THE PAU GRAND PRIX
1935. Nuvolari (Alfa-Romeo) at 52.5 m.p.h. for 138 miles.
Fastest Lap : Nuvolari in lm. 52s. Speed 55.75 m.p.h. 1936. Etaneelin (Maserati) at 51.2 m.p.h. for 173 miles, Fastest Lap : Wimille (Bugetti) in lm. 55s. Speed 54.2 m.p.h,
February 21st. Another season is on its way, and once again after our winter recess we have been able to witness that most thrilling of all sights, the massed start of a motor race.
The first Grand Prix of the season somehow I feel should be a race for genuine Grand Prix cars on a traditional road circuit, but the round the town race for sports-cars at Pau, the Queen of the Pyrenees, seems a true forerunner for a large percentage of the big races this year.
The race was won as everyone forecast by Jean-Pierre Wimille with his 3.3-litre sports Bugatti—the car being as far as one could see an ordinary G.P. car “sans compresseur ” and with the smallest wings ever seen, plus headlamps and battery to complete the sports equipment.
Raymond Sommer (Talbot) was second, just getting the better of a great scrap with Rene Dreyfus (Delahaye), which was the one real bright spot of the race.
The circuit had received very careful attention at the hands of the Automobile Club de Basco-Bearnais ; the road was in excellent condition with a skidproof surface, and the only corner (that at the entry to the small straight) which caused trouble last year had been completely renovated. In fact the organisation throughout was very good ; everyth ng actually be.ng in order several days before the day of the race ; the only thing the organisers left out of their calculations being the weather, which was once again bad. And I shouldn’t be at all surprised to see the race next year being held much later on in the season, say in May or June.
The first day of ” training ” was fixed for Friday, when the roads were closed for an hour and a half.
The first actual arrival at Pau was that great veteran Albert Divo, who was due to make his first acquaintance with the Pau circuit ; then came the “Ecurie Bleu” drivers, Rene Dreyfus and Laury Schell, a great couple who have joined together for this year’s racing, and started well in the Monte Carlo Rally.
Robert Brunet, Albert Perrot, and Raph were all fit and well having conic straight on from the winter sports, which now seems to be the stock winter pastime of nearly all the crack drivers.
The first practice quickly affirmed everybody’s opinion that Wimille would be the star turn.
Although not in the best of health, the French ace did a lap in 1 min. 55 secs., which equalled the fastest lap in last year’s race, which he himself had set up in a genuine G.P. car. Sommer (Talbot) did a lap in lmin. 58 secs., which was second best, while the best Delahaye time was put up by Dreyfus in 2 mins. dead, this time being
equalled by ” Bira,” whose perf«r driving was a delight td see ; in fact his driving was, next to Wimille’s lap time, the chief topic of conversation. Only Maillard-Brune and Jamul failed to put in an appearance ; the others doing a few or many laps as they felt inclined, Chabaud putting in thirty
laps before he called it a day. Rene Le Legue, the holder of the T.T. lap record and winner of this year’s Monte Carlo Rally, did a few laps in Divo’s Talbot, being spare driver to the Talbot team.
On Saturday, Wimille again did the best lap and cut his Friday time down to 1 min. 53 sees., a truly astounding performance for an unblown car on this circuit.
Nearly everyone improved on his best time for Friday ; Divo (Talbot), Dreyfus (Delahaye) and ” Bira ” (Delahaye) all got down to 1 min. 57 secs. ; once again ” Bira’s ” driving was noted with particular admiration.
Maillard-Brune (Delahaye) did about twenty laps on this, his only day of practice, getting his time down from 2 min. 29 secs. to 2 min. 1 sec. Jamtin, the young Algerian, was posted as a definite nonstarter. So on the .eve of the race everyone looked upon Wimille as an almost certain winner with Sommer, Divo, Dreyfus and ” Bira ” as the ones who might follow him home. Race day broke a miserable, wet, overcast day, but even so, at an early hour crowds were beginning to take up vantage points around the course, and numbers of visitors were arriving from afar by train and car. So a financial success seemed assured, despite the wretched
conditions. During the preliminaries prior to the start, Dreyfus took the well known French airman, Marcel Doret, who has a passion for motor-racing, for a quick lap of the course, much to Doret’s delight ; while another personage the public were pleased to see at the start was the champion French cyclist, Antonin Magne. About twenty minutes before the start the steady drizzle seemed to be stopping, and it looked as if it might clear up and be fine but this unfortunately turned out to be untrue ; the clouds returned and the course was wet throughout the race. The fourteen starters were lined up in seven rows as follows :—
1st row.–Wimille (Bugatti)—Dreyfus (Delahaye). 2nd row., • Bira ” (Delahaye)–Divo (Talbot). 3rd row .—Son mer (Talbot)—Perrot (Del: ye) 4th row.—Maillard-Brune (Delaluiye)Irto 114 (Delahaye). 5th row.—Schell (Delahaye)–earriere ( 1)el; [‘Et yi,), :6th row.–(haband (1)elatuty0)—Paul ( H,1;111; 7th row.—Raph (Delahaye)—de Sang,’ijtt ii) All was set for the first race of the year and at about 2 o’clock Charles Faroux once again raised the flag and sent the field away on their journey. Wimille with terrific acceleration shot right away into a commanding lead at the very start, which in itself is of immense value on the short twisty Pan circuit. And from start to finish he was never headed ; the Bugatti was clear out in front at the end of the first lap with Dreyfus second, ” Bira ” third, and Sommer, Divo and Brunet next in order. On the second lap Sommer moved ahead of ” Bira ” and On the next lap passed Dreyfus to Second place, while Paul was the first person to make a call at the pits, but was away
almost at once. Incidentally very few pit calls were made during the course. On the fifth lap Brunet failed to come round, finally returning to the pits on foot, a connecting rod having gone ; and two laps later ” Bira ” coasted into Iris pit with exactly the same complaint. Bad hick, indeed 11 Seven laps and already two out of fourteen starters had retired, was the whole race going to fizzle out with no finishers ? Wimille steadily went ahead, the obvious superiority of his Bugatti becoming more and more apparent and although he seemed to be taking things very easily, by the twentieth lap (quarter distance) he was 1 min. 34 see. ahead of Sommer who was still second with Divo now third, ahead Of Dreyfus. In fact far more attention was being fixed on a great strug gle which was being waged by Sommer, Divo, and Dreyfus on their very evenly matched cars, and the driving of these three was an absolute treat to watch for lap after lap. By the twenty-seventh
Wimille had caught up with this scrap and by the twenty-ninth lap had passed all three, and so after a little more than a third of the race run, Wimille had lapped the entire field. Before the start Wimille said his idea was to get right away at the start, and
try to get a lap ahead of the entire field, and if he did this he would just follow the field at their own pace ; and here his plans had worked omit exactly. Now the only point of real interest was a clog fight which seemed to be de veloping between Dreyfus and Sommer for second place Actually at the thirtysecond lap Divo was ahead of Dreyfus,
but the latter suddenly started to speed up to no mean effect quickly passing the veteran Talbot driver, and then he set out to Catch Sommer, who was still in second place. So at half distance (forty laps) the order was :—
1. Wimille in lh. 21111. 27s., at an average speed of 51 m.p.h.
2. Sommer in Ill. 24m. 10s.
3. Dreyfus in 1h. 24m. 17s.
4. Div() in Ili. 24m. 3ls.
5. Rapti. Carriere.
12. de Sange. J mist after the leaders had covered half distance an incident occurred which might easily have ended in a bad accident. Dreyfus began to overtake the tail ender de Sauge just in front of the stands : de Sauge pulled into the side to let Dreyfus by, and immediately the Delahaye had passed de Sauge pulled back into the centre of the road right in front of D:vo who was also on the point of passing de
Sauge. It looked for a Moment as if the two cars must collide, but somehow, with incredible skill, Divo managed to slide past the erring de Sauge. A lucky escape for all concerned, and a bad bit of driving on the part of de Sauge in his very slow Bugatti. At sixty laps Wimille was still well ahead with Sommer second, now 21 secs. ahead of Dreyfus, who seemed to be now
lapping at a steady I min. 58 secs. to Sommer’s 2 min. At the sixty-eighth lap Wimille was two laps ahead of all the field except Sommer and Dreyfus. At the seventieth lap, Dreyfus was 14 sees., behind Sommer, while at seventy-five laps he was only 7 secs. behind ; all of which was working the crowd up into a very healthy state of excitement, as well as another dog fight which was going on between Raph and Carriere for fifth place. Soinmer was told to speed up during the last few laps and so ward off Dreyfus’s determined challenge ; and he speeded up to such effect that on his seventy-eighth lap he put up the fastest lap of the race in 1 min. 54 secs. (54.65 m.p.h.) and hung
on to his second place—not forgetting 20,000 francs—by the small margin of 6 secs. Just before the end Perrot while on his seventy-fourth lap broke his gearlever and so had to retire, thus leaving ten cars to follow the Bugatti home after its easy win. And so ended a very uneventful race ; memorable only for the very easy v:ctory and a good fight for second place. Bugatti still seems to be the best of the bunch, although it looks as though shortly Talbot may be able to give them something to think seriously about. Wimille after the race said that although it was a hard and difficult race it was not as tiring or as difficult as the Monaco Race
whereas ” Bira ” and Divo were both of the opinion that the Pau circuit was the more difficult of the two. RESULTS
1. Wimille (Bugatti) 80 laps in 2h. 41m. 14.8s, Speed 51.52 m.p.h.
2. Sommer (Talbot) 79 laps in 2b. 42m. 19s.
3. Dreyfus (Delahaye) 79 laps in 211. 42m. 26s. 4. Divo (Talbot) 78 laps. 5, Rapti (Talbot) 78 laps
6. Carriere (Delabaye) 78 laps.
7. Chaband (Delahaye) 78 laps. S. Maillard-Brune (Delahaye) 75 laps.
9. Schell (Delahaye) 75 laps.
10. Paul (Delahaye) 72 laps.
11. de Sauge (Bugatti 69 laps.
Fastest Lap : Sommer (Talbot) in 1m. 54s. Speed 54.65 m.p.h.
Retirements : Brunet (Delahaye) on his 4th lap ; ” Bira ” (Delabaye) on his 6th tap ; Perrot (Delabaye) on his 74th lap.