FRENCH POLISH AT DONINGTON
FRANCO-GERMAN DUEL IN THE TOURIST TROPHY—BRITISH SINGER PLACED FOURTH
FOREIGN ears swept the boardlin the first Tourist Trophy Race to be run in England. Previous races in the series, which began in 1905, had been held in the Isle of Man, and, since 1928, over the Ards circuit near Belfast. On Saturday, September 4th, the Royal Automobile Club had chosen Donington Park, near Derby, for the eighteenth event of the series, and G. Comotti. the Italian driver, scored a fine victory with a French Darracq at 68.7 m.p.h. The Frenchman, Le Begue, with another Darracq, was second, and third was the Siamese prince, ” B. Bira,” driving a Frazer-Nash-B.M.W. The first British car to finish was the Singer driven by J. D. Barnes, which came in fourth. A French Delahaye was fifth, and another Singer sixth. The circuit at Donington Park had been specially lengthened for the race, by a loop cutting out Starkey’s Corner, and running down to the new Melbourne Corner. Formerly 2 miles 971 yards in length, the circuit now measures 3 miles
220 yards. Attracted by the prestige of the race, and by fine weather, a record crowd for a car race at Donington attended, estimated at 30 000 strong. A considerable improvement for the benefit of spectators was that cars were not allowed to park within a few yards of the railings, thus allowing space to walk to and fro.
Unfortunately the powerful works team of Delahayes were non-starters, as the French firm had been busy winning the million-franc national prize at Montffiery. ” B. Bira’s ” Delahaye had also been put out by trouble during practice, but ” Bira ” took Henne’s place at the wheel of a Frazer-Nash-B.111.W. It was also a great disappointment that E. R. Hall’s Bentley had been withdrawn. Hall and Earl Howe are the only two drivers who had competed in every T.T. race since 1928, but Earl Howe, too, was not among the entrants. Twenty-one starters, however, made up a fine array. The race distance was 100 laps, or 312 miles. The handicapping was by credit laps and time, the Austin driven by Charles Dodson, twice winner of the T.T., receiving sixteen credit laps and 52 secs. from the three Darracqs, Martin and Brackenbury’s Lagonda, and
Malvin and Paul’s Delahaye. Actually, at twelve noon, the Singers and Fiats, each with three cars, were the first to start, with thirteen credit laps and 2 mins. 19 secs. advantag.% and these were followed by the white Frazer-Nash
workmanlike cars from the German factory.
Four B.M.W.s were on the line, but only three accelerated away to Red Gate Corner, just after the pits Dobbs’s carhad given one convulsive jerk, and then stopped. German mechanics rushed out from the pit, which Was under the expert direction of A. C. Bet-tern, once of Aston-Martin’s, and pushed the car in. Then they began the long task of dismantling the back axle, for something had snapped in the differential. Many wondered why so difficult and lengthy an operation was attempted, but the reason was that Dobbs’s car was one of the nominated team of three, for Pane had orders to win “or burst,” and was going out on his own. Pane it was, who, driving at terrific speed, led the race on handicap in the opening stages. The Franco-German
duel was on, for Sommer led the Darracq team, close behind on handicap, and occupying second, third and fourth places for the first half hour. In the next two positions came the other Frazer-NashB.M.W.s, driven by H. J. Aldington himself, head of the English company, and ” Bira.” Sommer was all out to pass Pane, and was going up to 130 m.p.h. on the steep downhill stretch leading to the new Melbourne Corner. Just as he seemed to have attained his object, he appeared over the crest of the rise on the return leg of the new loop with an ominous clatter in his engine. An exhaust valve had dropped into the cylinder, and the dashing Sommer was out. Comotti, however, who, by the way, had taken the place of the famous Louis Chiron in
the Darracq team, took up the challenge for the French cars, and after three quarters of an hour had wrested the lead on handicap from Pane. Meanwhile the leading British car was Maclure’s Riley, which had succeeded in passing Aldington’s B.M.W. to take fifth place. No sooner had this success been heralded than Maclure also had to
retire with valve trouble. Another car which was early in trouble was Gordini’s little Fiat, which stopped several times to change plugs, but thereafter ran well. Shortly after one o’clock Comotti had to stop for water, and lost the lead to his team mate, Le Begue. It was fine tactics how the Darracq drivers replaced one another in the lead at this stage, each waiting to step up should trouble occur. Thus at 1.15 the order on handicap was :—
1. B. Le Begue (Darraeq), 68.6 m.p.h.
2. A. F. P. lane (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.).
3. G. Comotti (Darracq).
4. “B. Bira ” (Frazer-Nash-13.M.W.).
5. It J. Aldington (Frazer-Nasii-B.M.W.).
6. J. Paul (Delabaye).
There were many skids at the new Melbourne Corner, but the B.M.W.s and Darracqs, with independent front suspension, were remarkably steady. Half an hour later Aldington had to stop to change plugs, and took the opportunity to refuel. Meanwhile Dobbs had been watching the deft German mechanics grovelling under his car for an hour and three-quarters, and. thought it time to put on his helmet and gloves. The work was being held up by tight splines on one of the axle shafts. It was not till another half hour had passed, however, that the work was done, and, amidst much clapping, Dobbs was able to enter
the fray, with two and a quarter hours lost I Skids continued to provide excitement all round the course. Scott’s H.R.G., which had arrived boiling at the pits, slid at Melbourne Corner, and Laird’s Morgan also went onto the grass at the same point. Paul with the Delahaye slid right off the course at Melbourne, but
recovered without stopping. Comotti, who was rapidly making up for his pit stop, held a nasty skid in Holly Wood. Gerrard with one of the Rileys had to brake furiously at Coppice Corner, at the far end of the long straight.
Then Fane came into his pit, and when he tried to restart, there was a nasty noise from the back axle. The tired mechanics, not long rid of Dobbs’s car, got out the jacks again, but this time there was no question about retirement,
and Pane’s brilliant drive had ended.
1. G. Comotti (Darraeq), 69.2 m.p.h.
2. R. Le Begue (Darrael).
3. “13. 131ra ” (Frazer-ash-B.M.W.).
4. J. Paul and M. Mongln (Delahaye).
5. J. D. Barnes (Singer).
6. A. C. Dobson (Riley). The Singer driven by Barnes was running steadily, but Dobson with the Riley had been checked several times by pit stops, for brake adjustment, and twice for more water. This put him out of the running, and at 3.15 Aldington had battled his way back to sixth place, while the Singer had got the advantage on handicap
over the Delahaye, now driven by Mongin. This car had many adventures, and skidded wildly at several points. Once at the Hairpin Mongin went right over the grass, while the spectators gasped. Eventually he called at his pit and poured water onto the brakes to cool them, so that a great cloud Of steam arose. Aldington’s recovery received a setback when his car began to misfire, loud reports coming from the exhaust as the car overran, and all plugs and jets were changed. This let Norman Black’s Singer into sixth place at 3.45 p.m., and from that time till the finish of the race the
six leaders on handicap did not alter. Aldington resumed at great speed, but the unfortunate Dobbs’s car developed trouble once more in the transmission, and had to retire.
The leading Darracqs had an advantage of nearly 6 mins. on handicap ahead of ” Bira,” but with ninety laps covered. Le Begue’s car began to sound unhappy,, and the driver pulled onto the grass on the hill running down to the Hairpin for a brief stop. He gat going again without losing second place.
Earlier in the race Le Begue had pat in a lap in 2 lulus. 35 sees. at 72.6 m.p.h., but Comotti, speeding up with victory in sight, accomplished his ninety-eighth round in 2 mins. 33 secs., at 73.5 m.p.h., fastest of the race. Two sensational incidents occurred during the final stages, the first when the consistently driven Lagonda of Brackenbury and Martin, which had been outpaced for sheer speed, but was putting up a fine show, lost a wheel at the Hairpin. Then Laird’s Morgan suffered a similar mishap, owing to a broken stub axle, just before Coppice Corner, but in neither case was the driver injured. On its ninety-ninth lap Gordini’s Fiat ran out of fuel, and the driver had just time to run to the pits from Melbourne Corner, fetch a replenishment can, and finish
within the time limit. Shapley-, with Mr. Dobson’s Fiat, however, had still one lap to cover when the race was declared ended.
1. G. Coifing’ (Darrafq), 68.7 m.p.h.
2. R. Le Begue (Darracq), 67.6 m.p.h.
3. “B. Biro, ” (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.) 66.1 m.p.h. 4. J. D. Barrifs (singer), 57.8
6. J. Paul and M. Mongin (Delah.aye), 65.0 m.p.h.
6. N. Black (Singer), 56.3 m.p.h.
7. A. C. Dobson (Riley), 62.8 m.p.h.
8. 11. ,T. Aldlngton (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.). 63.0 m.p.h.
9. F. It. Gerard (Riley), 61.8 m.p.h.
10. A. Gordini (Fiat), 54.4 m.p.h.
5,000 c.c. : G. Colima’ (Darracq).
2,000 c.c. : B. Biro,” (Frazer-Nash-B.M.W.
1,500 c.c. : A. C. Dobson (Riley).
1,100 c.o. : J. 1). Barnes (81w:er).
No Team finished the Rafe.