LA COUPE IN IhRNATIONALE DES ALPES. TEAM PRIZES WON BY M. G. ADLER, HOTCHICISS AND FORD. BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES BY M.G., RILEY, ALFA ROMEO, BUGATTI AND FORD.
THE Fifth International Alpine Trial attracted a . starting entry of 121 cars, of which number 42 were made up of teams who were competing for Alpine Cups, the rest being individuals for whom Glacier Cups were the prize.
The British entry was a big one, comprising teams of S.S. 1, Vauxhall, Riley, Frazer Nash, M.G. and Singer. In the individual classes were such makes as Talbot, Al vi, Humber, Daimler, A.C., Riley, Frazer Nash, Wolseley, Aston Martin, M.G. Magna and Midget, Singer and Triumph.
First to leave England were the Singers, RileYs and Triumphs, who crossed on July 23rd. The two Talbots went over on the next day., and the rest of the cars left on Tuesday and Wednesday by Townsend Ferries. Various routes to Merano were taken, mostly via Paris or Rheims to Zurich, and thence either by Austria or over the Stelvio. The S.S. team Chose the latter route, for a preliminary run up the chief climb of the trial. Cars which had been functioning perfectly in France began to give trouble as soon as the Alps were reached. Belgrave’s blown Midget ran a big end at Davos, but he arrived at Merano on the Saturday before the Monday starting day.
Watkinson had trouble with his Magna, but the agents in Zurich dashed over (185 miles) and working all day in terrific heat and half a night, completely stripped and reassembled the engine. Incidentally the M.G. 1VIagnas were the actual Relay Race cars, but with new engines. At Merano most people, for some unknown reason, proceeded to take their cylinder heads off, probably from an instictive urge that something would go
wrong if they did not work on their cars until the last moment. One team changed their back axle ratios. The order of the day was to work in the morning and bathe in a big new swimming pool in the afternoon Some excitement was caused in the excellent garage in which the official Rileys were parked. A short in the wiring of Healey’s Brooklands model caused a small fire, which was soon ex
Up till now it had been very hot, but after the first day’s sendineering • on Saturday a terrific downpour of rain during the night soaked many cars which had been left in the open through lack of garage accommodation. The remainder of the scrutineerincrh went off satisfactorily and on Monday morning, at the early hour of 4 o’clock, the first car left the Merano control on its 250 miles journey. The route lay over the Giovo Pass to a control at Lago di Misurina, thence over the ralzarego and Pordoi Passes and back to Merano after tackling the Giovo in the reverse direction. Dr. Weys (Ford) and Samuel Collier (Auburn), an American, had difficulty in Starting their cars, and W. F. Bradley had to change a wheel on his Hotchkiss. otherwise everyone got away quietly. Unlike last year’s route, When the Trial started from Munich, the road immediately began to climb, and was hard going right from the start. For thirty-six miles the cars twisted and turned up the Giovo Pass, with often a steep cliff on one side of the road and a sheer drop on the other, from which cars are protected by stone posts placed at intervals. This first stretch made newcomers to the trial very nervous, for it was impossible to
average the speed demanded by the regulations, 28.125 m.p.h. for Groups I and 2; 27.5 m.p.h. for Group 3; 26.875 m.p.h. in Group 4; and 26.25 m.p.h. for Group 5. Once over the Pass the easier road beside Lake Misurina gave a respite, but not for long, for after passing Cortina d’Ampezzo the Falzarego Pass had to be climbed. It was near this point that occurred the fitst accident to a British competitor
when V. L. Seyd, driving Blackstone’s O.M. left the road, demolished a stone post and then. hit a telegraph pole. Seyd himself could not account for the accident at all. Five willing peasants helped to lift the car back onto the road, and it was towed to a garage. There, everything was straightened out and a new battery fitted in four hours, to say nothing of advancing 100 lires to the crew and giving credit for the work. Some service !
After the Falzerego came the timed 7,354ft. climb of the Pordoi Pass, where many marks were bound to be lost. First came the Dutch team of 1934 Fords, amolig whom 11 precious points were forfeited. Of the S.S. team only Needham made a clean climb, Symons losing 3 marks and Miss Allan 4. The new 2.3 litre 4 cylinder Hotchkiss were impressive, that experienced Hotchkiss driver W. F. Bradley climbing without loss of marks, while his team-mates lost only 3 between them. Among the 2 litres, the Adlers were the best, while British small cars did better than any of the larger machines when all the Frazer Nashes and Rileys got up without penalisation. The 12/6 Vauxhalls lost 36 points, the 1,500 c.c. Adlers 13, the Rohrs 43 and the Stoewer’s 61. Of the 1,100’s, Singers lost 30, Fiats 41 and M.G.’ S only 9.
Although competitors had been reminded before the trial that the event was not a race (in English, German, French, Italian and Dutch) a good deal of” scrapping” was evident, and resulted in a bad accident to Klotz on a 3. litre MercedesBenz. He was trying to pass Rayson’s 7 litre” Merc,” when his car struck a post at the side of the road and got out of control. After two complete somersaults it came to rest in a neighbouring field, when it was found that neither the driver nor the passenger was injured. Rayson then proceeded.
Two English competitors, W. M. Couper (Talbot) and Montague Johnstone (Riley) were particularly unfortunate in having to retire with that most irritating of all car ills, fuel feed starvation. In each case the cause of this trouble defied all normal remedies. Other retirements were Lt. Col. Macfarlane (Wolseley Hornet), fuel pump ; F. W. Oxley (Frazer. Nash) after two deviations from the roadway, with consequent chassis trouble ; A. C. R.. Alexander, whose Riley was damaged in collision with a non-competing car ; and Zeeck (Austro Daimler), P11loud (Fiat) and F. Huckel (Tatra-Rohr) with sundry mechanical failures. And so the first day ended with only 30 competitors out of 121 starters having clean scores.
That night the Mayor of Merano gave a party to the competitors, and an innocent-looking beverage which tasted like apple juice was found to be something quite different and exceedingly potent.
The Second Day.
The next morning several competitors did odd jobs of work on their cars after leaving the control. All the S.S. team changed cylinder head gaskets, Symons being the fastest in 40 minutes. The most unfortunate competitor was A. L. Marshall, who with the assistance of his spare driver R. Bick f or d, did very
fundamental repairs to his Frazer Nash.
Those unfamiliar with the placing of the time-control at the foot of the Stelvio were at a distinct disadvantage, for the canny drivers made full use of the straight half mile after the control by charging through at high speed. The average speeds required were the same as for the trial itself, in fact beyond the capabilities of any but the most efficient cars, both as regards power and adequate lock on the hairpins. Actually only seven cars got up without loss of marks, a really creditable feat, and of these seven, four were British cars of under 1,500 c.c. capacity. The full list was Mlle. Helle-Nice (Bugatti), Delmar (Bugatti), Carriere (Alfa Romeo), H. J. .Aldington (Frazer Nash), Jack Hobbs (Riley), D. M. Healey (Riley) and W. E. Belgrave (M.G. Midget).
The long hill proved the undoing of the SS. team, for Symons and Miss Allan both had to retire at the top with a blown gasket and a crankcase full of water. Needham, on the third car, made a fairly good climb, but the team was no longer. Another team injury, but of a different kind, took place when T. A. W. Thorpe damaged the front axle of his Frazer Nash during the climb, losing 92 marks straight away. The Riley team, on the other hand, only lost 19 marks. Healey was lucky to make a clean climb in the individual class, for a plug faded out near the top. Petrol pumps were hard worked, and gave trouble in some cases, Mrs. Gripper having to finish the climb in stages of 10 yards at a time ; while Major Lago had to stop in the middle and secure the pump on his Talbot saloon, as it had come adrift. The Hotchkiss team had to start immediately behind the rather slow MercedesBenz, but in spite of having much passing to do they only lost 19 marks, Bradley making the best performance. When everyone had come through, at least so the official at the foot of the hill thought,
A. L. Marshall shot past, going all he knew in order to make up time. The time-sheets had been collected, and as Marshall climbed at great speed he was allowed a mark-free score. The day was not yet over for the harrassed competitors. After the Stelvio came the Bernina, and then the Albula and the Fluela, and at last St. Moritz. was reached for an afternoon lunch. None of the seven clean-score cars lost any marks on this section, remaining as in the list given above. But there had been 10 retirements during this difficult day. They were the two S.S 1 cars already mentioned; Mrs. Gripper’s Frazer Nash ; Miss Richmond’s Singer with the inevitable fuel pump trouble ; S. • Sander’s M.G. Magna coupe; de Bremond’s Mathis, of which much was expected,
with a broken back axle ; Bathes Citroen ; Von Wrede’s B.M.W. ; and Pige-Leschellas, who had experienced trouble with the ball-races on the front axle of his A.C.
The Third Day.
On Wednesday everyone wished last year’s day of rest at St. Moritz would be repeated, for an unbroken series of strenuous days is apt to overshadow the enjoyment which competitors might otherwise obtain from the trial. However, 6 o’clock saw the big Fords being dispatched once more, and one after another the cars were sent away. Many people had difficulty in starting, and it was exceedingly fortunate that the day’s run was a fairly easy one, enabling lost time to be regained by fast driving. The Rileys were particularly obstreperous, the official cars having to be pushed and towed up and down outside the Grand Hotel before they finally got away. Some indication of the easy nature of the route (relatively speaking) may be judged by the fact that no one lost any marks, and only Rossi (Delage) and Porter Hargreaves (Frazer Nash) retired, the latter with a fractured piston. Three Passes lay on the route, the Julien (7,502 ft.), the San Bernardino (6,767 ft.), with its exasperatingly long, gradual descent, and the Ceneri (4,150 ft). At Ponte Tresa the Italian frontier was crossed, and immediately all the atmosphere of a road race was apparent, for the excited Italian crowds gave the cars a tremendous welcome as they passed through Varese, Vercelli, Chivasso and so to Turin. Here quite a reception took place, Signo Parisio,
chief of the Signor Maxchesi, head of the Fiat concern and well-known racing drivers greeting the competitors.
In the evening a party was given at the wonderful Stadium Mussolini, a smaller edition of Wembley which was entirely built in six weeks and holds 50,000 people.
The Fourth Day.
For some distance after leaving Turin flat roads were traversed, over which fast speeds were made, until the Col de Sestrieres was reached. Extensive road repairs were in progress here, but caused no trouble except to Bradley, who had a brake seize on his Hotchkiss through a stone coming up and wedging between the pivot and the spring. The car broadsided, but was undamaged. Then came the Col du Mont Genevre, after which the real trouble started.
Before leaving Briancon for Grenoble, the control for that night, competitors had to make a loop to Guillestre which included the appalling Col d’Izoaxd. This unpleasant climb is associated in the minds of Continental motorists with thick, dust, and an unprotected roadway cut in the side of a vertical cliff. In order to make things still more difficult the organisers had a control placed at Guillestre, so that no one had any time in hand when the climb began. Passing was impossible, for the road was too narrow, and so everybody was late at Briancon.
Then came the difficult Galibier’s Pass, which being timed was bound to cost many marks to most cars. Up to this point the seven people who had climbed the SteIvo without loss of marks had still maintained their clean scores, but alas ! the Galibier took its toll. “Seven Alpine Trial cars
With scores from marks quite free Tried to climb the Galibier Pass And then there were three ! “
To average 27 or 28 m.p.h. up the Galibier demands a car of superlative qualities combined with faultless driving, and of the 100 odd cars left in the trial only Carriere (supercharged Alfa Romeo) who made fastest time, Delmar (supercharged Bugatti) and H. J. Aldington (unsupercharged Frazer Nash) exceeded their required averages of 28.125 and 26.875 m.p.h. respectively. A magnificent feat on the part of all three. The day was a really heavy one for after the tricky descent of the other side of the Galibier came the Col du Telegraph, the Col de la Croix de Per and Glandon. Pass. All this section of the route demanded a great deal of hard, concentrated driving on the part of drivers, the Grenoble control almost taking on the aspect of a mirage. At last the
macadamised road to Grenoble was reached, over the twenty miles of which cars were blinded flat out in order to regain time lost since the Galibier Pass.
The field presented an attenuated picture at Grenoble. To begin with some competitors had dropped out, most important of these being the redoubtable Georges de Lavelette, whose Peugeot had developed engine trouble. Miss Gough had retired with her Singer after pushing the car into the control. The loss of marks by teams were interesting, and represented a fair idea of the capabilities of the cars. The wonderful Frazer Nashes lost only 5 marks, theirs being the best performance of the day ; then came the brilliant new 2 litre Hotchkiss trio, with 14; Rileys were next, with 17; followed by M.G.’s, 38; Mercedes-Benz, 43; the Adlers, 46; Singers, 50; Fiats, 61; Rohrs, 75; and the Stoewers, 85. Some of the individual competitors failed to make up time on the last run-in, and were penalised, among them being C. M. Walker (Daimler), Miss Champney (Riley), Col. Holbrook (Triumph), Miss Hobbs (Riley) and Miss Patten (Alvis).
The Last Day.
And so the next, Friday, saw the competitors setting out from Grenoble on the last stage of 240 miles to Nice. After the
terrible gruelling of the previous day the route seemed easy, especially the first stretch over the Col de Lary and the Col Bayard to Gap, Embrtm and Guillestre. Here abouts Lag° lost a wheel from his Talbot while travelling at speed. The missing component took a short cut and was found on the road 250 yards ahead, round a bend. After much frantic effort on the part of the crew the car was reassembled and proceeded on its way, but the accident cost Lago 2 marks owing to the fact that his brakes were found to be defective during the final examination at Nice.
The second stage, taking in the Col de Vars, the Col d’Allos, and the Col St.
Michel, saw the elimination of that most sporting of automobile managing directors, Col. Holbrook, who was the victim Of a broken half-shaft on his Triumph, when within striking distance of the finish. More serious was the accident which befell the German driver of a Rohr, Von Furstenberg. His car overturned on a double corner, pinning him beneath it, and he was rescued by following competitors from a most dangerous plight. Difficulty was experienced in obtaining medical aid, French doctors and ambulance showing no readiness to give their assistance. Finally the injured driver was taken to hospital by other competitors.
The arrival at Nice.
The arrival of the competitors at Nice was disappointing, especially to those who remember the splendid reception given to the cars at the end of the trial by the Italian officials and crowd at San Remo last year. No doubt the intense heat kept a good many spectators away, but the French club officials seemed wholly preoccupied with the Grand Prix race to be held on the next day. The results make interesting reading. Taking the Alpine Cup winners first, the 8 cylinder Fords were unopposed in Class I, and so only had to finish intact in order to win an Alpine Cup, which they did
with a loss of 54 points. The most meritorious team performance was that of the Hotchkiss trio, who only lost 36 points between them. These new 2.3 litre 4 cylinder cars were beautifully prepared and well driven by Bradley, Gas and Duhamel. The Adlers did very well In Group 3, as their engines were only just over 1,500 c.c. Their total loss of marks was 52, third best in the trial. The 6 cylinder Rileys acquitted themselves with real distinction in losing only 51 points, being another example of careful preparation, and making the second best team performance of any Group. The M.G. Magnas lost 87 points, and were fast and controllable on all the Passes.
The Teams who did not secure Alpine Cups, yet suCceded in finishing, also deserve special comment. In Group 2 the Mercedes-Benz lost 169 points, while in the next Group the Vauxhalls lost 248 point’s. This latter performance was really creditable, for the Belgian agents who entered the cars did so without any great hopes of winning the class, but with the intention of finishing the Trial. The cars were perfectly normal saloons, with heavy coachwork, and selling at a very low price. The Frazer Nash team had the worst possible luck, for out of a total loss of 97 marks Thorpes crash cost 92, so that without this accident the team would only have lost 5 points—by far and away the most amazing performance of the \,
trial. Poor Thorpe had everyone’s sympathy. The 1,500 c.c. Adlers lost 134 points, the Singers 209 points, and the Fiats 319 points. Turning to the Glacier Cups for Individual performances, the V8 Fords of Van der Menlen and Van Beek Calkoen showed a clear superiority over the rest of the group in tying for first place. Their loss of marks was only 7, against the 26 and 35 of the third and fourth men. In Group 2 Delmar (Bugatti) made a wonderful show in getting through the trial without the loss of a single mark. Bugattis did well in this group, Legre being second with I point, and Mlle. Helle-Nice third with 3. Carriere (Alfa Romeo) won
Group 3, also Without loss of marks, two Adlers being 2nd and 3rd with a score of 23 and 24 points. Jack Hobbs, partnered by Cameron Brown, carried off the Glacier Cup in Group 4, their score being only 3 marks ; two Frazer /Cashes being second and third with 7 and 9 points, driven by A. G. Gripper and A. L. Marshall. Finally, in Group 5, W. E. Belgrave was outstandingly good in winning the Glacier Cup with his 750 C.c. M.G. Midget against an entry of 1,100 c.c. cars. D. M. Healey (Brooklands Riley) was second.
Of the ladies, Miss Cha.mpney (Riley) thoroughly deserved her win, partnered by Miss Hobbs, but Mlle. Sajoux deserves special mention for her single handed run with a Delahaye saloon.