MONTE CARLO RALLY REFLECTIONS
T. G. MOORE.
The Road Section.
AS all the world knows, the weather conditions prevailing during the passage of competitors from all the European starting points en route for Monte Carlo this year constituted a really severe test, making the Rally what it should be, an intensive prooving-ground for the cars and their personnel. Of the four stalwarts who started from Athens, Rupert Riley came to grief on the icy road when descending from the first of the many mountain passes between the capital city and the north of Greece, while an ancient Bean driven by some Army officers, and on which they had worked all the previous year overturned some distance further On. Wisdom on the Chrysler and Thorne on a V8 Ford both reached Sofia, encountering heavy snowdrifts on the way, but were prevented by weather conditions further on from checking in at Belgrade.
Heavy snow near Lwow, in Poland, again proved the downfall of the Bucharest starters, while conditions in Italy proved unexpectedly severe. Bad roads and thick fogs in the southern pait of Italy compelled the competitors from Sicily to take the coast road, which is said to include 5,000 bends in the section from the south to Naples, while Rome was in the grips of a freak spell of cold weather, and even the famous fountains were frozen. There was ten feet of snow on the Futa and Radicofani Passes, and three RNA or more on the lower passes of the Appenines round Terni. Luckily the driver of one
of the cars had an improvised snow-plough and led by him the survivors of the 28 starters, amongst whom was Pelham-Burn on a Riley M.P.H., reached the east coast of Italy, and made their way up to Padua and the jugo-Slavian frontier. The section between there and Ljubljana, which skirts the Dolomites, presented less difficulties than was expected, though there was much ice on the Brenner pass, and the most unpleasant incident of that part of the trip was a terrific .gale, which drove dust and stones with such force that in one case it broke a car headlamp. Only 18 finishers reached Monte Carlo without penalty, with Pelharn-13nrn amongst them.
Being readily accessible by sea, and carrying with it the full complement of marks, Stavanger this year assumed a new importance, and three out of the first five cars, Lahaye on the winning Renault, Madame Schell on the Delahaye and Whalley on his Ford, chose it as their starting point. The roads between Stavanger and Oslo, though considerably improved are still narrow and winding, while the run down from Oslo to Helsingborg, where conditions might have been expected to be easier, was rendered treacherou sby ice and snow. Whalley, who has competed in seven rallies, reported conditions worse than he had ever
encountered and he left the road three times in this latter section, While Norman Black was not seen again after Oslo. Cathcart-jones, who was making his first acquaintance with the Rally and was driving a Lagonda Rapide remarked on reaching Monte Carlo that though he had had a no-trouble run he would rather fly half-a-dozen times over the EnglandAustralia air route than make the single journey from the Norwegian starting point. When assisting another competitor out of the ditch, incidentally, an impatient foreign woman driver charged hard into the back of his car in her efforts to get past, luckily without inflicting serious damage to the Rapide.
The conditions of the Umea route were dealt within detail in last month’s issue, but a technical point worth mentioning is the success under conditions of extreme, cold of the five supercharged cars which started from the north of Sweden. Trevoux’s Alfa-Romeo and Healey’s Dolomite Triumph both had Roots-type superchargers mounted alongside the engine, likewise Carriere’s Peugeot, so that the induction pipes would remain comparatively warm, but Symons’ supercharged N type Magnette ran equally happily though the blower, a Roots-type Marshall blower was mounted between the front dumb-irons. The centrifugal blower on the Graham gave no trouble either and the car ran on any type of
fuel, and at normal touring speeds with a slightly better fuel consumption than that of the unsupercharged models. Ridley’s Triumph was fitted with a Centric blower chain-driven off the front end of the crank-shaft, ,but as this was only coupled up for use in the final test, one cannot draw any conclusions about its use for normal road-work.
Weather conditions in Scotland and England gave no cause for complaint, and the only incidents which enlivened the run down through France were the spirited duels between Stott on the 31-litre Bentley and Pascoe on the 31-titre Talbot.
The Final Tests.
The difficulties of the early parts of the more highly marked routes are manifest, while the imposition of a 31 m.p.h. average between Paris and Monte Carlo and the shifting of the penultimate control allows little time for break-down or mishap during the last part of the run. Nevertheless the majority of cars entered in the Rally have shown themselves capable of getting through without loss of marks, so the organisers have no
alternative but to impose final tests. The easy-starting test is one to which no objection can be raised, though this year there was much talk Of tampering with the cars as they lay in the closed part over night. The type of custodian employed did not look impervious to a 100 franc note, while battery switches do not switch themselves off without human assistance.
The Figure of Eight test calls for manoeuvres rarely required of a fast tourer and the actual ” wiggle-woggle,” would seem to favour the small cars, so all credit to Monsieur Lahaye, who took his well-prepared 5-litre Renault through the bends with a nice mixture of caution and dash. Ridley’s performance on the Gloria Triumph was equally creditable, the addition of the supercharger to his small engine giving just that extra kick which enabled him to surpass the performance of the larger engined machines.
One of the most surprising runs, so smooth that one did not realise how fast it was, was that of Miss Astbury on a 11-litre Singer. She was 5th in the Final test, .2 seconds better than Whalley on the V8 Ford, and if she had started from one of the higher marked Continental points instead of John o’ Groats, this would have been her final position, Minshall who was 15th and Barnes who was 18th were the only other British drivers in the first 20.
The Concours de Contort.
The Day of Rest worked miracles both to the drivers and their cars, and no one would have recognised in the crowd of cheerful men and women and (mostly) spotless cars, the weary collection of travellers who had entered the Principality three days before. The Concours was held as usual on the terraces of the Casino, with the closed cars immediately outside and the open ones on the lower terrace. The saloon cars, with few exceptions, were uninteresting in outward appearance, being mostly of the American pressed-steel pattern, in which line is subordinated to utility. Most of the cars had electricallyheated screens or air blowers, and there was a fair display of snow shovels, chains
THE FINAL ORDER.
and knobbly tyres. As regards the” comfort” aspect, apart from front seats which let down to form beds, most of the competitors were content to rely on such repose as could be gained lying on cushions and rugs in the back seat. Fog-lights, many of them of the hooded pattern, were of course found on most of the cars. The only cars really equipped to contest the Comfort Competition were Pascoe’s 31-litre Talbot and Light’s S.S., and in spite of little opposition both these cars well deserved their awards. The Talbot carried a four-light two-door open-air saloon body designed by Messrs. Pass and Joyce, and built by Young’s of Bromley. Under the bonnet there was an engine heater, spare coil, spare battery, running tools, and under-bonnet lights, the front wings had compartments in them which were used for tool-boxes, while spare bulbs were carried in a foot rest in the front compartment. The seats were exceptionally comfortable and were provided with hollow padded headrests in which thermos flasks were concealed. A screen heating appliance and a radio set completed the interior
appointments, while four suitcases were carried in the back locker.
Light’s S.S. was One of the Standard 20 h.p. saloons, with streamlined tail, in which there was room for a ,good sized trunk. The interior and under-bonnet fittings of this Car also readied a high standard.
British. cars were in a strong majority in the open category, and the over-11-litre class was won by the Hon. Brian Lewis with his grey four-seater S.S. Madame Schell was second with a Dela.haye, fitted with a neat two-seater Figoni body with a real “spares service” behind the seats and running tools handy on the floor boards, while Sir Ronald Gunter’s striking Mercedes-Benz, the actual Olympia Show model secured third in spite of no special Rally equipment.
Minshall’s Singer was again the most ” gadgetted ” in the small car section, with more tools than one would have believed possible, a Small vice and a Woolworth grinder, not to mention distributor dynamo and suchlike spares all arranged under the bonnet. Much ingenuity was displayed by various competitors in preserving their route cards, and Miss Astbury had a complete map of the route with distances and other particulars laid out flat in an enormous celluloid-covered frame.
The Concours concluded the competitions run in conjunction with the Rally, but competitors were compelled to wait until Sunday before being able to obtain their prizes or plaques. This enforced delay is irritating for those who enter the Rally because of its sporting character and not as an excuse for visiting the Cote d’Azur, but the picturesque Presentation ceremony in the Square before the Palace of Monaco affords some measure of compensation. Every one of the 103 cars which finished, including the Ford V8 bus from Amsterdam, packed into the Square, the famous brass band played the National Anthems of the higher-placed finishers, gaily-coloured flags hung everywhere, and the officers of the Monagasque Guard strolled about in their bright uniforms and helmets with multi-coloured plumes. This slightly theatrical air, at any rate, makes one feel as though one’s efforts in reaching Monte Carlo had been appreciated, in contrast to the rather coldblooded concluding ceremonies which follow Rallies in this country.
The Future of the Rally.
As a sporting event the 1935 Rally was if anything more interesting than its predecessors, but it would be idle to deny that there were not causes of corn
plaint. In the first place, the rules about working in the final control were completely ignored by certain Continental competitors, while no attempt was made in many cases to check the coachwork dimensions. Again cars were undoubtedly damaged and tampered with in the Closed Park, and one hopes that another year more trustworthy guardians can be secured, or that the cars be locked in a garage and handled only by the drivers in the presence of marshals. Assuming that a car lost no marks in the inspection and the Starting Test, its place in the final order depended solely on its performance on the Figure of Eight, and competitors were entitled to expect their times would be recorded with the strictest accuracy. As far as could be judged from hand timing, this was far from being the case, while from the figures issued by the authorities, there seems more than a possibility that the times of different competitors on the same make of cars have been transposed. In view of these happenings, and to make sure that on another occasion there shall be no differentiation between nationalities, the only solution seems to be to have an international committee, as is the case in the Rally’s summer equivalent, the Alpir e
Much ink has been spilt about the unfairness of regulations which allow small high-powered cars such as the Alfa-Romeo and the Dolomite, and short large-engined vehicles like the Renault to compete against comfortable touring saloons, but anyone who cares to read them will find that the Competition is intended “for all classes of sports cars.” On the other hand the changing of axleratios and steering gears, and the fitting of tiny wheels just for the final test negatives the value of the road section for singling out the cars suitable for everyday use, and one hopes it will be possible to find some way to ensure that all cars undertake the final test equipped exactly as they had been for the journey down to Monte Carlo. Monsieur de Ro, the Belgian delegate, and Colonel Lindsay Lloyd have suggested that controls should be arranged every 100 km., or even more closely, on the last 500 miles. This suggestion would put a premium on absolute reliability and make it difficult to pile up the time necessary to accomplish those ” complete overhauls ” outside the final check. Monsieur Noghes meanwhile is planning a third test to decide the final classification next year, and which is intended to place large and small wheelbase cars on an equal footing, so here’s to the Perfect Rally of 1936 !