1930 French Grand Prix
Another Bugatti Victory at Record Speeds
Bentley Second-Bugattis Third and Fourth.
Etancelin, driving a 2-litre Bugatti, won the sixteenth Grand Prix of the Automobile Club de France at Pau on 21st September last. For the 250 miles he averaged over 90 m.p.h. on the road, a speed which gives some idea of the severity of the struggle. Second place was gained by H. R. S. Birkin on a 4½-litre supercharged Bentley fitted with a 4-seater body ; Zanelli (2,300 c.c. Bugatti) was third, and Czaikowski (2-litre Bugatti) fourth.
Of the 34 entries, only 25 actually appeared at the starting line, and unfortunately some of the most interesting cars were absent. The starters were as follows : F. Montier (3, 200 c.c. Ford), C. Montier (3,200 c.c. Ford), Ferrand (3,950 c.c. Peugeot), Stoffel (3,950 c.c. Peugeot), Birkin (4,488 c.c. Bentley), Laly (3,340 c.c. Aries), Lehoux (2,300 c.c . Bugatti), Zanelli (2,300 c.c. Bugatti), Lumachi (2,300 c.c. Bugatti), Daniel (2,300 c.c. Bugatti), Bouriat (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Czaikowski (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), de Maleplane (1,992 c.c. Bugatti),” Sabipa ” (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Grimaldi (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Etancelin (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), M. Fourny (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Delaroche (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Williams (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), de l’Espie (1,992 c.c. Bugatti), Witnille (1,494 c.c. Bugatti), Gaupillat (1,494 c.c. Bugatti), de Bondelli (1,494 c.c. Bugatti), Senechal (1,488 c.c. Delage), Casali (1,496 c.c. la Perle).
The Peugeots which had looked interesting on paper proved to be the famous old racers which consist of 4-litre cuff-valve engines in pre-war 3-litre chassis, machines which have many times distinguished themselves in the Targa Florio. In the absence of interesting new racers, it was apparent that all the competition would lie between Birkin on the Bentley and the many Bugattisti. At the end of the first round, Bouriat on a 2-litre Bugatti was in the lead, with Birkin sixth, sandwiched in between a host of Bugattis, and Senechal on the Grand Prix Delage, fastest of the other cars.
Lehoux, one of the favourites, retired on the first lap with gear-box trouble, to be followed shortly afterwards by Max Fourny and Delaroche, but on the second lap Williams took the lead, with Zanelli second, Bouriat third, Etancelin fourth and Birkin fifth. The order remained the same until the sixth lap, when Zanelli fell back, and Bouriat stopped to hand over to Chiron, being passed by Etancelin in the process. Wimille at this point was forced to retire with supercharger trouble.
On the next lap, Williams stopped for adjustments and Chiron took the lead, with Etancelin second, both ahead of him, Birkin fourth and Senechal fifth.
On the twelfth lap, Chiron in his turn had to stop at his pit, and Etancelin, who had been driving very sagaciously, obviously with the idea of saving his tyres, took the lead. At the same time Williams, who had been gradually dropping back, finally retired, and on the next lap Sabipa turned over, fortunately without suffering serious injuries. After fifteen laps the order of the leaders was as follows :
1. Etancelin (Bugatti), 1 h. 37m. 15s.
2. Zanelli (Bugatti), 1h. 39m. 58s.
3. Birkin (Bentley), lh. 41m. 7s.
At about this time both Gaupillat and Montier junior retired, and shortly afterwards Zanelli too stopped at his pit, and, although he got going again, he was now third behind Birkin. Thereafter the order was scarcely changed until the finish, and the final result was :
1. Philippe Etancelin (Bugatti), 2h. 43m. 18 2/5s.
2. H. R. S. Birkin (Bentley), 2h. 46m. 44 3/55s.
3. Zanelli (Bugatti), 2h. 46m. 54 4/5s.
4. Czaikowski (Bugatti), 2h. 51m. 27s.
5. de l’Espee (Bugatti), 2h. 54m. 28 4/5s.
6. Senechal (Delage), 2h. 56m. 28 3/5s.
7. de Maleplane (Bugatti), 3h. Om. 58s.
Montier, Casali and Grimaldi were still running, but were stopped by the stewards.