Classic Car Catalogue

Grand Prix de l'A.C.F.

French Grand Prix
21 June 1931
Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry race course
Race 2 of 3 in the 1931 European Championship


Entries and results:
No.   Driver: Car: Model: Engine:   Entrant: Result: Laps: Distance:
2 ? William "Bummer" Scott/Armstrong-Payne Delage 15-S-8 1.5 S-8 William B. Scott failure 21 262.5 km
4 Ferdinando Minoia / Goffredo Zehender Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 1.5 S-8 SA Alfa Romeo 06th 90 1126.167 km
6 Francois Givaudan/André Vagniez Bugatti T37A 1.5 S-4     dna - -
8 Kaye Don / ?           dna - -
10 Luigi Fagioli / Ernesto Maserati Maserati 26M 2.8 S-8 Officine A. Maserati failure 46 575.0 km
12 Jack Dunfee / Appleyard Sunbeam GP 2.0 S-6 Jack Dunfee failure 0 0 km
14   V. Monteiro / Deperi Demo-de Coucy   1.2 S-8   Vicomte Monteiro dna - -
16 André Boillot / Henri Stoffel Peugeot 174S 4.0 S-4 H. Stoffel dna - -
18 Giuseppe Campari / Baconin Borzacchini Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 2.3 S-8 SA Alfa Romeo 02nd 97 1215.122 km
20 René Dreyfus / Pietro Ghersi Maserati 26M 2.5 S-8 Officine A. Maserati 08th 88 1108.279 km
22 Georges d'Arnoux / Max Fourny Bugatti T35C 2.0 S-8 Conte d'Arnoux failure 67 837.5 km
24 René Ferrant / Louis Rigal Peugeot 174S 4.0 S-4 René Ferrant 09th 85 1070.508 km
26 –– Boris Ivanowski / Henri Stoffel Mercedes SSK 7.1 S-6 –– Boris Ivanowski failure 13 162.5 km
28 Albert Divo / Guy Bouriat Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti 07th 90 1125.000 km
30 Earl Howe / Brian Lewis Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Earl Howe 12th 78 975.938 km
32 Louis Chiron / Achille Varzi Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti 01st 100 1258.825 km
34 Emilio Eminente / Edmond Bourlier Bugatti T35B 2.3 S-8   Boris Ivanowski failure 69 862.5 km
36 Robert Sénéchal / Fretet Delage 15-S-8 1.5 S-8 Robert Sénéchal 05th 91 1142.558 km
38 Jean-Pierre Wimille / Jean Gaupillat Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Jean-Pierre Wimille failure 71 887.5 km
40 Henry Birkin / George Eyston Maserati 26M 2.5 S-8 Sir H. Birkin 04th 94 1185.763 km
42 William Grover-Williams / Caberto Conelli Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Automobiles Ettore Bugatti failure 66 825.0 km
44 Tazio Nuvolari / Giovanni Minozzi Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 2.3 S-8 SA Alfa Romeo 11th 84 1050.000 km
46 Clemente Biondetti / Luigi Parenti Maserati 26M 2.5 S-8 Officine A. Maserati 03rd 95 1187.535 km
48 Jean Pesato / Pierre Félix Alfa Romeo 6C-1750 1.8 S-6 Jean Pesato 10th 84 1056.538 km
50 ? Enzo Grimaldi / "Borgait" Bugatti T35C 2.0 S-8 Enzo Grimaldi failure 47 587.5 km
52 Marcel Lehoux / Philippe Étancelin Bugatti T51 2.3 S-8 Marcel Lehoux failure 16 200.0 km
54 "W. Williams"/Arthur Duray Bugatti T35C 2.0 S-8 "Williams" drove #42 - -
65 Edoard Brisson/Jean Cattaneo E.H. Brisson Stutz   5.3 S-8 Edoard Henri Brisson dna - -
58 Rudolf Caracciola / Otto Merz Mercedes SSKL 7.1 S-6 Rudolf Caracciola failure 38 475.0 km
60 ? Roger O. Williams/Tim Rose-Richards Delage 2LCV 2.0 V-12 William B. Scott dna - -
Fastest lap: Luigi Fagioli (Maserati) on lap 10 in 5m29.0s = 136.8 km/h (85.0 mph).
Winner's average speed: 125.883 km/h (78.223 mph)

The winner would be the car that covered the greatest distance within 10 hours. Due to the length of the race two drivers, a main driver and a relief driver had to be nominated for each car. During the race only one person was allowed in the car and driver exchanges were only allowed at the pits in the presence of an official. From 23 starters only 10 arrived at the finish, though a further two were classified by distance covered.

Start of the race.
Motor SportJuly 1931
LOUIS CHIRON and Achille Varzi, driving together on one of the new 2,300 c.c. Bugatti racing cars, won the sixteenth Grand Prix of the Automobile Club de France, which was first held at le Mans 25 years ago. The race this year was held on the road circuit at Montlhery, on Sunday, 21st June, and was a 10-hour event for unlimited racing cars. Guiseppe Campari and Borzacchini on a 2½-litre Alfa-Romeo were second, and Biondetti and Parenti on a Maserati third. Twelve finished out of twenty-three starters.
The original 30 entries were reduced to 23 by the absence, among others, of Andre Boillot, Brisson and Kaye Don. The starters consisted in the first place of the official teams, three Bugattis driven by Chiron, Varzi, Divo, Bouriat, Williams and Conelli; three Alfa-Romeos driven by Campari, Borzacchini, Minola, Zehender, Nuvolari and Minozzi; and three Maseratis driven by Ernesto Maserati, Fagioli, Dreyfus, Ghersi, Biondetti and Parenti; with the semi-official Mercedes driven by Caracciola and Merz.
In addition, private entries included another Mercedes driven by Ivanowski and Stoffel; half a dozen more Bugattis driven by d'Amoux and Max Fourny, Wimille and Gaupillat, Lord Howe and B. E. Lewis, Eminente and Bourlier, Grimaldi and Bourgait and Lehoux and Etancelin; another Maserati driven by H. R. S. Birkin and G. E. T. Eyston; another Alfa-Romeo of the 1,750 c.c. type driven by Pesato and Felix ; three 1,500 c.c. 1927 G.P. Delages driven by Robert Senechal and Fiettet, Scott and Payne, and R. D. Williams and Richards; a Sunbeam of 1925 G.P. type driven by Dunfee and Appleyard; and a Peugeot driven by Ferrant and Louis Rigal.
The start was given at 8 a.m., and we expected to see a Bugatti or an Alfa-Romeo complete the opening lap first. Instead, as a surprise the leader was Fagioli on the Maserati and the others in order were Dreyfus (Maserati), Chiron (Bugatti), Williams (Bugatti), Lehoux (Bugatti), Divo (Bugatti), Campari (Alfa-Romeo), and Caracciola (Mercedes). For three laps Fagioli led, and then on the fourth Chiron passed him and took the lead. On the seventh lap, however, Fagioli regained it, and on the twelfth proceeded to break the lap record at 85.5 m.p.h. At the end of the first hour the order was as follows :—
1. Fagiola (Maserati), 133 km. 194.
2. Chiron (Bugatti), 132 km. 900.
3. Dreyfus (Maserati), 139 km. 882.
4. Divo (Bugatti), 130 km. 576.
5. Williams (Bugatti), 130 km. 310.
6. Lehoux (Bugatti).
7. Campari (Alfa-Romeo).
Dunfee's Sunbeam had fallen out on the first lap with a broken universal joint, and on the thirteenth lap Ivanowski's Mercedes retired near the Conard bends with supercharger trouble, and was quickly followed by Lehoux's Bugatti. This last withdrawal let Campari's Alfa-Romeo up into sixth place, and it was now closely followed by its two companions of the official team.
Soon after covering 150 kilometres, Chiron passed Fagioli and captured the lead for Bugatti, which he was never to lose again. At the end of the second hour practically all the cars came in to refuel and to change tyres, but the order of the leaders was unchanged. It was announced, however, that Scott's Delage had retired. During the fourth hour E. Maserati on Fagioli's Maserati fell steadily back, and Minozzi on the Alfa-Romeo made a great spurt. At the end of the fourth lap the order was as follows :
1. Chiron and Varzi (Bugatti), 526 km. 806.
2. Dreyfus and Ghersi (Maserati), 518 km. 386.
3. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 515 km. 876.
4. Nuvolari and Minozzi (AlfaRomeo) 515 km. 482.
5. Williams and Conelli (Bugatti) 511 km. 797.
6. Campari and Borzacchini Alfa-Romeo.
During the fifth hour Dreyfus' Maserati fell steadily back to sixth position, and Nuvolari's Alfa-Romeo passed Divo's Bugatti and became second. The issue, however, was confused by stops for replenishments, and shortly afterwards the three official Bugattis were in the first three places. At about this time Caracciola's Mercedes retired, like Ivanowski's, with supercharger trouble, and a little later Fagioli's Maserati was also withdrawn. After five hours' running, half way through the race, the order was as follows :—
1. Chiron and Varzi (Bugatti), 651 km. 889.
2. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 639 km. 660.
3. Dreyfus and Ghersi (Maserati), 635 km. 635.
4. Williams and Conelli (Bugatti) 634 km. 846.
5. Nuvolari and Minozzi (Alfa-Romeo), 612 km. 680.
6. Minoia. and Zehender (AlfaRomeo).
During the sixth hour the Bugatti and the Alfa-Romeo both passed the Maserati, and the Bugatti team was again in the first three places. During the seventh hour, however, the Bugatti driven by Williams and Conelli fell out, and was quickly followed by the three privately owned Bugattis driven by Grimaldi and Borgait. Eminente and Bourlier, and d'Amoux and Fourny. Nuvolari's Alfa thus became third, but shortly afterwards it made a prolonged stop at the pits and fell back a long way. As compensation, however, the Campari-Borzacchini team was creeping up, and at the end of the eighth hour the order was as follows:
1. Chiron and Varzi (Bugatti), 1,025 km. 632.
2. Divo and Bouriat (Bugatti), 1,016 km. 474.
3. Campari and Borzacchini (Alfa-Romeo), 963 km. 204.
4. Birkin and Eyston (Maserati), 963 km. 034.
5. Nuvolari and Minozzi (Alfa-Romeo), 958 km. 992.
6. Biondetti and Parenti (Maserati).
During the ninth hour there was no great change in the order, but 40 minutes from the end Divo's Bugatti failed to reappear and its withdrawal was announced. This let Campari's Alfa-Romeo up into second place, but there was no catching the Bugatti, now driven by Varzi, which finally received the yellow flag of victory amid much applause. Public interest in the race was enormous, and, held under almost ideal weather conditions, it proved to be one of the best events so far run off this season. One very noticeable feature was the large number of visitors from other countries amongst the spectators including a large contingent from England.

Alfa Romeo (Ferdinando Minoia / Goffredo Zehender) and Bugatti (Jean-Pierre Wimille / Jean Gaupillat).