Motor SportJune 1933
VARZI WINS THE SECOND ROUND
ONLY ONE TENTH OF A SECOND BETWEEN VARZI (BUGATTI) AND NUVOLARI (ALFA ROMEO) IN THE TRIPOLI G.P.
SIR HENRY BIRKIN (MASERATI) FINISHES THIRD AFTER LEADING FOR SOME DISTANCE.
The Grand Prix of Tripoli, organised for the first time since 1930, was this year marked by a titanic struggle between Varzi (Bugatti) and Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo). The two had met at Monaco when Varzi just won, and the race at Tripoli was in the nature of a 'return'.
Additional interest was given to the race this year by a sweepstake, organised on the lines of the Irish sweepstake with the exception that there was only one 'unit'. Altogether, a sum of 15 million lire was subscribed, the first prize being over three million, million and the third being over 800,000 lira.
Judging by the colossal crowd which lined the course at the start, the future of the Grand Prix of Tripoli is assured. The scene at the start was a most impressive one, and a few minutes after three o'clock Marshall Badoglio, Governor of Tripoli, gave the signal to start. The cars were lined up in rows of four, and an initial lead was gained by Gazzabini (Alfa Romeo). His lead was short-lived, however, for a group of faster cars soon enveloped him, and to the joy of the few Englishmen present, it was seen that Sir Henry Birkin had forged his way to the head of the bunch of bright red cars.
Although the Mellaha circuit measures 13 kilometres, it is tremendously fast, and in a very short time the cars appeared once more at the end of their first lap. Birkin, handling his new Maserati with consummate skill, was in the lead, followed by a howling pack composed of Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo), Campari (Maserati), Varzi Bugatti), Fagioli (Maserati), Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo), Biondetti (B.M.) Zehender (Maserati), Premoli (B.M.), Hartmann (Bugatti), Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo) and a straggling group of slower machines.
Birkin continued to give a masterly display of driving, and held his lead for four laps. Then the veteran Campari put his foot down well and truly, passed the astonished Nuvolari, and on the fifth lap took the lead from the Englishman. As the cars came past the pits Campari (Maserati) led, having covered 65.5 kilometres in 22 min. 58 sec.; Birkin (Maserati) was second, 9 sec. behind; Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) was 5 sec. later than Birkin, and he was followed by Varzi (Bugatti), Zehender (Maserati) and Fagioli (Maserati).
Some idea of the speed at which the race was being run can be gauged by the fact that Campari, who led at the end of 10 laps, had covered the 131 kilometres at an average of roughly 107m.p.h. Nuvolari had by this time got ahead of Birkin, but the English driver was courageously sticking to his guns and was only a few yards behind.
On the 14th lap Campari pulled into the pits in order to refuel, he was joined by Fagioli. This stop gave Nuvolari the lead, and half-distance the order was:
Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo), 1 hr. 9 min.
Birkin (Maserati), 1 hr. 9 min. 10 sec.
Varzi (Bugatti), 1 hr. 9 min. 19 sec.
Campari (Maserati), 2 min. later.
Zehender (Maserati), 2 min. later.
Sir Henry Birkin's chances of victory were spoiled by his having to refuel on the 16th lap, and although this operation was carried out the usual rapid manner, both Campari and Zehender had slipped by when he got going again. Then Campari had to stop again to replenish his oil tank which had come loose in its seating. After 15 minutes delay while much rope was used to lash the tank securely, Campari started once more, but after a few laps he retired.
At 20 laps Nuvolari still led, but Varzi was now right on his tail. The Bugatti driver was giving a model display of cool driving, appearing obvious of the existence of other competitors, and concentrating on his polished handling of his own car.
On the 25th lap a shout went up when it was seen that Varzi had gained the lead. Nuvolari had evidently had a setback, for he was 20 seconds behind. On the next lap he drove like a demon and caught up the Bugatti. Nearer and nearer drew the red Alfa Romeo, each lap cutting down the French car's lead by a few feet. The crowd were wild with excitement, and a terrific roar was heard when, at the end of the 29th lap, Nuvolari came by the stands in the lead. As they disappeared on the last lap the spectators could hardly contain themselves, and craned their necks to see the cars come into sight for the finish. From a distance the two cars looked level, and they roared towards the finishing line almost abreast. But the blue car was slightly ahead and to the sound of a tremendous cheer Varzi crossed the line barely a length ahead of his rival.
Henry Birkin gave a magnificent performance in finishing third and, but for his pit stop, would have been nearer the leaders then his time indicated. Zehender had the misfortune to retire on his last lap.
1928. Nuvolari (Bugatti), 100.870 k.p.h.
1929. Brilli-Peri (Talbot), 143.846 k.p.h.
1930. Borzacchini (Maserati 16 cyl.), 146.539 k.p.h.
1931. Race not held.
1932. Race not held.
Race run on the circuit of Mellaha,
13 km. 100 in length.
Length of the race: 30 laps, or 393 kilometres.
Lap record: 1933, Varzi (Bugatti), 4m. 26 4/5s. 176 k.p.h.
1. Varzi (Bugatti) 2 hr. 19 min. 51 1/10 sec. - 168.598 k.p.h.
2. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) 2 hr. 19 min. 51 2/10 sec.
3. Sir H. Birkin (Maserati) 2 hr. 21 min. 23 sec.
4. Battilana (unspecified) 2 hr. 21 min. 57 sec.
5. Taruffi (Alfa Romeo).
6. Balestrero (Alfa Romeo).
7. Ghersi (Bugatti).
8. Battaglia (unspecified) 4 laps
9. Hartmann (Bugatti) 4 laps
10. Castelbarco (Alfa Romeo) 4 laps
11. Matrullo (Maserati) 5 laps
12. Cucinotta (Talbot) 5 laps
13. Barbieri (Maserati) 6 laps
The first three cars all used Dunlop tyres.