Motor SportAugust 1933
CLOSE RACING IN THE BELGIAN G.P.
VICTORY FOR NUVOLARI, THIS TIME ON A MASERATI.
OFFICIAL BUGATTIS OF VARZI AND DREYFUS SECOND AND THIRD.
THE Royal Automobile Club of Belgium are to be congratulated upon staging a sensational "come-back" of the Belgian Grand Prix. Last year, it will be remembered, the race clashed with others with the result that it had to be abandoned through lack of entries. Not so the race held on Jnly 9th. The mere fact that the official Bugatti team of Varzi, Dreyfus and Williams was to do battle with the cars of the Scuderia Ferrari driven by Nuvolari, Borzacchini and Siena was enough to ensure a dramatic race. Added to this primary duel however, were such redoubtable names as Chiron, Sommer and the brilliant young Algerian, Guy Moll, all on Alfa Romeos; Lehoux with his Bugatti; and Zehender on a single seater Maserati. A field calculated to provide a spectacle of motor-racing at its best.
Considerable excitement was aroused a few days before the race by a rumour that the "works" Bugattis would be the long-awaited 2,800 c.c. cars. One of these cars was almost ready for the French Grand Prix, and it was confidently asserted that the whole team of these would run at Spa. More cautious observers, remembering the proverbial uncertainty of the Molsheim manufacturer's plans, decided to reserve their judgment. And they were right, for it was the 2,300 c.c. cars which finally started after all.
A striking change took place in the Ferrari team. Nuvolari was given one of the single-seater 3,000 c.c. Maseratis, but after a little practice with the car, he sent it into the Imperia works near Spa for some alterations. There the chassis was strengthened up to withstand the stresses of high-speed cornering, and Nuvolari declared himself satisfied with the result.
The practices were an indication of the struggle that was to take place during the race itself. Chiron has not had a good win this year in a Grand Prix, and the fact that he had entered for and won the 24 hours touring race the week before on the same circuit hinted at his determination to get as much practice as possible on the difficult Francorchamps circuit. On the day before the race he made the fastest lap in 6m. 7s., but Nuvolari was not far behind with 6m. 9s. These two were much faster than the rest, headed by Lehoux (6m. 17s.), Williams (6m. 24 s.), Dreyfus (6m. 25s.), Zehender (6m. 26s.) and Varzi (6m. 52s.). The last named seemed to be purposely holding his car in hand, in order not to reveal its true speed.
The draw for starting positions gave the following results, the cars being drawn up in threes and twos in this order: Chiron (Alfa Romeo), Lehoux (Bugatti), Moll (Alfa Romeo), Sommer (Alfa Romeo), Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo), Siena (Alfa Romeo), Varzi (Bugatti), Williams (Bugatti), Dreyfus (Bugatti), Marciewicz (Bugatti), Nuvolari (Maserati) and Zehender (Maserati).
Sharp at 1 o'clock the cars were sent away on their 372 mile journey. Position at the start counts for a good deal at Spa, for the road is hardly ever straight. Borzacchini made the best getaway, although he was in the second row, and somehow got ahead of Chiron and Dreyfus. Nuvolari was in the last row, but showed amazing skill in winding his way through the pack, and when the cars appeared in sight at the end of the first lap he was actually in the lead! No wonder the crowd roared!
Hot on his heels came Borzacchini, Chiron, Varzi, Dreyfus, Siena, Lehoux, Zehender, and Moll. Williams came straight into the pits, and set about changing plugs. Marciewicz was already a good way behind the rest.
Nuvolari (Maserati No. 22) chasing Williams (Bugatti No. 16) round a bend.
Nuvolari was in astonishing form. Try as they might, Borzacchini and Chiron could not prevent the slim Maserati from gradually drawing ahead, and after 100 kilometres Nuvolari led by 17 seconds. Only one second separated the second and third man, and they in turn were 45 seconds ahead of Varzi, who was closely followed by Lehoux. Poor Williams was again in trouble with his plugs and brought his Bugatti into the pits again on the 4th lap. These two stops cost him 4 valuable minutes, but he set off at great speed in the hope that the leaders might crack up.
After 200 kilometres, or one-third of the distance, the order was as follows:
1. Nuvolari (Maserati), 1h. 22m. 2s.
2. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo), 1h. 22m. 38s.
3. Chiron (Alfa Romeo), 1h. 22m. 52s.
4. Varzi (Bugatti), 1h. 24m. 13s.
5. Lehoux (Bugatti), 1h. 24m. 31s.
6. Dreyfus (Bugatti), 1h. 25m. 13s.
7. Siena (Alfa Romeo), 1h. 25m. 19s.
8. Moll (Alfa Romeo), 1h. 25m. 48s.
9. Williams (Bugatti), 1h. 28m. 34s.
10. Sommer (Alfa Romeo), 1h. 31m. 40s.
11. Marciewicz (Bugatti), a long way behind.
Borzacchini was the first to come in to the pits for refuelling. He, in common with all the other drivers, deemed it advisable to change the rear wheels as well as to fill up, and he accomplished the whole operation in 2m. 50s. One after another the cars came in, and the following times elapsed before the various drivers got away: Sommer 1m. 2s.; Dreyfus, 1m. 32s.; Lehoux, 1m. 33s.; Williams, 1m. 41s.; Varzi, 1m. 41s.; Moll, 2m. 15s.; Borzacchini, 2m. 50s.; Chiron, 2m. 58s.; and Nuvolari, who changed all four wheels, 3 minutes.
At this stage the order naturally became a little confused, for a brief stop by a leader was sufficient for first place to change hands. Chiron was at the head of the field for some time when Nuvolari and Borzacchini came in to refuel, but soon afterwards, when he himself had stopped and got going again, the back axle of his Alfa Romeo gave out and he had to retire, bitterly disappointed. Alfa Romeos were not showing up well, for at the same time young Guy Moll had to withdraw his Alfa Romeo with gear box trouble, after making two calls at his pit for investigation.
Accordingly, at the 400 kilometres mark, or 2/3rds of the total distance, the order was:
1. Nuvolari (Maserati), 2h. 47m. 39s.
2. Varzi (Bugatti), 2h. 49m. 24s.
3. Dreyfus (Bugatti), 2h. 51m. 1s.
4. Lehoux (Bugatti), 2h. 51m. 27s.
5. Siena (Alfa Romeo), 2h. 53m. 50s.
6. Williams (Bugatti), 2h. 55m. 30s.
7. Sommer (Alfa Romeo), 3h. 15m. 8s.
The difficult nature of the circuit was having its effect on the cars, the repeated gear changes, heavy braking and severe corners stressing the chassis to the utmost. Borzacchini was the next casualty with a broken con-rod, and his retirement left Siena's and Sommer's Alfa Romeos as the only representatives of the Milanese firm. Zehender went out with transmission trouble on his single seater Maserati. Accidents—and there have been more accidents per kilometre on the Francorchamps circuit than any other course—were practically unknown this year, but Marciewicz spoiled the good record by overturning on a corner, luckily without injury.
The fastest laps accomplished by the various competitors will give a true indication of the form shown by drivers during the race. Nuvolari, of course, was the fastest, and made a new record with a time of 6m. 1s., at an average of 93 m.p.h. Then came Borzacchini, 6m. 3s., followed by Dreyfus 6m. 4s.; Varzi, 6m. 6s.; Chiron, 6m. 7s.; Lehoux and Siena, 6m. 12s.; Williams and Moll, 6m. 15s.; Zehender, 6m. 20s.; Sommer, 6m. 37s.; and Marciewicz, 7m. 25s.
Nuvolari continued to lap at high speed, and was now a certain winner, barring trouble. He had a clear 2 minutes lead over Varzi, who had been delayed by having to change a wheel, which he accomplished in the amazing time of 14 seconds! Sommer's Alfa Romeo stood at the pits for 7m. 12s., in making two stops to mend a leaking petrol pipe. Williams had to call twice for plugs, taking 4 minutes, so that altogether trouble was fairly rife.
For the last 100 kilometres no change took place in the order. Nuvolari was absolutely unassailable, and steadily piled up his lead. Lehoux after a fine display
of consistent driving, was handicapped for the last half of the race by "losing" third gear, and would have undoubtedly finished in a better position but for this misfortune.
40 laps of the 14.900 km. circuit. Total distance 596 kilometres.
1. Nuvolari (Maserati 3,000 c.c.), 4h. 9m. 11s., 89.75 m.p.h.
2. Varzi (Bugatti 2,300 c.c.), 4h. 12m. 26s.
3. Dreyfus (Bugatti 2,300 c.c.), 4h. 13m.
4. Lehoux (Bugatti 2,300 c.c.), 4h. 13m. 28s.
5. Siena (Alfa Romeo 2,300 c.c.), 4h. 17m. 10s.
6. Williams (Bugatti 2,300 c.c.), 1 lap.
7. Sommer (Alfa Romeo 2,300 c.c.) 5 laps.