athens car to bear off the highest marks in the test, and Trevoux’s win on the Hotchkiss is therefore doubly creditable. Lahaye on a Renault who started from Stavanger was second, and Vasselle, winner of two Rallies, who again started from Tallinn was third after two attempts.
The first British competitor was Healey (9th) on the Triumph and then Driskell (Ford), Miss Harker (Sunbeam) 16th, Miss Labouchere (Singer) 18th, Joyce, Whalley and Beck on Talbot, Ford and Triumph 20th, 21st and 22nd respectively. De Ribeiro Ferreira on the Railton Terraplane was third in acceleration and braking, but lost heavily by braking prematurely. His car was 12th in order of merit.
Monte Carlo Cup. Though sporting drivers regretted the
Though sporting passing of the Mont des Mules Hill Climb, the new competition which took its place fulfilled adequately its intention of testing the skill of the driver and the condition and handiness of the car. Furthermore, the organisation was excellent, and the 107 cars were dealt with by 2.30 p.m. Each driver had to stand by his car, and when the flag dropped, to jump in and start it up. A figure of 8 then had to be negotiated, followed by a 250 metre dash to a mark post, which had to be rounded, with an obligatory use of re
verse gear. A 400 metre run led to the finishing line, which again had to be crossed using reverse gear.
Proceedings opened with Cornelius taking the figure of 8 with his D.K.W. healed over at 45 degrees. Rupert Riley and Griffiths were good on their car, Minshall very fast on the Singer, but swung right round over the finishing line, then a fine display by Turek on the twostroke Aero, which he had driven from Athens, who made fastest time in the 1,100 c.c. class. Mme. RonanIt enlivened proceedings by running over the mark flag and hitting the barrier, Barnes on his resplendent Singer made a good run, as did Sangster and Richardson (Rileys). Cortanze was
Van der Heyden with his two-Javanese friends came next on a standard Studebaker which they bought on the way to Athens to replace the one which they crashed.
The Railton Terraplanes were considered likely to do well, but S. C. H. Davis missed a gear in the figure of 8 while Ribeiro Ferreira stalled his engine crossing the finishing line. Commandant 13erlesco, the Roumanian driver, with an unmistakeably swift run, raised the record time to 1 min. 91/5 sec. and fully deserved his success of winning the Monte Carlo Cup. Proceedings were soon afterwards brought to a conclusion by the run of the Citroen motorbus which had come on the Rally from Warsaw, and
fast round the “8,” Beck’s Triumph showed fine brakes, while Healey on the large tyred model seemed neat rather than fast, but to everyone’s surprise had reduced the record time by 3 seconds Ridley on the other Athens car was rather flustered trying to get away in reverse, and also stalled his engine at the end of the straight.
Gardner drove his supercharged Lagonda well to win the 2 litre class, and Vial on a four-cylinder Hotchkiss beat Dobell (Alvis) very comfortably in the three litre class.
There were 44 cars in the final group and of these 23 were V-8 Fords. Vasselle as No. 1 began proceedings on his Hotchkiss and drove fiercely, turning right round as he applied his brakes at the finish. Wieleman on a Ford behaved in the same way, while Trevoux was steady and efficient, and beat Henley’s figure by 4/5 second. Van der Meulen’s Ford which came next effected a further improvement, though it rolled in the most disturbing way. The battle of Fords went on for some time, amid screams from brakes and a smell of hot rubber, while Johanessen on a Chevrolet surpassed everyone with his skidding when approaching the reversing obstacle. J. H. Whalley did well to achieve 4th place.
which got round the obstacles in a very creditable way though not without a little damage to a lamp post at one end.
Concours de Contort. This competition was dominated both
from the point of equipment and appearance by the” 95″ Talbot saloon entered, by C. J. Joyce, which was awarded the Grand Prix d’Honneur. The lighting equipment, apart from the usual large head and fog lamps included a special lamp carried three feet off in front of the car on a detachable arm. The lamp could also be mounted on its legs alongside the car for inspection purposes. A small lamp
used -I for lighting the plated radiator shutters was found to belp fog penetration, while a duplicate set of batteries ensured freedom from trouble under all conditions. A spare coil and electric petrol pump completed the duplicate apparatus.
A supply of warm air was carried to the back and front of the car with a branch for warming the windscreen, and detachable screens in case the main one had to be opened in foggy weather. A footrest for the driver was used to store the spare bulb case while hollow arm-rests and lockers provided accommodation for small spares, maps and first aid outfits. The two spare wheels were carried alongside the bonnet, while two suitcases were fitted in the tail. A flap which could be let down acted as a luggage grid.
Cmt. Berlesco’s Ford was awarded second prize in the large car class. His car was fitted with skis and an auxiliary axle on to which drums could be fitted. By fitting cleated bands over the road wheels and the drums a caterpillar drive was obtained.
The most luxurious vehicle was probably the Chrysler with a real bed, in which a blond maiden reclined.
F. S. Barnes won the under 1,500 c.c. closed class with his very smart Singer on which even the shovel was plated. His car was well-provided with fog piercing apparatus, and the electrically heated windscreen wiper blades should have proved useful. Many of the cars used electrically heated screens, but Ridley’s had an interior exhaust heater from which a pipe was carried along the bottom of the windscreen, to discharge on the near side of the car,
British success was maintained in the Open Car Class which was won by S. H. Light’s S.S.I., a sleek and well-kept car painted black. Major Douglas-Morris repeated his last year’s success with a Tick-ford-bodied 1i litre Invicta, while Minshall on a 972 c.c. Le Mans Singer was second.
Presentation of Prizes at Monaco.
The Defil6 or procession of cars round Monte Carlo was revived this year, and after assembling on the sea front the cars proceeded down past the Casino and through the lower town and then climbed the hill of Monaco where they were drawn up according to the general classification before the Palace of Monaco. The Monogasque National Anthem was played by a military band of some size and then the drivers in their Hotchkiss in turn headed by the Hotchkiss of
Gas and Trevoux made their way to the tribune to receive their prizes. The crowds cheered, flags waved and altogether it was a very satisfactory ending to the three weeks of effort which culminated at Monte Carlo.
Donald Healey must have been specially pleased, for apart from the five awards won this year, he secured the famous Objet d’Art with pointing finger inscribed ” Vers le But,” for finishing for the third year within the first three.
Ribeiro-Ferreiro who was fourth was distinguished for being the only delegate of an Automobile Club taking an active part in the Rally. The official programme of the week ended with the dinner given by the Sport
The tariffs on the Continent make it unlikely that many orders for expensive cars would be secured in Europe, but the Rally is gaining prominence all over the world. The experience derived would be of the greatest value in building cars for the Empire, in parts of which the roads for many years yet will remain on a par with those of the Balkans. It would obviously be a mistake to build sports cars intended for use in-England with fittings sufficiently heavy to withstand the pounding of the Greek roads, though one hears complaints even from those who go off the beaten track in Britain. English people overseas are notoriously keen sportsmen, and a ” Colonial Sports Model” would have a
mg Club in their magnificent dining room, with suitable speeches acknowledging help that had been given and promising support for future Rallies. The British Competitors’ Club also had a dinner earlier in the week, while the importance of British support can be guaged by the fact that nearly 40% of the whole entry came from Great Britain.
The amount of credit which the Hotchkiss cars received for their fine performr ance this year makes one hope that some British manufacturer of large cars will think it worth while making a strenuous attempt in 1935 to bear off the first prize.
good sale in those countries which are not yet suitable for the low-built English type car. Big tyres were widely used this year on the Athens route, and were found to give a large degree of insulation from road shocks and good adhesion without making the cars difficult to handle. The 9 inch ones used by Healey were run at about 15 lbs,, while Rupert Riley used some of 7 inch section. On heavy and high cars with spongy springing, however, they were riot so successful, and drivers often had to blow them up to 30 lbs. to get stability, so they seem parculiarly suited to the English vehicle. Some drivers found that the large section tyres nipped
the tubes at the rims, but no trouble of this sort was experienced by those who used Dunlop covers, while the square pattern tread proved very successful in mud. Most of the Peugeots used the nobbly competition pattern, while others made use of saw cuts across the tread of the ordinary type, which is claimed to be particularly good against skidding.
Independent front wheel springing also proved its worth and one would like to see it make its debut on some of the British small cars.
Standard mudguards proved inadequate over large stretches of mud and many of the Athens competitors followed the example of Rupert Riley and fitted canvas flaps, which extended down in front almost to hub level. Mudguard stays often proved inadequate to deal with the heavy structures which are fitted to cars today, while makeshifts such as woodscrews used for holding back wings perished in a very short time.
Ease of jacking is being fairly well studied, and if four wheel jacks can be fitted in positions where they are not liable to be swept off, form a great asset. A thing in which British cars are apt to fall short is the braking linkage, which is often placed in such a position as to be the first thing struck when passing over bad ground. A simple mechanical braking system with big drums seems to stand conditions well, and the Lockheed system scores with its enclosed operating parts, but servo-systems do not take kindly to the water and grit which is almost bound to get into the drums.
An undershield is essential for driving abroad, for it protects the crankcase from contact with stones and prevents water from being thrown over the electric installation. Radiator shutters must be robustly constructed while spring clips, front axles and shock-absorbers brackets have to withstand shocks quite unknown in our well paved England.
It would not be surprising to see next year a strong contingent of British cars starting from Athens, but even allowing for the road improvements likely to be made in Greece, a great many will fall by the wayside if they are not properly prepared. To get an idea of the conditions, a car should be driven for 24 hours over the worse unadopted suburban road which can be found, the famous army testing track across Salisbury Plain or some of the by-roads of Scotland or Wales. If our manufacturers care to submit their cars to a thorough test on those lines during 1934 they will be able to evolve machines capable of beating the Continental constructors at their own game.