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Divo (Talbot)Chiron (Bugatti)Eyston (Bugatti)

ACF - LA COURSE FORMULA LIBRE

Linas-Montlhéry - Paris (F), 2 July 1927 (Saturday).
10 laps x 12.5 km (7.8 mi) = 125 km (77.7 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Henry de CourcellesA. GuyotGuyotSpeciale1.5S-6
4Albert DivoAutomobiles TalbotTalbotGPLB1.5S-8
6André DubonnetA. DubonnetBugattiT35C2.0S-8DNA - did not appear
8Louis WagnerL. WagnerSunbeam4.0V-12
10Henry de CourcellesA. GuyotGuyotSpeciale1.5S-6DNA - did not appear
12"Williams"W. WilliamsSunbeam4.0V-12
14Colette SolomonC. SolomonBugattiT352.0S-8DNA - did not appear
16Louis ChironSociété NerkaBugattiT35B2.3S-8
18Albertine DerancourtMadame A. DerancourtSalmson1.1S-4
20George EystonG.E.T. EystonBugattiT35C2.0S-8


Divo wins the ACF Formula Libre Race

by Hans Etzrodt
There were just seven cars in the 125 km ACF Formule libre Race, a dull event during a rainy day. The race was won by Albert Divo with the 1500 Grand Prix Talbot beating the large Bugattis of Chiron and Eyston. Sadly Henry de Courcelles died in a horrific crash when in the rain his Guyot race car at full speed hit a tree and shattered to pieces. Madame Derancourt (Salmson) finished fourth while the two Sunbeams of Wagner and Williams retired.
The Automobile Club de France announced that in 1927 three races were to be held, the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F., the Coupe de la Commission Sportive, and La Course Formula Libre. The Formula Libre race and the race for the Cup of the Sporting Commission took place on Saturday before the Grand Prix which was staged on Sunday.
      The libre race went over 10 laps of the 12.5 km circuit, a total of 125 km. The prize money for first place was 10.000 fr. (ACF) and 15.000 fr. (Dewandre-Repusseau); second place was 10.000 fr. (ACF) and 5.000 fr. (Dewandre-Repusseau) and third place was 5.000 fr. (ACF).
Entries:
Just 10 entries were received but at the start there were only seven cars. Henry de Courcelles drove a 1500 six-cylinder Burt McCollum-engined Guyot entered by Albert Guyot, similar to the one raced in 1926 at Indianapolis. Albert Divo drove one of the 1500 Grand Prix Talbots. Two green 4-liter 12-cylinder s/c Sunbeams from 1926 Southport records were entered for Wagner and Williams. The Nerka spark plug company entered a 2.3-liter Bugatti for Louis Chiron and George Eyston raced a 2000 Bugatti while Madame "Albertine"Derancourt drove a 1100 Grand Prix Salmson. Her real name was Marie-Léonie Derancourt but she used the name "Albertine".
Race:
It had rained since early morning, on a wet cold day. Very few spectators appeared at the race track where they each had to pay between 50 and 1,000 francs for admission. The seven cars lined up on the grid: #2 Henry de Courcelles (Guyot), #4 Albert Divo (Talbot), #8 Louis Wagner (Sunbeam), #12 "Williams" (Sunbeam), #16 Louis Chiron (Bugatti), #18 Madame Albertine Derancourt (Salmson) and #20 George Eyston (Bugatti).
 
Grid not available

The start had been planned for 10:00 AM, but perhaps in the hope of avoiding some of the rain, the organizers announced that the start would be delayed by about 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes actually lasted about three quarters of an hour when under streaming rain the seven cars started.
      Williams in the Sunbeam immediately took the lead and finished the first lap in 6m31s at an average speed of 115.080 km/h. Divo's Talbot followed about 100 meters behind, ahead of Chiron, Eyston, de Courcelles and Mme Derancourt. Wagner retired at post number 10, when the accelerator of his Sunbeam broke.
      On the second lap Divo passed the Sunbeam of Williams with a lap of 6m8s at 121.951 km/h while his race time after two laps was12m45s at 117.400 km/h. The order after 2 laps was Divo (Talbot), Wagner (Sunbeam), Chiron (Bugatti), Eyston (Bugatti), de Courcelles (Guyot) and Derancourt (Salmson) who had already been lapped.
      After the third lap Divo's average race speed had increased to 119.150 km/h. Only five cars were left in the race after Williams retired the second Sunbeam with a seized transmission gear. The order was Divo, Chiron, Eyston, de Courcelles and Derancourt.
      On lap four Divo drove the fastest lap of the race in 6m07s at 122.615 km/h while his race speed had increased to 120.080 km/h, leading Chiron and Eyston in the next positions. In fourth place was de Courselles, who passed the grandstand at full throttle but his car did not seem to hold the track very well, wobbling from side to side. He reached the straight section of the road circuit at full speed, still wobbling, when after about 200 meters a little before the Sainte-Eutrope castle, his car left the road at about 190 km/h hitting a tree. The colossal impact caused the car to shatter into pieces. The engine ripped from the chassis landing on the other side of the race track, the radiator ripped apart, the wheels crushed while the unfortunate driver lay motionless on the road, his skull crushed and his legs broken. An Ambulance arrived immediately, recovering his corpse which was transported to the Vaugirad Hospital. Commissioners waved a yellow flag, then a white one. Divo arrived very fast but was just able to avoid the ambulance and got through safely. Soon the loudspeaker announced that an accident had occurred and that the condition of de Courcelles was rather serious. The ambulance left the site and drove on the track but in opposite direction towards the oncoming cars creating a very dangerous situation. Chiron passed at greater speed than before in front of the grandstand, very determined to reduce the gap to Divo. Meanwhile, the ambulance returned to the grandstand against the oncoming cars crossing the track to go to the first aid station. The blue flag was waved too late. Chiron, anticipated this with admirable coolness, and instead of continuing towards the road circuit, he left the track at the last moment, escaping to the banking of the inner speed track to prevent a terrible accident. Chiron stopped, turned, and resumed the road circuit, resulting in a loss of more than half a minute and perhaps the race itself, since at the finish he was only 32 seconds behind the winner. The poor handling of the incident harmed the reputation of the organizers of the meeting.
      After lap six Divo's time was 37m27s at 120.521 km/h, followed by Chiron in 37m40s and Eyston in 39m48s. It was on the following lap that Chiron lost so much time avoiding a collision with the ambulance. After lap eight Divo's time was 49m47s at 120.522 km/h and after the next lap his time was 55m03s at 120.428 km/h. After ten laps the 125 km were covered and Divo crossed the line amid the ovations and bravos as the winner in 1h02m20.4s at 120.307 km/h average speed. The Bugattis of Chiron and Eyston finished second and third while Madame Derancourt in the Salmson finished fourth, two laps behind.
      The rain, which had slowed for a few moments, resumed with more strength, when it was announced that there would be an interval of about one hour before the Coupe de la Commission sportive would be started.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.4Albert DivoAutomobiles TalbotTalbotGPLB1.5S-8101h02m20.4s
2.16Louis ChironSociété NerkaBugattiT35B2.3S-8101h02m52.2s + 31.8s
3.20George EystonG.E.T. EystonBugattiT35C2.0S-8101h06m09.6s + 3m49.2s
4.18Albertine DerancourtMadame A. DerancourtSalmson1.1S-481h23m28.2s
DNF2Henry de CourcellesA. GuyotGuyotSpeciale1.5S-63fatal crash
DNF8"Williams"W. WilliamsSunbeam4.9V-123transmission
DNF12Louis WagnerL. WagnerSunbeam4.9V-120accelerator
Fastest lap: Albert Divo (Talbot) on lap 4 in 6m07s = 122.6 km/h (76.2 mph).
Winner's average speed: 120.3 km/h (74.5 mph).
Weather: raining
In retrospect:
Henry de Courcelles, who died on the second of July, 1927 at Montlhéry, was an accomplished race driver and a former fighter pilot known in aviation for his skill and ability. During the war as a fighter pilot he had been one of the first to fly the Sopwith when this aircraft appeared with the French army. De Courcelles had earned a military medal and several decorations. "Le Cou", as his friends called him, was a delightful comrade, adored by his close friends and always ready to support those who deserved it. He successfully raced with Lorraine-Dietrich at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing in eighth place in 1923, third in 1924, winning with André Rossignol in 1925 and coming second in 1926. He held the record of Paris-Deauville and triumphed in a number of other events. The Sportsman de Courcelles was one of the most enthusiastic race drivers. His old friendship with Albert Guyot, who entrusted de Courcelles with one of his cars, led to his death. Apart from his racing he was one of the most savvy and kind traders in the automotive world. For a long time he was a representative of D.F.P. cars and he had made his automobile accessory store at Champs-Elysées a center where many Parisian drivers and sportsmen met. He had recently taken over the service of sports car sales in a large garage run by one of his friends. Henry de Courcelles was killed at the age of thirty-eight, in the full bloom of his life. His tragic passing was felt strongly by the entire sporting world and his close friends would always keep alive the dear memory of him.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Automobil Motorsport, Budapest
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
L'AUTO, Paris
La Vie Automobile, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Omnia, Paris


Boillot (Peugeot)Doré (Corre La Licorne)Goux (Bugatti)

COUPE DE LA COMMISSION SPORTIVE

Linas-Montlhéry - Paris (F), 2 July 1927 (Saturday).
32 laps x 12.5 km (7.8 mi) = 400 km (248.5 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2Marcel VioletM. VioletLeroy0.7S-4
4André BoillotA. BoillotPeugeot I1762.4S-4
6André DubonnetAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-4
8Maurice RostM. RostGeorges Irat2.0S-4
10Georges CasseSM SalmsonSalmson I1.2S-4
12PerrotBollack, Netter et CieLombardAL21.1S-4
14Henri BillietBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap1.1S-4
16Michel DoréM. DoréCorre La Licorne1.5S-6
18de Coucyde CoucyLescotDNA - Did not appear
20Charles MontierC. MontierMontier I2.9S-4
22Louis RigalL. RigalPeugeot II1762.4S-4
24Jules GouxAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-4
26Pierre GoutteSM SalmsonSalmson II1.5S-4
28J.P. RogerBollack, Netter et CieLombard1.1S-4
30Ms. Violette MorrisBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap1.1S-4
32Ferdinand MontierF. Montier, filsMontier II2.9S-4
34Caberto ConelliAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-4
36Lucien DesvauxBollack, Netter et CieLombard1.1S-4
38Jean GaupillatBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap1.1S-4


Boillot wins the Coupe de la Commission Sportive

by Hans Etzrodt
The ACF Sporting Commission staged this race to a fuel saving formula. From the 18 starters Boillot (Peugeot) took the lead on the third lap and stayed there until the finish. Second place alternated between the Salmsons of Casse and Goutte. Doré with the Corre La Licorne remained initially in second, third and fourth positions but was passed by the Bugattis of Conelli and Goux by half distance. Near the end Doré made a final spurt passing cars ahead of him and almost caught Boilot's Peugeot, finishing just over a second behind. Goux's Bugatti finished third, ahead of Goutte's Salmson, Conelli's Bugatti, Casse in another Salmson, Rost's Georges Irat, Dubonnet's Bugatti, the Montiers of C. Montier and F. Montier and last Violette Morris in the BNC. Seven cars retired but fortunately none crashed during the wet race.
The Automobile Club de France held three races in 1927, the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F., La Course Formula Libre and the Coupe de la Commission Sportive. The Formula Libre race on Saturday morning was won by Albert Divo in a 1500cc Grand Prix Talbot and one hour later the Coupe de la Commission Sportive was started. (Twenty years earlier on July, 2nd 1907 the ACF Sporting Commisssion had staged an event at Dieppe also under the title Coupe de la Commission Sportive with regulations limiting the fuel consumption to 30 liters for 100 km). For the 1927 race the ACF again specified consumption, limited to 44 kg of fuel and oil, including gearbox oil, for this 400 km race. Any car could compete in this basically a Formula Libre race.
Entries:
There were 18 entries. Peugeot had built two special cars for this unusual race using a 2,445cc, 4-cylinder sleeve-valve Knight engine. Once these cars had started the race, the gearbox was eliminated by using a direct drive, so gearbox oil was unnecesary. The steering, suspension and exhaust were housed within the chassis frame, which was covered by thin aluminum, and the entire body was slipstreamed.
      Bugatti entered three T37A cars with 4-cylinder 1500cc supercharged engines while the Salmson team arrived with two 4-cylinder cars, one with a 1200cc engine, the other 1500cc. There were two Montier Specials with 2,904cc, 4-cylinder Ford engines. The smallest car was the Leroy which had a flat 4-cylinder two-stroke engine of just 735cc. The 1500cc Corre La Licorne, driven by Michael Doré, had an unsupercharged six-cylinder twin OHC engine, 60 x 88, with two valves per cylinder, a Solex carburetor, Delco ignition and four-wheel brakes.
      Bollack, Netter et Cie entered three 1100cc BNCs with supercharged 4-cylinder S.C.A.P. engines. The same company also entered three 1100cc Lombards which they had recently built for André Lombard, the first prototypes, the AL1, and two AL2s, which were "tank" bodied aerodynamic models powered by a 4-cylinder twin-overhead cam engine of 1,083cc, located next to the driver. All listed entries are shown at the beginning of this report.
Race:
After the libre race in the morning there was an interval of about one hour before the Coupe de la Commission Sportive was planned to be started, at 1:00 PM. The intermittent rain showers continued during the race on this cold Saturday and very few spectators appeared at the race track.
 
Cars parked in line on side of the road

Before the start the cars were brought from the parc fermé to the grid where they were parked on one side of the road while the drivers had to position themselves on the opposite side of the track. The engines of the cars had to be switched off. Only two minutes before the start, a signal was given, and the drivers were allowed to go to their cars where mechanics started the engines. After that the actual start took place. Both Peugeots and Dubonnet's Bugatti would not fire up. Eventually Boillot's Peugeot started, followed by Dubonnet's Bugatti. Violette Morris also had a problem for several minutes before she could start her BNC. The Peugeot of Rigal was delayed by over eight minutes.
      After the first lap Casse's Salmson was leading in 7m58s at 94.142 km/h average speed with his teammate Goutte second and Doré's Corre La Licorne in third place. They were followed by Boillot (Peugeot), Rost (Georges Irat), Gaupillat (BNC), Conelli (Bugatti), Billiet (BNC), C. Montier (Montier), Goux (Bugatti), Violet (Leroy), Morris (BNC), Desvaux (Lombard), Perrot (Lombard), Dubonnet (Bugatti), F. Montier (Montier), Roger (Lombard) and Rigal (Peugeot). At the end of the lap the three Lombards stopped and were withdrawn. The cars had only recently been built and were not yet race ready, so they made just one lap to collect their starting money.
      After the second lap Goutte in the faster 1500cc Salmson had taken the lead in 15m22s at 97.613 km/h average speed, followed by Boillot's Peugeot who advanced to second place. Doré's Corre La Licorne remained third and Casse had dropped to fourth place. Goux (Bugatti) had gained three positions to seventh and Gaupillat had fallen behind, retiring his BNC. At the end of lap three Boillot's Peugeot was leading in 22m18s at 100.810 km/h average speed, Goutte was second, Doré third, followed by Casse, Conelli, Rost, Goux, C. Montier, Dubonnet and Morris in tenth place. Billiet (BNC) dropped out after losing his oil. After five laps Boilot was leading at an average speed of 102.509 km/h. Conelli had moved from seventh on the first lap to second place on lap 10. At the completion of 125 kilometers the field was in the following order after 10 laps:
1.Boillot (Peugeot)1h13m09s
2.Conelli (Bugatti)1h14m48s
3.Goutte (Salmson)1h14m53s
4.Doré (Corre La Licorne)
5.Goux (Bugatti)
6.Rost (Georges Irat)
7.Casse (Salmson)
8.Dubonnet (Bugatti)
9.Rigal (Peugeot)
10.Ch. Montier (Montier)
11.Morris (BNC)
12.F. Montier (Montier)
13.Violet (Leroy)

Goutte had retaken second place from Conelli. Goux continued his climb through the field from tenth on the first lap and was now fourth. Dubonnet moved from eighth to sixth place while Violet retired the little Leroy after 19 laps. Boillot was leading at an average speed of 103.200 km/h with the field in the following order after 20 laps:
1.Boillot (Peugeot)2h32m37s
2.Goutte (Salmson)2h34m42s
3.Conelli (Bugatti)2h35m30s
4.Goux (Bugatti)
5.Doré (Corre La Licorne)
6.Dubonnet (Bugatti)
7.Casse (Salmson)
8.Rigal (Peugeot)
9.Rost (Georges Irat)
10.Ch. Montier (Montier)
11.F. Montier (Montier)
12Morris (BNC)

On lap 21 the order remained the same but on lap 22 Doré passed Goux for fourth place. Then on lap 24 he passed Conelli into 3rd place. During laps 26 to 29 Boillot maintained his two minute lead over Goutte at an average speed of 103.300 km/h. Rigal retired the second Peugeot after 28 laps. Boillot's advantage had declined to less than a minute as he led at 103.300 km/h average speed when the field was in the following order after 30 laps:
1.Boillot (Peugeot)3h38m41s
2.Goutte (Salmson)3h39m18s
3.Doré (Corre La Licorne)3h39m24s
4.Goux (Bugatti)
5.Conelli (Bugatti)
6.Casse (Salmson)
7.Rost (Georges Irat)
8.Dubonnet (Bugatti)
9.Ch. Montier (Montier)
10.F. Montier (Montier)
11Morris (BNC)

On lap 31 there was no change in the order but Doré had increased his speed. The last lap became exciting after he passed Goutte's Salmson and then visibly reduced the gap to Boillot. As he tried to catch the Peugeot, Dore completed his last lap in 6m35s, the fastest lap in this rain soaked race. Doré crossed the finish line just 50 meters behind the Peugeot of Boillot. Goux finished third, ahead of Goutte, Conelli and Casse in sixth place. The remaining drivers were flagged off, including Rost (Georges Irat), Dubonnet (Bugatti), the Montiers of C. Montier and F. Montier and last was Morris in the BNC. Seven cars had retired, but none had run out of fuel or crashed during the rainy race. Boillot was awarded the trophy of the Sporting Commission and 50,000 francs from the A.C.F., Doré won 25,000 francs and Goux 15,000.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.4André BoillotA. BoillotPeugeot I1762.4S-4323h53m20.2s
2.16Michel DoréM. DoréCorre La Licorne1.5S-6323h53m21.6s + 1.4s
3.24Jules GouxAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-4323h54m27.0s + 1m06.8s
4.26Pierre GoutteSM SalmsonSalmson II1.5S-4323h54m37.2s + 1m17.0s
5.34Caberto ConelliAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-4323h56m07.2s + 2m47.0s
6.10Georges CasseSM SalmsonSalmson I1.2S-4313h59m43.0s
7.8Maurice RostM. RostGeorges Irat2.0S-4314h01m13.0s
8.6André DubonnetAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT37A1.5S-431flagged
9.20Charles MontierC. MontierMontier I2.9S-429flagged
10.32Ferdinand MontierF. Montier, filsMontier II2.9S-427flagged
11.30Violette MorrisBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap s/c1.1S-426flagged
DNF22Louis RigalL. RigalPeugeot II1762.4S-428
DNF2Marcel VioletM. VioletLeroy0.7S-419
DNF14Henri BillietBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap s/c1.1S-4 3oil leak
DNF38Jean GaupillatBollack, Netter et CieBNCScap s/c1.1S-4 2
DNF12PerrotBollack, Netter et CieLombard1.1S-4 1withdrawn
DNF28J.P. RogerBollack, Netter et CieLombard1.1S-4 1withdrawn
DNF36Lucien DesvauxBollack, Netter et CieLombard1.1S-4 1withdrawn
Fastest lap: Michel Doré (Corre La Licorne) on lap 32 in 6m45s = 111.1 km/h (69.0 mph)
Winner's average speed: 102.9 km/h. (63.9 mph)
Weather: intermittent rain showers.
In retrospect:
The individual lap times published in newspapers and magazines deviated by fractions of a second and we hope that we have selected the correct ones.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Automobil Motorsport, Budapest
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
L'AUTO, Paris
La Vie Automobile, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Omnia, Paris



Benoist (Delage)Bourlier (Delage)Morel (Delage)

GRAND PRIX DE L'AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE FRANCE

Linas-Montlhéry - Paris (F), 3 July 1927.
48 laps x 12.5 km (7.77 mi) = 600 km (372.8 mi)



No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngine

2George EystonF. HalfordHalfordSpecial1.5S-6
4Albert Divo / Jules MoriceauAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-8
6Robert Benoist / Robert SénéchalAutomobiles DelageDelage 15 S 8 19271.5S-8
8André Dubonnet / Caberto ConelliAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT39A1.5S-8DNS - did not start
10"Williams" / Jules MoriceauAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-8
12Edmond Bourlier / Robert SénéchalAutomobiles DelageDelage 15 S 8 19271.5S-8
14Emilio Materassi / Caberto ConelliAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT39A1.5S-8DNS - did not start
16Louis Wagner / Jules MoriceauAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-8
18André Morel / Robert SénéchalAutomobiles DelageDelage 15 S 8 19271.5S-8
20Jules Goux / Meo CostantiniAutomobiles Ettore BugattiBugattiT39A1.5S-8 DNS - did not start

Note: Drivers are shown with the nominated relief driver


Benoist wins the French Grand Prix for the second time

by Hans Etzrodt
The 13th Grand Prix of the A. C. de France promised to become a giant battle between Talbot, Bugatti and Delage. When Bugatti withdrew in fear of defeat just before the start, there were only seven cars left to race. Only manufacturers were allowed to enter with cars conforming to the 1500 formula. Divo in the Talbot led initially but from the fourth lap on, Benoist in the faster Delage took the lead and held it to the end of the race. Divo continued to be his closest opponent until he retired on lap 23. Thereafter the two Delages of Benoist and Bourlier led with the Talbot of Wagner third. When Wagner retired near the end after lap 42, the Delages of Benoist, Bourlier and Morel finished in a hat trick while the third Talbot of Williams/Moriceau ended up fourth. The Halford of Eyston was not only the slowest car but was also handicapped by numerous pit stops, was flagged off many laps behind and was not classified.
The Automobile Club de France announced that in 1927 three races were to be held, the Grand Prix de l'A.C.F., the Coupe de la Commission sportive, and La Course Formula Libre. The Formula Libre race and the race for the Cup of the Sporting Commission took place on Saturday before the Grand Prix which was staged on Sunday. It was the second event counting towards the 1927 World Championship and was run to the International 1500 cc formula. It took place on the 12.5 km Linas-Montlhéry circuit over 48 laps, a total of 600 km. The prize money provided the winner with 100,000 francs, second 50,000 and third 20,000.
      The formula libre race on Saturday morning over 10 laps of the 12.5 km circuit was won by Albert Divo with the 1500 Grand Prix Talbot in 1h2m20.4s at 120.307 km/h beating the large Bugattis of Chiron and Eyston. Sadly Gérard de Courcelles died when his Guyot race car shattered to pieces when it hit a tree in the rain. The 400 km race for the Cup of the Sporting Commission was held in the afternoon rain to a special fuel consumption formula and was won by André Boillot in 3h53m21.2s at102.848 km/h with a specially designed 2500 Peugeot.
Entries:
The ACF received a total of just 10 entries from four manufacturers. The Halford-Special was the first entry, followed by 3 cars each from Talbot and Delage. Bugatti, the World Champion marque of 1926 arrived the night before Friday practice. With only 100,000 francs for the victory, Americans showed no interest in taking part probably because the prize money offered did not justify the high shipping cost from America. For this reason the entry was rather small but better than the mere 3 cars in the 1926 race.
      At the beginning of June the starting order had been determined by drawing lots. Uneven numbers were omitted to avoid the ominous number 13. The cars were weighed on Thursday afternoon before the race with 750 kg the allowable minimum weight. There were ten cars: #2 Halford, weighed in at 752 kg, to be driven by George Eyston; #4 Talbot I weighed 810 kg to be driven by Albert Divo with Jules Moriceau as reserve driver; #6 Delage I was 810 kg with Robert Benoist as driver and Robert Sénéchal reserve; #8 Bugatti I was 750 kg, driven by André Dubonnet with Caberto Conelli as reserve; #10 Talbot II was 803 kg with "Williams" as driver and Moriceau as reserve; #12 Delage II was 797 kg, driven by Edmond Bourlier and Sénéchal the reserve; #14 Bugatti II was 750 kg with Emilio Materassi as driver and Conelli reserve; #16 Talbot III was 856 kg, driven by Louis Wagner with Moriceau as reserve; #18 Delage III was 812 kg, driven by André Morel and Sénéchal the team's reserve; #20 Bugatti III was 750 kg with Jules Goux as driver and Meo Costantini the reserve driver.
      It is amazing that all three Bugattis weighed exactly 750 kg, the minimum weight. It sounds very fishy and we will look at that issue at the end of this report.
      The Talbots appeared with improved brakes and axles from the 1926 car and had a different look with the oil cooler now below the radiator. The cars were made lighter and faster but their racing team was near its end because of financial problems. The French Grand Prix would be their last contest as a factory team. The Delages were very much altered versions of their 1926 type, also with new brakes, a redesigned engine, improved supercharging, lowered body work and improved reliability. The 1927 Bugatti 8-cylinder T39A was much the same as their 1926 World Championship winning car but was now outclassed on the faster circuits. The 6-cylinder Halford-Special was too slow and unreliable to be considered a threat to their rivals.
Race:
A large crowd, estimated at around 100.000 attended the race. Never before since its existence had the circuit experienced such a great number of spectators. Before the start there was great activity on the track and in the pits. Mechanics attended to the cars and the drivers got ready. Everyone was looking for the Bugatti race cars, but they were not seen. Soon, the loudspeakers were put into action and announced the presence in the pits of the American Atlantic aviators Chamberlin and Levine, the latter acting as the starter.
      It was in vain to wait for the Bugatti. The manufacturer from Molsheim was not satisfied with the practice results on Friday and with the additional practice until 9:30 PM. Ettore Bugatti feared that he might lose the race and when his decision not to start was announced shortly before the start through the loudspeaker system, the crowd responded with mocking whistles, booing and yelling. Ettore Bugatti said that his cars were not "au point" and he does not want to take part in a race where he did not have a good chance of winning. In making this decision, he repeated what Delage and Talbot had done in 1926. We did not have sufficient time to prepare ourselves but we will return. The decision was a great disappointment, because everyone would have liked to see last year's winner go to battle with the improved Delages and Talbots. Without Bugatti, the seven cars lined up as follows:
Pole Position
6
Benoist

Delage

4
Divo

Talbot

2
Eyston

Halford

12
Bourlier

Delage

10
Williams

Talbot

18
Morel

Delage

16
Wagner

Talbot

At 1:30 PM the Atlantic Ocean flyer Levine, who acted as starter, dropped the Tricolour when Divo immediately took the lead with Benoist on his heels, while Wagner in the other Talbot was delayed on the grid for more than four minutes because his car refused to start. When Wagner finally left with deafening din, the spectators broke out in loud shouts of enthusiasm. After a short time a dull rumble announced the returning cars from their first lap, headed by Divo, Benoist and Williams in a close group, followed after nine seconds by the two Delages of Bourlier and Morel with Eyston's Halford one minute later and Wagner's Talbot much further behind. Divo was leading at an average speed of 122.950 km/h with the field in the following order after the first lap:
1.Divo (Talbot)6m06s
2.Benoist (Delage)6m08s
3.Williams (Talbot)6m10s
4.Bourlier (Delage)6m19s
5.Morel (Delage)6m20s
6.Eyston (Halford)7m21s
7.Wagner (Talbot)11m02s

On the second lap Divo, the French Champion, drove a fast lap in 5m57s at an average speed of 126.050 km/h. On lap 4 Benoist succeeded in passing Divo, while Williams passed his teammate for second place and Wagner in the third Talbot drove a lap in 5m56s which enabled him to overhaul Eyston. Benoist drove a new fast lap in 5m55s and was leading with an average speed of 125.348 km/h with the field in this order after 4 laps:
1.Benoist (Delage)23m56s
2.Williams (Talbot)24m05s
3.Divo (Talbot)24m06s
4.Bourlier (Delage)24m28s
5.Morel (Delage)24m31s
6.Wagner (Talbot)28m53s
7.Eyston (Halford)29m07s1 lap behind

On lap five Eyston stopped at his pit for 8m50s to change spark plugs. Williams, who tried to get past Benoist on lap 5, drove a new fast lap in 5m44s at 130.813 km/h average speed. At the end of lap 5 Benoist still held first place in 29m41s at 126.333 km/h average speed ahead of Williams (Talbot) in 29m49s with Divo (Talbot) 30m06s in third place, followed by Bourlier (Delage), Morel (Delage), Wagner (Talbot) and Eyston (Halford).
      On lap 8 Benoist drove a lap in 5m43s, on lap 9 a faster lap in 5m42s and on lap 10 even faster in 5m41s at 131.964 km/h, establishing a new lap record for the Linas-Montlhéry circuit. After 9 laps Williams stopped at his pit for 6m11s to work on the fuel pump to cure a fuel feed problem and to change all four wheels. The stop dropped him from second place to sixth, one lap behind the leader, while Wagner advanced to fifth place. Benoist was leading at 128.571 km/h average speed with the field in this slightly changed order after 10 laps:
1.Benoist (Delage)58m20s
2.Divo (Talbot)59m59s
3.Bourlier (Delage)1h00m44s
4.Morel (Delage)1h01m05s
5.Wagner (Talbot)1h04m42s1 lap behind
6.Williams (Talbot)1h05m44s1 lap behind
7.Eyston (Halford)3 laps behind

After lap 11 Morel stopped his Delage at the pit for 3m18s. He had also encountered fuel feed problems and changed tires on the right side which dropped him further behind and elevated the steady Wagner to fourth. Eyston continued to fall further behind since he had to stop at his pit every two or three laps to have this or that repaired. Benoist was still in the lead with an average speed of 128.909 km/h after 12 laps.
1.Benoist (Delage)1h09m49s
2.Divo (Talbot)1h11m49s
3.Bourlier (Delage)1h13m00s
4.Wagner (Talbot)1h16m40s1 lap behind
5.Williams (Talbot)1h17m14s1 lap behind
6.Morel (Delage)1h18m52s1 lap behind
7.Eyston (Halford)1h46m26s6 laps behind

Morel stopped on lap 14 for 1m50s to change the left tires and one spark plug. Benoist finished the 15 laps in 1h27m at 129.310 km/h average speed, leading Divo by 1m25 s with Bourlier 1m49s further back. Eyston stopped again changing spark plugs in 7m10s. On lap 16 Morel spun completely around at Bailleau but carried on undisturbed. On lap 18 Williams stopped once more since he experienced fuel feed problems, same as Morel had with his car, and had them check the fuel system which took 2m30s. After 250 km, Benoist's average speed had gone up to 129.459 km/h with the field in the following order after 20 laps:
1.Benoist (Delage)1h55m52s
2.Divo (Talbot)1h59m14s
3.Bourlier (Delage)2h01m58s
4.Wagner (Talbot)1 lap behind
5.Williams (Talbot)2 laps behind
6.Morel (Delage)2 laps behind
7.Eyston (Halford)7 laps behind

After 20 laps Bourlier stopped his Delage for 2m30s to refuel and change two wheels and spark plugs. On lap 21 Eyston stopped for 8m33s to change plugs. After 22 laps Divo stopped at the pits for 3m50s to replace a punctured tire and was passed by Bourlier. On lap 23 Divo headed for the pits again but after a brief stop the Talbot refused to start. After changing all spark plugs which did not cure the problem his mechanic push-started the car in wide circles on the large concrete expanse in front of the pits. When this failed, Divo retired. The loudspeakers announced that the car had a broken valve but other sources stated it was a broken supercharger. The race as such was now over since the third Talbot of Wagner was not fast enough to threaten the two Delages ahead of him. But he was only 18 seconds behind Bourlier. Any slight slip by Bourlier or a problem with his car and Wagner would have been in second place. On lap 24 Benoist stopped at the pits to refuel and to change four wheels in 2m28s. After 24 laps Benoist led at 129.511 km/h average speed with no further changes in the order after 24 laps.
1.Benoist (Delage)2h18m59s
2.Bourlier (Delage)2h29m01s1 lap behind
3.Wagner (Talbot)2h29m19s1 lap behind
4.Morel (Delage)2h36m21s3 laps behind
5.Williams (Talbot)2h56m12s4 laps behind
6.Eyston (Halford)3h32m18s12 laps behind

Benoist completed lap 25 in 2h24m52s at 129.429 km/h average speed, followed by Bourlier after he stopped for nearly nine minutes to refuel and change four wheels. Wagner made several pit stops without losing his third position but in the process, he dropped another lap behind. On lap 25 he refueled in 3m40s, and on lap 26 he replenished his water in 2m15s. According to William Boddy the engine was overheating because a water hose had become detached. The engine recovered fully, but too late. Wagner stopped a third time on lap 27 for 2m20s to replace plugs. On lap 29 Williams stopped for 3m35s to change four wheels, he then handed the car over to Moriceau, his nominated relief driver. Eyston had to stop at his pit for a long time to tighten the lower body shell which was dragging on the ground. After 24 laps, Morel had been seven minutes and two laps behind Wagner, but as a result of Wagner's pit stops, six laps later Morel was now on the same lap and only a little over a minute in arrears. Benoist held a comfortable lead at 126.274 km/h average speed with the field in the following order after 30 laps:
1.Benoist (Delage)2h58m11s
2.Bourlier (Delage)3h05m14s1 lap behind
3.Wagner (Talbot)3h15m05s2 laps behind
4.Morel (Delage)3h16m21s2 laps behind
5.Moriceau (Talbot)3h36m00s6 laps behind
6.Eyston (Halford)12 laps behind

At the end of lap 31 Benoist who had just equaled his record lap of 5m41s, stopped for 1m20s at his pit to replace a spark plug and fill up with fuel. Morel headed to his pit on lap 36 to refuel in 2m15s. On lap 40 he stopped again for 45s to attend to his fuel problem. After 400 km Benoist held a comfortable lead in 3h58m10s at 125.962 km/h average speed with the field in the same order after 40 laps. Bourlier was second one lap behind, followed by Wagner and Morel both two laps behind with Moriceau in fifth place six laps behind and Eyston last 12 laps behind.
      Wagner was third when he completed 42 laps in 4h29m11s and then went missing. He had stopped somewhere on the track and could not restart his Talbot because of a magneto failure and he had to retire. The three Delages were now in the lead. Morel stopped once more for fuel on lap 44 for one minute. The race continued unchanged until lap 45.
      The race ended without any further position changes and was a total success for Delage. When the fourth car, Moriceau in the Talbot crossed the finish line, the 1000 hp Sunbeam record car was made ready for a short demonstration run around the concrete oval. Benoist had won the race in a new record time and established a new circuit record of 5m41s at 132 km/h beating the fastest times driven by the 2-liter formula cars. This was Robert Benoist's second victory in the French Grand Prix after winning this classic race in 1925. Benoist drove a lap of honor. He won 100,000 francs and the prize for fastest lap, Bourlier won 50,000 and Morel 20,000. A nice gesture was applauded when Benoist, Bourlier, and Morel, their arms loaded with flowers that they had received for their victory, departed in a touring car and went to deposit the flowers at the places where Courselles and Antonio Ascari had met their deaths.

Results

Pos.No.DriverEntrantCarTypeEngineLapsTime/StatusDiff

1.6Robert BenoistAutomobiles DelageDelage15 S 8 19271.5S-8484h45m41.2s
2.12Edmond BourlierAutomobiles DelageDelage15 S 8 19271.5S-8484h53m55.6s + 8m14.4s
3.18André MorelAutomobiles DelageDelage15 S 8 19271.5S-8485h11m31.4s + 25m50.2s
4.10"Williams"/J. MoriceauAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-8465h24m30.0s + 38m48.8s
DNF16Louis WagnerAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-842magneto
DNC2George EystonF. HalfordHalfordSpecial1.5S-632flagged off
DNF4Albert DivoAutomobiles TalbotTalbot1.5S-823broken valve
Fastest lap Robert Benoist (Delage) on lap 9 in 5m41s at 132.0 km/h (82.0 mph).
Winner's speed: 126.0 km/h (78.3 mph).
Weather: overcast and dry.
In retrospect:
The French Grand Prix was the second round of the 1927 World Championship. It was won by Delage who received one point for their first car. The best Talbot finished in fourth place receiving four points, while Halford received 5 points. All three makes, Delage, Talbot and Halford had already received six points each because they did not contest the Indianapolis 500, which was won by Duesenberg ahead of Miller. (That race was not run to the exact same formula regulations but the engine size was the same.)
      After the French Grand Prix, Duesenberg and Delage were leading the World Championship each with 7 points, ahead of Miller with 8 points, followed by Talbot 10 points and Halford 11 points. Bugatti, who won the 1926 World Championship, did not contest the first two events and would have 12 points.

Bugatti: In order to take part in the race the cars had to weigh a minimum of 750 kg. The official weighing took place on the Thursday before the race and according to Friday's newspapers all of the cars passed the test. Bugatti was lightest at 750 kg and Wagner's Talbot was heaviest at 856 kg. While all the other cars varied in weight, the three Bugattis were precisely the same weight, which stretches the imagination, and this also happened to be the lowest permissible weight, exactly 750 kg. The explanation is simple. The Bugattis were not weighed on Thursday as they did not arrive at the circuit until Thursday evening, long after the weighing session had closed. That still leaves the question, 'Why did the officials provide the press with false information?'
      The second example also involves Bugatti, the press and the officials. It is not known when Bugatti informed the officials of the decision to withdraw from the event. The race previews in Sunday's newspapers (Le Matin, La Presse, Le Figaro) contained no hint of the withdrawal, the Bugattis were still listed among the starting field. It should be mentioned that this was certainly not an inconsequential decision as Bugatti was the current World Champion marque and the winner of the previous year's French Grand Prix. The withdrawal also reduced the field to only seven cars. But as far as the public was concerned, Bugatti would be taking part as planned. Even in the grandstands, it wasn't until just before the start of the race that the loudspeakers announced that the three Bugattis would not compete.
      A record crowd of about 100,000 came to the event. Presumably if the absence of Bugatti had been widely known beforehand, that number would have been considerably smaller......and with it the gate money too. It is said that 'silence is golden'.

Primary sources researched for this article:
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
Automobil Motorsport (Budapest)
AUTOMOBIL-REVUE, Bern
Automobil-Welt, Berlin
L'AUTO, Paris
La Presse, Paris
La Vie Automobile, Paris
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
Omnia, Paris
Special thanks to:
Tony Kaye

Star 9-10 July 1927: Robert Sénéchal / Caerels (Excelsior) wins the Spa 24 Heures sports car race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
Star 17 July 1927: Otto Merz (Mercedes-Benz) wins the Großer Preis von Deurschland sports car race at Nürburgring full circuit in Germany.


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© 2017 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 30.10.2017