THE SPORT ABROAD.
The Grand Prix of Tunis.
Victory to’ r the new Bugatti Racer in the First Grand Prix of the Season.
THE Grand Prix of Tunis, which was run on/Sunday, 29th March, and which was thus the first racing car event of the season, resulted in a victory for the Italian driver, Achille Varzi, at the wheel of one of the new 2,300 c.c. Bugatti racers (with the double overhead camshaft engine), after a terrific struggle with the Maserati team. Fagioli on a 2-litre 8-cylinder car of this make was second, Marcel Lehoux on a 2-litre Bugatti third and Biondetti on the 4-litre 16-cylinder Maserati fourth. The French champion, Rene Dreyfus, who was driving for the first time as one of the Maserati team, at one time looked a possible winner, but was put out of the race after leaving the road at a corner.
The race, which on previous occasions has been run over the circuit of Bardo, was this year held on a road circuit near Carthage, which measured just under 8 miles to a lap, and which had to be covered 37 times, making a total distance of 294 miles. The course was in excellent condition, and the race was thoroughly well organised and was favoured by perfect weather.
The cars were divided into two classes, under and over 1,500 c.c. and as soon as the entry lists closed it was clear that the race was going to provide a first-class opening to the season. In the bigger class, Achille Varzi alone represented the official Bugatti team with one of the new type racers, but he was supported by Marcel Lehoux, winner of the race in 1928 and second in 1929, Etancelin, winner of the French Grand Prix last year, Miguel, Czaikowski, Count d’Arnoux, and von Morgen all on Bugattis. Against them were ranged the official Maserati team consisting of Biondetti on the 16-cylinder car and Rene Dreyfus and Fagioli on 8-cylinder racers, with the amateur driver Klinger, also on a Maserati. In the 1,500 c.c. division Ernesto Maserati drove one of the cars bearing his name, Castelbarco had one of the old Grand Prix Talbots, Scaron and Dourel drove Amilcars, Marret a Salmson, and Jacquin and GiraudCabantons cars of their own construction, while the Bugatti contingent consisted of Madame Itier, Eberhardt, Martin, Veyron, Gaupillat, Angwerd, Vagniez and Roux.
A Hectic Start.
Just before one o’clock the twenty-six competitors were all drawn up on the road opposite the grandstand, and the start was given by Madame Manceron, wife of the Resident Superior. The whole pack got away down the road in a confused mass, but at the end of the first lap Fagioli had worked his way to the front, hotly pursued by Varzi on the Bugatti and Dreyfus on the 8cylinder Maserati, Lehoux on the fastest of the 2-litre Bugattis and Biondetti on the big Maserati. By the end of the second lap, however, Varzi had passed Fagioli and taken the lead.
Among the smaller cars, in the meantime, retirements came early. Jacquin fell out with a stripped magneto drive, and Marret and Martin. evidently started off too quickly as the first put a connecting rod through the crankcase and the second broke a piston, while Gaupillat and Augwerd both fell out early on. Madame Itier’s car was apparently suffering from carburettor trouble as the engine spat back viciously, but she kept going.
The order of the leaders, however, remained unchanged until at the end of the ninth lap, Rene Dreyfus, who was then in third place behind Varzi and Fagioli, stopped at his pit with a broken oil-pipe. But the damage was quickly repaired, and the French champion roared off to make up for lost time, after a delay of 3 minutes 45 seconds. A slight exces de zele on a corner, however, and his Maserati left the road and was hopelessly crashed, the driver being fortunately unhurt. Dreyfus, however, was now out of it, and Biondetti moved up to take his place. The order of the leaders at the end of ten laps was therefore as follows :—
1. Varzi (Bugatti), 53m. Os.
2. Fagioli (Maserati), 53m. 54s.
3. Lehoux (Bugatti), Mm.
4. Biondetti (Maserati), 55m. 20s.
5. von Morgen (Bugatti), 55m. 28s.
6. Etancelin (Bugatti), 56m. 51s.
7. Klinger (Maserati), 59m. 18s.
On the twelfth lap Fagioli stopped to change his plugs, but without losing his position, and then on the fourteenth lap Varzi burst a tyre. This gave Fagioli his chance, and he immediately leapt into the lead, only to lose it again to Varzi after another stop to change plugs, which also allowed Lehoux to get past him and into second place. The Maserati fortunes indeed now seemed to be on the wane, for soon afterwards Biondetti burst a tyre and, as a result of the delay, was passed by both von Morgen and Etancelin. The latter though, was not destined to be lucky for soon afterwards he was forced to retire with gear-box trouble. The same trouble in the meantime had also overtaken Castelbarco, who, however, had fallen far back with the Talbot, and his withdrawal was quickly followed by that of Eberhardt with a broken valve. The Maserati team nevertheless, made one more effort, and on the 27th lap Biondetti passed von Morgen, and shortly before the end Fagioli managed to get past Lehoux. But there was no catching Varzi, and he finally crossed the line winner of the third Grand Prix of Tunis, with Ernesto Maserati an easy winner in the 1,500 c.c class. The final results were as follows 1. Achille Varzi (Bugatti), 3h. 23m. 39s. (Average speed 86.6 m.p.h.)
2. Luigi Fagioli (Maserati), 3h. 25m. 26s.
3. Marcel Lehoux (Bugatti), 3h. 25m. 41s.
4. Biondetti (Maserati), 3h. 28m. 29s.
5. von Morgen (Bugatti), 311. 30m. 21s.
6. Czaikowski (Bugatti), 3h. 38m. 18s.
7. Klinger (Maserati), 3h. 38m. 27s.
8. Miguel (Bugatti), 3h. 55m. 43s.
1,500 C.C. CLASS. 1. Ernesto Maserati (Maserati), 3h. 40m. 2s. (Average speed 80.14 m.p.h.)
2. Veyron (Bugatti), 3h. 51m. 20s.
3. Scaron (Amilcar), 3h. 53m. 38s.
4. Giraud-Cabantons (Caban), 4h. 1 m. 20s.
5. Roux (Bugatti), 4h. 2m. 38s.
6. Vagniez (Bugatti).
7. Madame Itier (Bugatti).
8. Dourel (Amilcar).