VI GRAND PRIX D'EUROPE
Spa-Francorchamps (B), 20 July 1930.
40 laps x 14.914 km (9.267 mi) = 596.6 km (370.7 mi)
Chiron wins the European Grand Prix. Bouriat the moral victor
by Hans Etzrodt
The 1930 European Grand Prix on the Spa circuit was held to the fuel consumption formula. The Bugatti and Imperia factories both entered three-car teams while the remaining nine entries comprised independent Belgian and
French drivers with no real chance of outright victory. The three factory Bugattis were the only serious racecars with Chiron, Divo and Bouriat as the early leaders. Stoffel in an old Peugeot rated amongst the favorites
and held second place when he ran out of fuel near the end. The works Bugattis in the first three places were arranged with a staged finish to let Chiron win. Duray (Ariès) finished fourth ahead of Zehender (Imperia),
Charles Montier (Ford-Montier) and Ledure (Imperia) was the last finisher. From the eight retirements four cars ran out of fuel.
The European Grand Prix was held for the first time in 1923 at Monza and was won by Salamono (Fiat). In 1924 the race was held in France where Campari (Alfa Romeo) was victorious at Lyon. In 1925 Belgium held the European
Grand Prix at Spa where Ascari (Alfa Romeo) won. The following year Goux (Bugatti) won the event at San Sebastian in Spain. In 1927 the European Grand Prix returned to Monza and was won by Benoist (Delage). In 1928 Great
Britain had declined to hold the European Grand Prix, so it went again to Monza and was won by Chiron (Bugatti). In 1929 the ACF had organized their great annual race to the fuel consumption formula, but the other clubs did
not want to comply with it. Then Italy was chosen again to taken over the organization of the European Grand Prix but the Italian club withdrew and the European Grand Prix did not take place that year.
For 1930 the sporting committee of the R.A.B.C. (Royal Automobile Club de Belgique) organized the Grand Prix d'Europe on the occasion of the centennial celebrations of independence, a national holiday on July 21. The race was
held the day before on the 14.914 km Spa-Francorchamps circuit to the A.I.A.C.R. consumption formula, which specified that the cars were not allowed to use more than 14 kg/100 km of 70% gasoline mixed with 30% benzol,
including oil consumption. The cars had to weigh at least 900 kg and the race distance had to be no less than 600 km. With this strict ruling the spectacular side of the speed races was missing. The secret of victory
depended on technical methods like a well regulated fuel feed system for example, which was unseen by the public.
Three factory Imperias with Zehender, Ledure and Doré headed the entry list. The Belgian company had prepared three racecars for this event, so that the Belgian Industry was appropriately represented at their nation's important
event. These modified sports cars raced without a supercharger and had an 1800 cc, 6-cylinder slide-valve engine fed by six carburetors designed by engineer Jean Couchard, but they had no real chance of winning. Bugatti sent
three factory entries with supercharged 8-cylinder 2.0- liter T35Cs, for Chiron, Divo and Bouriat. There were three independent Bugattis, Reinartz with a 2.3-liter T43 in race trim while Thiron and Cornet drove T35C's. There
were two Ford Montier special cars, built by the Frenchman Charles Montier on the basis of the Ford A model. The chassis was lowered and cylinder heads altered with valves, camshafts and other parts. Charles drove one car
while his son Ferdinand drove the other. One independent 3-liter Ariès was driven by the veteran Arthur Duray, who at a younger age had raced in the town-to-town races. The strongest of the independent amateurs was a 4-liter
Peugeot with slide-valve engine, which belonged to Stoffel and was driven by him under the pseudonym "Henry". The Belgian Franz Gouvion drove a Lombard sports car in race trim with the smallest engine of 1083 cc with two
overhead camshafts and a Cozette supercharger. Emile Burie drove a 3-liter 6-cylinder Georges Irat sports car in race trim.
A large crowd had arrived to watch this Grand Prix of Europe on a day with beautiful summer weather. From the drawing of lots before practice, the 15 car starting grid assembled in the following order:
At 12:00 noon the 15 cars started when Thirion and Zehender got away first followed by Chiron and Reinartz. At Stavelot corner Chiron's Bugatti was in the lead, followed by his team mates Divo and Bouriat, while Reinartz and
Stoffel trailed behind. After the first lap Chiron led with a lap of 7m49s at an average speed of 114.371 km/h, ahead of Divo (Bugatti) and Bouriat (Bugatti), followed by Reinartz (Bugatti), Stoffel (Peugeot), Duray (Ariès),
Thirion (Bugatti), F. Montier (Ford-Montier), Bourie (Georges Irat), Doré (Imperia), C. Montier (Ford-Montier), Zehender (Imperia), Ledure (Imperia), Gouvion (Lombard) and Cornet (Bugatti).
On the second lap the three factory Bugattis had formed a unified leading trio ahead of the remaining cars. Bourie's Georges Irat gained three places.
Chiron held the lead also on lap 5 with the cars in the following order:
|11.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||42m52s|
|12.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||43m25s|
|15.||Cornet (Bugatti)||47m09s||1 lap behind|
After six laps, Chiron was 30 seconds head of Divo and Bouriat. Chiron completed the first eight laps in 1h02m18s. Bourie's Georges-Irat was the first retirement on lap eight when running in seventh place. Zehender passed
Duray and captured sixth place. Gouvion (Lombard) was lapped on the tenth lap by Chiron, who led at an average speed of 115.214 km/h after 10 laps.
|9.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||1h23m55s|
|10.||Doré (Imperia)||1h24m58s||1 lap behind|
|11.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||1h25m38s||1 lap behind|
|12.||Ledure (Imperia)||1h26m04s||1 lap behind|
|13.||Gouvion (Lombard)||1h28m17s||1 lap behind|
After the twelfth lap Divo very briefly stopped at his pit, just to come in again after lap 13 when a wheel was changed in a rush. That allowed Bouriat into second position and Stoffel was third. When Cornet at the end of the
field retired his Bugatti after 12 laps, there were only 13 cars left racing. Chiron was still leading after 15 laps.
|7.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||2h03m43s|
|8.||Thirion (Bugatti)||2h08m26s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Duray (Ariès)||2h08m29s||1 lap behind|
|10.||Doré (Imperia)||2h08m50s||1 lap behind|
|11.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||2h09m28s||1 lap behind|
|12.||Ledure (Imperia)||2h09m42s||1 lap behind|
|13.||Gouvion (Lombard)||2h11m53s||2 laps behind|
Very soon Divo in the faster car had made up ground and passed the Peugeot without a problem to gain third place. The Impérias were not fast enough to challenge the front runners and could only reach 160 km/h.
The Montier Specials showed themselves to be regular and solid, but the fastest cars of the day were unquestionably the Bugattis. At mid-race, Chiron was leading at 114.955 km/h after 20 laps:
|7.||F. Montier (Ford-Montier)||2h45m13s||1 lap behind|
|8.||Ledure (Imperia)||2h45m40s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Duray (Ariès)||2h47m05s||1 lap behind|
|10.||Thirion (Bugatti)||2h48m41s||1 lap behind|
|11.||Doré (Imperia)||2h51m00s||2 laps behind|
|12.||C. Montier (Ford-Montier)||2h51m41s||2 laps behind|
|13.||Gouvion (Lombard)||3h03m06s||3 laps behind|
On lap 25 Chiron lapped Zehender's slow Imperia and headed for the pits to cure his car's ignition trouble. Changing plugs lost him 1m30s of his lead. . The order of the first seven drivers remained the same while
Duray passed Ledure for eighth place and Thirion fell behind to twelfth position. Chiron was still leading after 25 laps.
|5.||Reinartz (Bugatti)||3h21m30s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Zehender (Imperia)||3h21m40s||1 lap behind|
|7.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||3h26m10s||1 lap behind|
|8.||Duray (Ariès)||3h26m20s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Ledure (Imperia)||3h31m10s||2 laps behind|
|10.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||3h33m32s||2 laps behind|
|11.||Doré (Imperia)||3h36m58s||3 laps behind|
|12.||Thirion (Bugatti)||3h40m25s||3 laps behind|
|13.||Gouvion (Lombard)||3h46m53s||4 laps behind|
On lap 26 Chiron stopped again at his pit, losing more time changing plugs once more and dropping to fourth place. Bouriat now held the lead ahead of Divo and Stoffel while Chiron was busy recovering the lost time.
After Doré and Thirion retired, the field was down to 11 cars. After 30 laps, ¾ distance, Bouriat was leading at 115.088 km/h.
|5.||Reinartz (Bugatti)||4h01m21s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Zehender (Imperia)||4h03m33s||1 lap behind|
|7.||Duray (Ariès)||4h04m56s||1 lap behind|
|8.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||4h06m54s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Ledure (Imperia)||4h15m04s||3 laps behind|
|10.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||4h15m06s||3 laps behind|
|11.||Gouvion (Lombard)||4h30m31s||5 laps behind|
When Divo stopped at his pit with a second wheel change, Stoffel advanced to second place. Duray passed Zehender for sixth place and Ledure fell one place behind. After 35 laps Bouriat was in the lead.
|5.||Reinartz (Bugatti)||4h42m36s||1 lap behind|
|6.||Duray (Ariès)||4h43m43s||1 lap behind|
|7.||Zehender (Imperia)||4h44m01s||1 lap behind|
|8.||F. Montier junior (Ford-Montier)||4h47m47s||2 laps behind|
|9.||C. Montier senior (Ford-Montier)||4h56m03s||3 laps behind|
|10.||Ledure (Imperia)||4h56m58s||3 laps behind|
|11.||Gouvion (Lombard)||?||5 laps behind|
Chiron in fourth place was closing on Divo whom he passed on lap 38 for third position, he then chased after Bouriat and Stoffel
ahead of him. Stoffel, who temporarily was threatening for the lead, was just five seconds behind Bouriat. Then on the last lap Stoffel's Peugeot came to a stop 10 km from the finish with an empty tank. This was a great
disappointment since he had driven splendidly against the Bugatti team without any factory support from Peugeot. Reinartz's Bugatti also ran out of fuel as did Charles Montier and Gouvion.
Jean Bugatti, who managed his team, had given strict instructions that if all three of them finished, Chiron was to be the winner since he had the best chance for the World Championship title. On the last lap Bouriat, who
had a 2m30s advantage to Chiron, followed the order and waited some distance from the finish line to the amazement of the unaware spectators. Bouriat sat in his car until Chiron caught up and was content with second place.
This shameless exhibition of an absurd arrangement did not go down well with the crowd. Divo finished in third position ahead of Duray, followed by Zehender, Montier Sr. and Ledure.
|1.||9||Louis Chiron||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h08m34.0s|
|2.||8||Guy Bouriat||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h09m34.0s||+ 1m00s|
|3.||7||Albert Divo||Automobiles Ettore Bugatti||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||40||5h13m54.0s||+ 5m20s|
|4.||4||Arthur Duray||Automobiles Ariès||Ariès||8/10 CV||3.0||S-4||40||5h22m26.0s||+ 13m52s|
|5.||1||Goffredo Zehender||SA des Automobiles Imperia Exelsior||Impéria||Sport||1.8||S-6||40||5h25m19.0s||+ 16m45s|
|6.||5||Charles Montier (father)||C. Montier||Montier||Speciale||3.3||S-4||40||5h30m30.0s||+ 21m56s|
|7.||2||Jacques Ledure||SA des Automobiles Imperia Exelsior||Impéria||Sport||1.8||S-6||40||5h41m47.0s||+ 33m13s|
|DNF||19||Henri Stoffel||"Henry"||Peugeot||174S||4.0||S-4||39||out of fuel|
|DNF||12||Joseph Reinartz||J. Reinartz||Bugatti||T43||2.3||S-8||39||out of fuel|
|DNF||6||Ferdinand Montier (son)||F. Montier||Montier||Speciale||3.3||S-4||39||out of fuel|
|DNF||18||Franz Gouvion||F. Gouvion||Lombard||AL3||1.1||S-4||?||out of fuel|
|DNF||3||Michel Doré||SA des Automobiles Imperia Exelsior||Impéria||Sport||1.8||S-6||28|
|DNF||16||Max Thirion||M. Thirion||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||27|
|DNF||20||Emile Cornet||E. Cornet||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||12|
|DNF||17||Emile Burie||E. Burie||Georges Irat||A6||3.0||S-6||7|
Fastest lap: Louis Chiron (Bugatti) in 7m07.9s = 125.5 km/h (78.0 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 116.0 km/h (72.1 mph)
Weather: warm, first sunshine, then overcast.
Any claim in contemporary reports that either Bugatti or Chiron had been the 1930 World Champion is nonsense because of the failure of the 1930 World Championship.
The AIACR mandated a minimum race length and a maximum amount of fuel. Apart from cruising around, i.e. NOT racing, there wasn't much the teams could do about it. Some of them were doing that
anyway, trying make their dwindling fuel supplies last. Since so many cars ran out of fuel, it looks as if the AIACR got the numbers wrong. Yet another example of an AIACR screw-up!
Small wonder that the other national races ignored the official formula.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Berlin
Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung, Wien
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
La Stampa, Torino
Le Figaro, Paris
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
The Autocar, London
The Motor, London
Tutti in Automobile, Roma
Special thanks to: