III GRAND PRIX DE DIEPPE
Dieppe (F), 26 July 1931.
4 hours race on a 8.15 km (5.06 mi) circuit
Etancelin dominates rainy race with his new Monza
by Leif Snellman
The Dieppe Grand Prix was run as a 4 hour race with voiturettes and bigger cars racing together. Rainy weather after the first hour made the conditions hazardous.
Etancelin dominated the event with his Alfa Romeo Monza. His main Bugatti competitors were Lehaux, Wimille, Fourny and Czaykowsky of which Lehaux had to give up due to an earlier injury and give over the car to
Jacquin, who then crashed. Wimille crashed as well and Fourny then crashed into Wimille's wrecked car. That left only Czaykowski, who however was unable to challenge Etancelin and had to
settle for second position. Earl Howe with his Delage was third and a superior winner of the voiturette class.
L'Automobile-Club de l'Ouest and Moto-Club de Dieppe supported by magazine Le Matin organized a motor event at Dieppe for the third time. It included a rally, a night event for motor cycles, a three hour
race for 250, 350 and 500cc motorcycles on Sunday morning and a four hour race for cars under 1500cc and over 1500cc (Note 1) in the Sunday afternoon, both classes racing together.
The usual 8.15km long course was used. It consisted of a long uphill and downhill straight on the road to Paris, R.N. n° 15 from Maison Blanche to Virage du Val Gosset, and a sharp right hand turn that
sent the race course into a twisty downhill section along C.G. n° 54 into Saint-Aubin-sur-Cie. Another sharp right-hand curve was followed by a twisty uphill section northwards along R. N. n° 27 until
the course finally rejoined the main road at Maison Blanche.
Competitors in the 1500cc category had to accomplish at least 40 laps (326 km) and in the category over 1500cc at least 45 laps (336.75 km) to be classified.
Roads were closed from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
On Sunday a special train left from Gare Saint- Lazare, Paris at 6 a.m. for Dieppe and returned at 9 p.m.
Entries in the bigger class included Philippe Etancelin with his new blue painted Alfa Romeo Monza, which had made its debut at the Marne GP three weeks earlier finishing 4th. His main opponents were the
T51 Bugattis of count Czaykowski, last year's winner Marcel Lehoux and Jean-Pierre Wimille, who was to share the car with Gaupillat. A works car for Louis Chiron, who had finished second in the German
Grand Prix a week before, was entered as well but did not appear. Probably they were preparing for Coppa Ciano instead.
T35C Bugattis were raced by Max Fourny, Emile Tetaldi while "Mlle. Helle-Nice", who for the next five seasons would be a Grand Prix regular, after having made her Grand Prix debut at Marne three weeks earlier raced an
Rather unknown names Diego Munoz and Charles Wersant entered unsupercharged T35 Bugattis. Jean de Maleplane from Biarritz near the Spanish border had changed his Bugatti T35C for a Maserati 26M. Russian
born sports car driver Boris Ivanowski racing a Mercedes-Benz SSK, L Pesato in a 6 cylinder Alfa Romeo and father and son Montier with their own built cars completed the list of starters.
Among those who did not appear is a driver listed as A.C.R. Baynes by Le Matin and as Harry Raynes by Paul Sheldon.
In the 1500cc class many of the entries failed to appear but Earl Howe was present as the only British car driver with the ex- Campbell 1.5 litre Grand Prix Delage, probably bought from Thomson & Taylor
for £1200 (Note 2).
Voiturette Bugattis were raced by Philippe Auber, Jean Delorme, René Mary and André Vagniez and racing veteran "Jose" Scaron entered his small but victorious Amilcar C6.
P. Chevallier raced a car with his own name probably having a 1.1 litre Ruby engine and
Frank Rock entered another Ruby engined car built by "Bollack Netter et compagnie" (B.N.C.), a small Paris based automobile company.
The weather at race day was quite bad with rain and a heavy wind blowing. The event of the day started off at 8:30 a.m. with the three hour motorcycle race.
At 1:45 p.m. when the car race started fifteen minutes late the rain had stopped and the sun was shining on competitors and spectators but the windy conditions remained.
It seems like that 14 major and 8 minor cars came to the grid but the French newspapers claim that only 21 cars started. That might be due to the fact that Rock retired immediately with mechanical trouble.
As the race started Czaykowski took the lead and did the first lap in 4m22s. He was followed by Fourny, de Maleplane, Lehoux, Tetaldi and Etancelin. Earl Howe stopped in the pit after the first lap to change
a wheel and Chevallier came in as well to cure a plug trouble.
Fourny soon took over the lead from Czaykowski, while Etancelin moved up to third on the second lap, to second on the third lap and he then took over the lead on the 4th or 5th lap. Etancelin put in a 4m03s lap
followed by a 4m01s one, pulling away from the rest. After six laps Fourny was seven seconds behind Etancelin and was challenged by Lehoux, who on the next lap went down to 3m54s and passed Fourny for second
position. Tetaldi crashed and Wersant retired as well.
In the smaller class Scaron was leading with his Amilcar while Auber in second position overdid it, crashed through a fence, and had to retire.
Lehoux was suffering from a sprained wrist after his crash at Nürburgring and eventually had to come into the pit where he gave over the Bugatti to Jacquin. Wimille also gave over his car to his team mate
Gaupillat. So two of the T51s had changed driver.
Etancelin made the first ten laps in almost exactly 40 minutes (122.316 km/h):
|1.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
|5.||de Maleplane (Maserati)|
After 15 laps the race order remained much the same:
|1.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
|5.||de Maleplane (Maserati)|
Etancelin controlled the race and put in the fastest lap of the day with a time of 3m51s.
The weather turned worse and it started to rain again. On the 18th lap Jacquin crashed and turned over Lehoux's Bugatti but the driver survived without any serious injuries.
The rain coming in intermittent showers proved to make conditions hard and slippery, especially at the Saint-Aubin corner, and forced the drivers to be cautious.
After 20 laps Etancelin was leading Fourny by 1m28s. Gaupillat had passed Czaykowski for third position. After signals from the pit Etancelin was easing up and concentrated only on keeping up the current gap.
On the 21th lap Scaron stopped his Amilcar with mechanical trouble and started walking back to the pit and Howe, who had been advancing through the field after his first lap stop, took over the lead in the
voiturette class. Later Scaron seems to have returned to the race for a few laps before definitely calling it a day.
Fourny was falling back a bit and Gaupillat took over second position. After two hours the situation was:
|1.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
|6.||de Maleplane (Maserati)|
On the 35th lap Wimille took back the car from Gaupillat. But on the very first lap after his return Wimille crashed at Saint Aubin. He escaped without a scratch but the Bugatti caught fire. The car was
sitting at the middle of the road in a blind corner and Fourny came into the curve at some 115 km/h and crashed straight into Wimille's car. Fourny's T35C overturned and threw the driver out. Bystanders
rushed to the scene and helped Founey up while Wimille's car was extinguished. Fourney was quite dizzy after the crash but luckily had escaped serious injuries.
The rain turned worse. In the same corner as the former crash Mary had an incident as well and had to retire.
With both Wimille and Fourny out of the race Etancelin had lost his main competition and he now led by 3m50s over Czaykowski, who due to the accidents of the others had moved back to second position.
Etancelin then made a 1m40s pit stop with refueling but still led Czaykowski, who had not made his pit stop yet, by over 2 minutes.
Race order after three hours:
|1.||Etancelin (Alfa Romeo)|
|4.||de Maleplane (Maserati)|
Czaykowski was doing his best to catch the leader and managed to close down the gap to 1m45s. He then made a 1m07s stop for refueling and continued the chase but he was unable to do anything against
Etancelin, who controlled the race as he wanted to. After 52 laps his lead over Czaykowski was 3m17s. It was still raining but Etancelin did not have to take any chances but could take it easy the last
laps until the clock reached 5:45 p.m. and the chequered flag dropped.
So Etancelin took his first victory with his new Monza. Czaykowski finished second some 2 ½ minutes behind and Earl Howe, just a lap behind after an excellent drive, was a surprise third in the Delage
and winner of the voiturette class by a huge eight lap margin. De Maleplane and Ivanowski followed in 4th and 5th position, two and three further laps behind.
Newspapers were fast to point out that Helle-Nice took the flag in 7th position.
Ferdinand Montier and Chevallier were reported as 11th and 12th but following the rules published by Le Matin they really should not have been classified as they failed to do 40 laps.
1. Both El Mundo Deportivo, Le Matin and Le Figaro lists the class as "2000cc and over", obviously from an official source, but as you can see Pesato's 1.75 litre Alfa started in this class so "over 1500cc" should be more correct.
2. Ad in Motor Sport June 1930, page 37.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
L'Écho de Paris, Paris
L'Express du Midi, Toulouse
La Croix, Paris
Le Figaro, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
Le Petit Nicois, Nice
Motor Sport, London
V° COPPA CIANO
Montenero - Livorno (I), 2 August 1931.
Over 1100cc: 10 laps x 20.0 km (12.4 mi) = 200.0 km (124.3 mi)
Below 1100cc: 8 laps x 20.0 km (12.4 mi) = 160.0 km (99.4 mi)
Nuvolari wins the Coppa Ciano at Montenero in record time
by Hans Etzrodt
The international motor sport week at Livorno ended with the Coppa Ciano race, which proved to be another classic battle between Alfa Romeo, Bugatti and Maserati. Scuderia Ferrari represented
Alfa Romeo with various 8C-2300 models driven by Campari, Nuvolari, Borzacchini and Cortese backed up by a variety of 6C-1750 types for Severi, Carraroli, Klinger and D'Ippolito. Maserati
appeared with only one 2800 cc type 26M for Fagioli. Two potent Bugatti 2300 twin-cam models were privately entered by Chiron and Varzi but with factory backing. Besides these top drivers there
were another 17 entries, all independents. At the start Varzi and Fagioli had the fastest cars but both soon ran into trouble. That made Nuvolari's life easier in his fight for the lead.
Near the end Varzi (Bugatti) established the fastest lap while Chiron (Bugatti) almost caught up with the victorious Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) on the final lap. Fagioli (Maserati) finished in third
place followed by Campari, Varzi, Cortese, D'Ippolito, Taruffi, Castelbarco and Carraroli. The small car class raced concurrently and was won by Premoli (Salmson) ahead of G. Ferrari (Talbot- Spcl.),
Matrullo (Salmson), Pratesi (Salmson) and Cioni (Fiat).
The races on the Montenero Circuit near Livorno (Leghorn in English) had been held since 1921. From 1922 onwards a 22.5 km circuit was used, which in 1931 was shortened to 20 km and routed from
Ardenza Mare - Montenero - Savolano - Castellaggio - and back to Ardenza Mare. For 1931 the greater parts of the circuit was resurfaced, including the start and finish area after the tram tracks
had been removed. The old row of 24 pits was replaced by a new 25-pits complex with a time keepers' stand and new timing display boards above the pits. The old grandstands made way for larger
ones. The narrow road circuit still consisted of endless curves with steep up and down slopes.
The 1931 event was the 11th time that the race was held on the Circuito del Montenero and the organizer named it misleadingly the 11th Coppa Ciano but in reality, 1931 was the 5th Coppa Ciano.
The Coppa or trophy was donated by Italian Navy hero Costanzo Ciano for a 1927 Montenero sports car race, which was named after the trophy. The Coppa Ciano name was applied for the second time
to the 1928 Montenero sports car race. As of 1929, when the sports car race was dropped from the program, the Coppa Ciano name was assigned to the racecar event for the first time. The races
were held annually and 1931 was the fifth running of the Coppa Ciano and the eleventh race on the Montenero circuit.
The RACI (Royal Automobile Club of Italy) and L'Automobile Club Livorno, staged a motorcycle race the week before the automobile race. The Coppa Ciano race results counted for the Italian
Championship. The 20 km circuit had to be lapped ten times by the cars over 1100 cc but the smaller cars up to 1100 cc had to cover only eight laps or 160 km. A special prize was to be provided for
the 1500 cc class for scoring in the Italian Championship.
The total prize money was 215,000 lire of which 183,000 went to the large car class. 100,000 was to go to the victor plus the Ciano Cup, 40,000 lire to second place and the Mussolini Cup, 15,000 and
the Livorno Cup to third, 10,000 to fourth, 7,000 to fifth, 5,000 to sixth, 4,000 to seventh and 2,000 to eighth. The first of the small car class received 5,000 lire and a gold medal, the second
3,000 and third 2,000 lire. There were additional prizes for the leader on each lap, totaling 22,000 lire.
Most of the renowned European race drivers were at the start for the Coppa Ciano except the Germans, who were busy at the Avusrennen. Ernesto Maserati and Tazio Nuvolari had entered for the German
race but then withdrew to be present in Livorno. In the class over 1100 cc, 40 entries were assigned with race numbers. The Scuderia Ferrari entered a total of eight Alfa Romeos. Nuvolari had a
8C-2300 spider Zagato on loan from the factory with the slotted Monza cowl but lacking rear bodywork in Targa Florio configuration with spare wheel behind the barrel tank. Borzacchini had possibly a similar
8C-2300 and for local hero Franco Cortese from Livorno a 8C-2300, likely a Mille Miglia car. Campari had one of the double 6-cylinder 3500 cc type A monoposti on loan from the factory, which he drove only
during early practice but then changed to a 8C-2300 borrowed from the factory. Severi, Carraroli, Klinger and D'Ippolito were driving several variations of the Scuderia's 6C-1750 Alfa Romeos.
Gazzabini's Alfa was not supercharged; it was a 6C-1750 S which he co-owned with Paolo Cantono.
The Bugattis of Chiron and Varzi were not official factory cars and were entered under the drivers' names. Nevertheless, it was an important race for Varzi in his red 2300 twin-cam Bugatti because
the race was part of the Italian Automobile Championship. Chiron drove a similar car but painted blue. Fontana had a T35C Bugatti, probably ex-Balestrero who was present as his reserve driver.
The Maserati factory only sent a single 2800 cc type 26M for Fagioli with a spare wheel on the right side. Taruffi drove an Itala 75, a supercharged 2-liter car which belonged to Lelio Pellegrini
Quarantotti. Besides these drivers there were many additional entries, all independent, with no chance of winning the race. They are listed at the beginning of this report together with the 23
independent cycle car entries in the class up to 1100 cc. Alessandro Silva states that Gerolami Ferrari drove a Talbot Special which was a Bugatti chassis with a 1100cc engine made in Materassi's workshop from Talbot spares.
Wednesday was the first official practice from 12:30 to 14:30. The practice times of Corsi (Alfa) were 19m26s and 18m50s, Bertolucci (O.M.) 17m21s and 17m33s, Terigi (Salmson) 20m51s, Ghersi with
an Alfa 1750 in 16m50s and Cerami (Maserati) 16m25s. The popular Campari drove the 3.5-liter tipo A monoposto, which had been revised since Monza, and was timed at 15m14s and later 14m39s. The
existing lap record, which stood at 14m38.4s, had been established in 1930 by Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo P2. On account of the shortening and improvements to the circuit better times could be expected.
Thursday's practice again took place from 12:30 to 14:30 PM. Chiron, Varzi, Nuvolari, Campari and Prince Cerami circled around the track. Varzi was timed at 15m03s, 14m24s and 14m19s. Chiron
turned laps of 15m35s and 15m59s. It was the Frenchman's first time at the difficult Montenero circuit and it was obvious that he lacked knowledge about the multitude of twists and ups and downs.
Ghersi changed cars, and now in a Bugatti, turned laps at 16m55s and 15m36s. Campari who continued to drive the tipo A monoposto, turned laps at 14m58s, 14m44s and 14m26s. Prince Cerami was timed
at 16m08s, 16m flat and 15m52s. Nuvolari drove a 15m26s lap, then followed with 14m27s, 14m13s and 14m08s, beating the times established by Varzi, Campari and Borzacchini. Fortuna drove laps at
17m43s and 17m55s, while Corsi lapped at 18m59s.
Friday was the third and last day of practice. Many drivers were on the circuit and the following times were established. Nuvolari 14m28s, Count Gyulai 16m05s, Matrullo 17m41s, Lami with the
1100 cc car 19m04s, Chiron 14m48s, Carraroli 16m39s, Fagioli 14m18s, Cortese 14m42s and Severi 15m39s. Varzi was registered three times with laps of 14m13s, twice at 14m02s and once even at 14
minutes flat. Campari turned a lap at 14m37s with the 8C2300 Monza on loan from the factory. Corrado Filippini reported that Campari decided in the last moment not to race the tipo A monoposto
during the race for unknown reasons.
A crowd of over 100,000 witnessed the race, which was attended by the donor of the Cup, Minister of Communications Count Costanzo Ciano di Cortelazzo and Countess Carolina, the Countess Maria Ciano
di Cortellazzo, Vincenzo Florio President of the RACI Sporting Commission, the Prince and Princess di Pimonte and other luminaries.
From 63 entries some drivers did not appear or did not start. Consequently only 42 cars started, 14 in the class up to 1100 cc were present at the start area and behind them 28 large cars over
1100 cc. They were released in groups of three at an interval of one minute between each trio. This system was used as a safety precaution. Although the circuit had been shortened, resurfaced
and corners rounded, it was still a very narrow road and difficult for drivers to pass each other. AUTOMOBIL-REVUE reported that the small cars up to 1100 cc started first and took off at 15:30.
At 15:34 when the last of the small cars had left the start area, the long anticipated big cars were to show their mettle.
The first row of Biondetti, Ghersi and Borzacchini was followed after one minute by Campari, Varzi and Fagioli. The third row consisted of Conte Cerami, Chiron and and Jonoch. Nuvolari started in
the fourth row. When the cars returned from the first lap, Varzi and Fagioli were in the lead, next to each other both with the same time of 14m32s. Chiron was doing remarkably well for someone
who had never raced at Montenero before. Only 3 seconds slower than Varzi in a similar car and 8 seconds faster than Nuvolari, though the latter may have been held up by slower cars due to his
fourth row start. During the lap Severi left the road. Klinger (Alfa Romeo) also retired after the first lap. The top drivers of the three makes had taken the front positions in the following order:
|4.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)||14m43s|
|5.||Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)||14m45s|
|6.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)||15m09s|
At the end of the second lap, Varzi still held the lead. Nuvolari had moved from fourth into second place, reducing his gap to the leader from 11 to just four seconds with a lap of 14m21s.
Chiron remained third and Fagioli fell back to fourth position, while Borzacchini retired with a clutch problem. Campari advanced to fifth, followed by Biondetti, Minozzi, Ghersi, Cortese and
|2.||Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)|
|5.||Campari (Alfa Romeo)|
|9.||Cortese (Alfa Romeo)|
After the third lap Nuvolari was battling Varzi for the lead, instigating another battle of the leading Alfa and Bugatti drivers. They were clearly the fastest runners in the race. But a
surprising incident brought an end to their fight, when Varzi slowed down and arrived with a flat tire at the pits. The fact that he was forced to drive slowly back to the pits plus the resultant
tire change cost him over five minutes and robbed him of a possible victory. Varzi had fallen back to eighth position. Fagioli could not maintain Nuvolari's pace due to a slipping clutch, which
made it impossible to keep going at his early pace. Chiron, although driving very well, was not going to endanger Nuvolari. He was just not fast enough similarly Campari, Ghersi, Biondetti and
On the third, fourth and fifth laps Nuvolari made very fast times of 14m16s, 14m15s and finally an amazing 14m08s. So, after five laps Nuvolari was 1m03s ahead of Chiron and about two minutes
ahead of Fagioli in third place. After an even faster sixth lap in 14m06s Nuvolari's advantage over Chiron increased to 1m11s and on lap seven his lead had grown by another six seconds. Since
he had started only one row behind Chiron, Nuvolari was now ahead of him on the road. The importance of this was that Chiron's pit could give their driver an up-to-date signal of Nuvolari's progress.
After the eighth lap the Mantuan's advantage grew another four seconds, while Varzi gained fifth position. On the ninth lap, Nuvolari further increased his lead over Chiron while Varzi in fifth
place established a new record lap of 14m00.6s, compared with Nuvolari's best of 14m06s. Fagioli held on to third place while Campari maintained fourth ahead of Varzi.
During the tenth and last lap Chiron produced an absolutely excellent performance considering that he was new at this long twisting circuit. His fastest lap in 14m08.6s helped him to reduce
Nuvolari's advantage of 1m31s to just 44 seconds. However, the main reason why Chiron came so close to Nuvolari was that the Mantuan had a small road accident on the tenth lap while coming down
from the mountains. He lost valuable seconds as a result of damaging his car and having to slow his pace. The loudspeakers at the grandstand announced that Chiron had just passed Nuvolari coming
down from the mountains. The enthusiasm of the Italian public rapidly dwindled away. Possibly the Italian's victory was now in question? But the first place for Nuvolari was not necessarily
lost, since he had started one minute behind Chiron. When the Frenchman arrived and passed the finish line, great tension built up with the crowd in anticipation, concerned that Nuvolari would
not reach the finish within the one minute. But then, 16 seconds later, there was great jubilation as Nuvolari reached the line as victor still 44 seconds ahead of Chiron, who was an honorable
second. Fagioli, who maintained his third position, had to deal with a slipping clutch, but had no problem staying ahead of Campari and Varzi. Biondetti and Ghersi in seventh and eighth position
retired as a result of accidents. Cortese held sixth position, while in seventh place was the skillful' D'Ippolito in the first of the 1750 Alfas. Notable were also Fontana, Taruffi, Castelbarco
and Carraroli in the next places. However, Fontana was disqualified for being relieved by Balestrero away from the pits, which was a rule violation.
The 1100 cc small car class, as anticipated, was won by Premoli in the Salmson monoposto. Premoli prevailed despite a rather chaotic race with stops at the pits to change plugs. On the last lap
barely half a kilometer from the finish a crash between Premoli and Ferrari during their neck and neck race for first position brought both to a stop. Premoli recovered and finished two seconds
ahead of Ferrari in his so-called Talbot 1100, which used a modified 1500 Talbot engine in a 1500 Bugatti chassis. The Roman Matrullo ended up third in a rather old Salmson amongst his opponents
with the latest supercharged cars. Pratesi and Cioni were the last finishers in this class.
Results, class over 1100 cc
Results, class up to 1100 cc
The starting grids, arranged in numerical order, were initially incomplete because race numbers for five late entry drivers could not be verified. With a June 2013 update all race numbers could be
confirmed thanks to Alessandro Silva with information primarily from Gazzetta dello Sport. Thereafter we completed the starting grids, adding seven small cars and 11 large ones.
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Automobile Club Livorno manifestazioni
AZ - Motorwelt, Brno
IL LITTORIALE, Roma
IL TELEGRAFO, Livorno
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
La Domenica Sportiva, Milano
LA STAMPA, Torino
Manifesto by RACI & Moto Club Livorno
Motor Sport, London
MOTOR und SPORT, Pössneck
RACI settimanale, Roma
Tutti Gli Sportz, Napoli
Special thanks to:
Biblioteca Labronica 'F.D. Guerrazzi'
Dott.ssa Alessandra Stoppa