Louis Chiron, driving one of the new 2,300 c.c. Bugatti racers with two overhead camshafts, won the third Grand Prix of Monaco, on Sunday, 19th April, covering the 198¾ miles course in 3 hours, 39 minutes, 9 1/5 seconds, at an average speed of 54.1 m.p.h. Less than four minutes behind him came the Italian Fagioli on a 2½-litre Maserati, and another Italian “ace,” Achille Varzi, on another of the new Bugattis was third. Of the twenty-three starters only nine finished the course, and the race was throughout a gruelling test to destruction.
The original twenty-eight entries which had been selected by the organisers of the race were reduced to twenty-three when the actual start was given. In the first place the team of three Alfa-Romeos which were to have been driven by the Italian champions, Nuvolari, Arcangeli and Borzacchini, was withdrawn as the firm was under contract to race only on a certain make of tyres which had proved unsatisfactory in the recent Italian 1,000 Miles Race. Then Sir Henry Birkin, one of the English entrants, was unable to start owing to the fact that his Maserati had blown its cylinder head joint, and Ivanowski, who was to have driven a big Mercedes was not allowed to take part in the race by the stewards as he had put in no practice laps on the circuit and had actually arrived late for the weighing in. The actual starters therefore consisted of:
Stuber, Ackerl, Williams, Albert Divo, Marcel Lehoux, Achille Varzi, Louis Chiron, von Morgen, Penn-Hughes, Philippe Utancelin, Lord Howe, Burggaller, Zanelli, Guy Bourriat, Count Czaikowski and Prince Leiningen on Bugattis; Rene Dreyfus, Biondetti, Fagioli and Pedrazzini on Maseratis; Rudolf Caracciola on his giant Mercedes; Zehender on an Alfa-Romeo, and Andre Boillot, running under the nom de guerre of Dribus on his veteran Peugeot racer.
This machine which has existed more or less in its present form since 1922 and consists of a sports 4-litre cuff-valve engine in a pre-war 3-litre class racing chassis, had taken part in several Targa Florios.
At 1.30 on the Sunday afternoon these twenty-three competitors were drawn up on the starting line arranged in threes, with Dreyfus, Williams and Stuber in the front rank and Ackerl, Lehoux and Canavviola directly behind them. A stiff mistral was blowing the blue smoke from their exhausts across the course, but the sun shone brightly on the waiting line of red, white and blue racers. Then suddenly the flag dropped and with a deafening roar the whole pack shot away up the long hill towards the casino in a tightly packed mass. Two minutes and they were round again, the deafening noise of the exhausts echoing from the houses being almost drowned by the applause of the thousands of spectators packed into every available corner. Réné Dreyfus on the red Maserati was in the lead, but Williams on the Bugatti was hard on his heels with Lehoux just behind and then the rest of the field in a confused mass. Two more laps and another terrific burst of applause came from the crowd for Williams had passed Dreyfus and taken the lead, while Caracciola, after a terrific tussle with Varzi had leapt into fourth place. But Williams’ lead was to last for only one lap, for the next time round it was again Dreyfus’ red Maserati which led, and Williams who had fallen far back came into the pits to retire with a broken valve spring. Lehoux was now running second, but Varzi was coming up terribly fast to pass him and on the seventh lap amid wild excitement, he got past Dreyfus also, and took the lead. The order after ten laps was as follows :
1. Varzi (Bugatti), 22m. 17s.
2. Dreyfus (Maserati), 22m. 21s.
3. Chiron (Bugatti), 22m. 26s.
4. Caracciola (Mercedes), 22m. 29s.
5. Miondetti (Maserati), 22m. 44s.
6. Bouriat (Bugatti), 22m. 48s.
The times of the leaders at this point give some idea of the severity of the struggle. From the spectators point of view the chief impression of the race was of a deafening din and a confused mass of cars shooting past so close together that it was difficult to distinguish their exact order. The competitors frequently racing almost wheel to wheel, breathing each other’s exhaust fumes and negotiating ten difficult corners each lap had a hard task indeed. Lehoux had already retired down by the sea-wall with a stripped crown-wheel in his back axle, and shortly afterwards he was followed by Etancelin whose Bugatti broke a piston.
Chiron ‘s Progress.
Chiron had by now begun to go really fast and a few laps later he passed Dreyfus and gained second place. Divo also was moving up and Biondetti dropped back. The order after twenty laps was as follows :
1. Varzi (Bugatti), 44m. 4s.
2. Chiron (Bugatti), 44m. 25s.
3. Dreyfus (Bugatti), 44m. 41s.
4. Caracciola (Mercedes), 44m. 50s.
5. Bouriat (Bugatti), 44m. 51s.
6. Divo (Bugatti), 45m. 10s.
The Bugatti position thus looked fairly secure as the cars from Molsheim now occupied five out of the first six places. Chiron meanwhile was gradually creeping up on Varzi, and on the twenty-fourth lap Bouriat managed to pass Caracciola and gain fourth place. Then on the next lap Dreyfus drew into his pit and worked for nearly eight minutes repairing a broken oil pipe. He got going again, but of course he was now far behind the leaders. Then on the 27th lap Varzi came into the pits with a smashed front wheel and burst tyre and Louis Chiron took the lead which he was not to lose again throughout the race. The public excitement was terrific for Chiron is a native of Monaco and a great favourite. At the end of 30 laps the positions were as follows :
1. Chiron (Bugatti), 1h. 6m. 24s.
2. Bouriat (Bugatti), 1h. 7m. 7s.
3. Caracciola (Mercedes), 1h. 7m. 9s.
4. Divo (Bugatti), 1h. 7m. 18s.
5. Varzi (Bugatti), 1h. 8m. 23s.
6. Biondetti (Maserati), 1h. 8m. 26s.
Fagioli on the second Maserati who was then in seventh place suddenly seemed to find his form at this point, and with a tremendous burst of speed he came right up on the 31st lap into second place behind Chiron. A few laps later Divo managed to get past Caracciola and gained fourth place, but Burgaller and von Morgen had now both retired from the race. On the 39th lap Divo came into his pit, his trouble being apparently a slipping clutch, and although he got going again he had to stop twice more and was passed by both Caracciola and Varzi who was driving desperately to try and make up for lost time. At the end of 40 laps the order was as follows :
1. Chiron (Bugatti), 1h. 28m. 18s.
2. Bouriat (Bugatti), 1h. 29m. 6s.
3. Caracciola (Mercedes), 1h. 29m. 25s.
4. Varzi (Bugatti), 1h. 30m. 15s.
5. Divo (Bugatti), 1h. 30m. 28s.
6. Fagioli (Maserati), 1h. 30m. 51s.
Divo continued to fall back as a result of pit stops and was passed by both Fagioli and Lord Howe who thus gained sixth place but otherwise the order remained practically unchanged until 50 laps, half distance, had been covered. Then soon afterwards Caracciola was seen coming very slowly out of the tunnel and returned to his pit to retire after working for some time to try and cure a slipping clutch. This withdrawal robbed the race of a great feature of interest, and shortly afterwards Zanelli fell out with a broken piston to be quickly followed by Prince Leiningen, with a broken selector mechanism. Fagioli, however, put on another spurt and regained second place, the order after 60 being as follows :
1. Chiron (Bugatti), 2h. 11m. 55s.
2. Fagioli (Maserati), 2h. 13m. 8s.
3. Bouriat (Bugatti), 2h. 13m. 31s.
4. Varzi (Bugatti), 2h. 14m. 28s.
5. Divo (Bugatti), 2h. 18m. 17s.
6. Lord Howe (Bugatti), 2h. 18m. 24s.
7. Andre Boillot (Peugeot), 2h. 20m. 98.
8. Zehender (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 21m. 0s.
9. Biondetti (Maserati), 2h. 21m. 26s.
Among the slower cars, Andre Boillot’s old Peugeot was running with amazing regularity and was followed by Zehender’s 1,750 c.c. Alfa-Romeo which was also a Targa Florio car consisting of a bonnet and two bucket seats on the chassis. A few laps later Bouriat managed to pass Fagioli and gained second place, but Chiron was still nearly a lap ahead. Divo however, drew up at his pit and retired with a broken ball-race in the engine, and he was shortly afterwards followed by Lord Howe, whose Bugatti’s engine seized as a result of the fracture of an oil pipe. After 80 laps had been covered the order was as follows :
1. Chiron (Bugatti), 2h. 55m. 35s.
2. Bouriat (Bugatti), 2h. 57m. 33s.
3. Fagioli (Maserati), 2h. 57m. 55s.
4. Varzi (Bugatti), 2h. 59m. 7s.
5. Zehender (Alfa-Romeo) 3h. 4m. 55s.
6. Dreyfus (Maserati), 3h. 4m. 59s.
7. Boillot (Peugeot), 3h. 6m. 45s.
In spite of the number of withdrawals the competition among the leaders showed no sign of slackening, and Chiron covered the 80th lap in 2 minutes 8 seconds which is equal to the record set up by Dreyfus last year. This performance was repeated by Fagioli four laps later, and Bouriat having stopped to change his plugs, the former regained second place. In the meantime Pedrazzini had retired from the race, his Maserati suffering from ignition troubles. The end was now approaching, and finally soon after five o’clock, Chiron crossed the finishing line, winner of the third Grand Prix of Monaco.
A Car to Watch.
Thus the new Bugatti racer has already proved its ourstanding performance and will be watched with great interest in future races. The Maserati has given a good account of itself as usual, and Fagioli has proved himself a brilliant driver. The final result was as follows :
1. Chiron (Bugatti), 3h. 39m. 9 1/5s’
2. Fagioli (Maserati), 3h. 43m. 4 3/5s.
3. Varzi (Bugatti), 3h. 43m, 13 1/5s.
4. Bouriat (Bugatti), having covered 98 laps.
5. Zehender (Alfa-Romeo), having covered 97 laps.
6. Boillot (Peugeot), having covered 96 laps.
7. Biondetti (Maserati), having covered 93 laps.
8. Penn-Hughes (Bugatti), having covered 89 laps.
9. Czaikowski (Bugatti), having covered 85 laps.