VIII° COPPA CIANO
Montenero - Livorno (I), 22 July 1934
GP: 12 laps x 20.0 km (12.4 mi) = 240.0 km (149.1 mi)
1100cc: 8 laps x 20.0 km (12.4 mi) = 160.0 km (99.4 mi)
Varzi wins the Coppa Ciano, Malaguti wins 1100 class
by Hans Etzrodt
The 1934 Coppa Ciano over 12 laps was a minor event. Of the 19 starters 14 were Alfa Romeos, three were Maseratis and two Bugattis. Nuvolari (Maserati) led the first three laps before Moll (Alfa Romeo) took the lead.
Nuvolari led again on the 5th lap but then Moll passed him again and held first place until lap 10, when he stopped to replace a damaged wheel. Varzi (Alfa Romeo) then led the last two laps and won the race ahead of Moll
and Nuvolari, followed by the Alfa Romeos of Trossi, Barbieri, Farina, Magistri, Cornaggia and Pages in ninth place. There were ten retirements amongst them the Alfa Romeos of Minozzi and Balestrero. The 13 cars of the
1100 class raced concurrently, but only over 8 laps. Malaguti (Maserati) dominated the class and won ahead of Matrullo (Maserati), Mallucci (Fiat), Toti (Maserati), Nenzioni (Rocca-Fiat) and Corrado (Fiat). Seven cars
retired including the Frenchman Chambost (Salmson).
The Montenero circuit races outside 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 - Castellaccio - and back to Ardenza Mare. The 1934 event was the 14th time that the race was held on the Circuito del Montenero. The organizers named it incorrectly as the 14th
Coppa Ciano, but in reality, 1934 was the 8th Coppa Ciano. The Coppa or trophy was donated by the 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.
Earl Howe described the circuit in his memoirs which were published in The Motor in October of 1933: "This circuit is a long triangle over a very narrow road, with an immense number of hairpin bends, rising to a height of
about 3,000 to 4,000 ft. and dropping back from that height to about sea level. The road is very narrow all round and extremely bumpy. There are many very severe corners with a drop of several thousand feet on one side;
in fact, there are plenty of parts of the circuit where any mistake would be the last."
The R. A. C. I. (Reale Automobile Club Italia) together with the Moto Club Livorno organized the Coppa Ciano race, which counted towards the Italian championship. The participating cars were divided into classes of up to
1100 cc and over 1100 cc, whereby the small cars had to complete eight laps of the 20 km circuit, a total of 160 km, while the large cars finish 12 laps or 240 km.
The total prize money amounted to 150,000 lire. The winner received 40,000 and the Coppa Ciano, second 20,000 and the Coppa Mussolini, third 10,000, fourth 8,000, fifth 7,000, sixth 6,000, seventh 5,000, eighth 4,000,
ninth 3,000 and tenth 2,000 lire. For the 1100 class three prizes were available: 3,500 lire for first, 2,500 for second and 2,000 for third.
There were three prizes for the independent drivers: 5,000 lire for first, 4,000 for second and 3,000 for third. They could be combined with the previous prizes. In addition, 25,000 lire would be divided among the
Scuderia Ferrari entered three Alfa Romeo 2.9-L Tipo B/P3 for Achille Varzi, the Algerian Guy Moll and Carlo Felice Trossi and a 2.6-L of the same type for Ferdinando Barbieri. Giordano "Nando"Aldrighetti, a Scuderia
Ferrari Motorcyclist since 1932, made his race car debut and was assigned a 2.6-L 8C Monza. Nuvolari was the Scuderia's only serious opponent with his Maserati 8 CM. The Mantuan was still suffering from the after effects
of his Alessandria crash three months earlier where he suffered a double fracture of the left leg and other injuries. The Maserati Works entered an 8C-3000 for Giuseppe Tuffanelli which was a special works car usually
raced by Zehender during 1934. Secondo Corsi did not race here but entered his 8C-2800 Maserati for his mechanic Giovanni Barsotti. The 8C-2800 and 8C-3000 Maseratis were based on the 26M chassis, which originally had
an 8C-2500 engine. Giacomo Palmieri entered a T35C Bugatti but no details are known of the other two Bugatti entries.
The remaining cars comprised various Alfa Romeos, amongst them Renato Balestrero with a 2600 Monza entered by Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio who also entered a 2300 Monza for Amaldo Sciutti. Scuderia Siena had a 2300 Monza
for Giovanni Minozzi. The independent Giovanni Cornaggia Medici entered an 8C-2300 spider, the Mille Miglia version, and Luigi Pages had a 2300 Monza. Costantino Magistri had a 6C-1750 GS. Scuderia Subalpina entered
2300 Monzas for Giuseppe Farina and Count Luigi della Chiesa. Renato Danese had a 2300 Monza.
The 1100 class included the new Rocca car with a Fiat 508 engine for Cleto Nenzioni while Landi's #60 Rocca had an 1100 cc Maserati engine. These cars looked similar to the Maseratis, but they were constructed in Bologna
by a modest craftsman. The French driver Raymond Albert Chambost with a Salmson was the only foreigner in the 1100 car field. A complete list of entries is shown at the beginning of this report.
On Friday many drivers were practicing on the circuit. All the Scuderia Ferrari drivers arrived on Thursday night. On Friday morning their most formidable opponent, Nuvolari arrived with his Maserati. The Mantuan, who
practiced at dawn, took to the circuit when there were no timekeepers or spectators and he drove for a long time. As a result it was not possible to report his times. Later at 1:00 PM, Nuvolari presented himself at the
Ardenza finish line, but not to practice again, rather to observe the performance of his opponents. In the hours set for the practice sessions, the five Scuderia Ferrari drivers took to the track and practiced several
times. Varzi first managed a lap in 14m30s, then one in 14m13s. Trossi, who had started with a 15m18s lap, improved easily to 14m07s; Barbieri, after a 14m57s lap, managed 14m31s; Aldrighetti, starting from from 16m29s
dropped to 15m35s and ended with 15m18s. Moll's practice times were followed with particular interest. The Algerian improved from one lap to the next: 15m10s; 15m; 14m50s; 14m26s and finally 14m11. The best time made
by Corsi was 16m25s, who drove his Maserati in practice but for the race he gave the car to his mechanic, Giovanni Barsotti. Malaguti did 16m30s, Palmieri 16m07s, Danese 16m02s and Pages 15m58s. Finally Farina, one of
the Scuderia Subalpina drivers, awaited the arrival of his car and drove with a Fiat Balilla instead. His best time was in 18 minutes. After practice, Varzi was convinced that the existing records would not be broken
because he realized that it was not possible to go any faster than the times achieved.
Premoli Rocco and Minucci did not start which left 19 cars to line up on the grid as follows:
At 3:40 PM Miss Letta, the young daughter of the Prefect of Livorno, gave the signal to start. Tuffanelli and Minozzi led the way, then Cornaggia and Trossi, all from the first row. Due to a misleading starting signal
the first two may have jumped the start. Nuvolari made a slow start and two cars passed him. Varzi in the fourth row stalled the engine and was delayed for about ten seconds. He was now 18 seconds behind the leading car,
so his race began with an unexpected handicap. It had been said that other drivers had left before the signal to start but some said this was not true. This small chronometric episode raised some discussion amongst the
race officials and in the press, but then, the sensible proposal prevailed not to penalize anyone.
In the meantime the cars of the 1100 class had lined up on the grid. Since Bagnoli, Bonetto and Morini did not appear the field was down to 13 cars in the following order:
After an interval of four minutes the 1100 class was started, with Malaguti in front, followed by Mallucci and Magretti.
After the 1st lap, great applause welcomed Nuvolari who covered the 20 km in 14m23s at 85.410 km/h average speed. He was five seconds ahead of Trossi in 14m28s, followed by Moll in 14m54s, Minozzi 15m10s, Barbieri 15m26s
and in sixth place Varzi in 15m37s having passed 12 cars. After his delayed start, Varzi was 1m24s behind the leader on the difficult and tortuous ups and downs of the narrow road of Romito. Danese retired his Alfa Romeo
with a broken connecting rod, while Furmanik and Giovannelli retired in the 1100 class. Malaguti in the potent Maserati led the 1100 cc field, followed closely by the Salmson of Chambost.
Nuvolari completed his second lap in 13m54s increasing his lead, but Trossi was no longer second as he had slowed with a supercharger problem. He was passed by the determined Moll who was now second, 19 seconds behind the
Mantuan, while Varzi held 4th place. Aldrighetti retired on the second lap due to mechanical failure. In the 1100 class Malaguti led ahead of Chambost, Matrullo and Mallucci.
On the 3rd lap, Moll made the fastest lap of the day in 13m47s at 87.060 km/h average speed. Only six seconds separated him from Nuvolari whose time was 42m29s, Moll 42m35s, Trossi 43m14s and Varzi 43m41s, who was now
1m12s behind Nuvolari. On this lap, Barsotti (Maserati) retired with spark plug trouble and Lami (Bugatti) ended his race with a gearbox problem.
Malaguti still led the 1100 field with his Maserati and Chambost had caught up with Malaguti and had an identical time of 49m03s but did not pass him. Matrullo followed in third ahead of Mallucci. Corrado and Nenzioni
stopped at the pits and Magretti retired on the circuit.
On the 4th lap Moll passed Nuvolari and was 3 seconds ahead of the Mantuan at the end of the lap. But it was Varzi who amazed everyone; in one lap he took 13 seconds from Nuvolari. It was a fight between a formidable
trio of champions, Nuvolari, Moll and Varzi, each of them making the maximum effort. Barbieri (Bugatti) fell behind due to escaping hot oil roasting his foot. Moll's average lap time for the first 4 laps was 14m08s.
After 80 km, it was the midrace for the 1100 class, when the order was as follows after 4 laps:
|1.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||56m32s|
|3.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||57m28s|
|4.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||57m34s|
|5.||Barbieri (Alfa Romeo)||59m31s|
|6.||Minozzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h00m21s|
|7.||Balestrero (Alfa Romeo)||1h01m22s|
|8.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||1h01m40s|
|10.||Malaguti (Maserati)||1100 class||1h05m02s|
|11.||Chambost (Salmson)||1100 class||1h05m19s|
|12.||Pages (Alfa Romeo)||1h05m22s|
|13.||Magistri (Alfa Romeo)||1h05m39s|
|14.||Pages (Alfa Romeo)||1h05m22s|
|15.||Matrullo (Maserati)||1100 class||1h06m02s|
|16.||della Chiesa (Alfa Romeo)||1h06m53s|
|17.||Cornaggia (Alfa Romeo)||1h06m55s|
|18.||Malucci (Fiat)||1100 class||1h07m54s|
|19.||Sciutti (Alfa Romeo)||1h11m01s||1 lap behind|
|20.||Palmieri (Bugatti)||1h11m19s||1 lap behind|
|21.||Nenzioni (Rocca-Fiat)||1100 class||1h16m14s||1 lap behind|
|22.||Corrado (Fiat)||1100 class||1h21m30s||1 lap behind|
On the 5th lap, Nuvolari managed a lap in 13m57s and recaptured the lead. By the end of the lap he was 11 seconds ahead of Moll, who had a time of 14m11s. Varzi's gap was 1m14s to Nuvolari and 53s to Moll. Palmieri
(Bugatti) retired on lap 5 but since he was one lap down he had completed only 3 laps. The Alfa Romeos of Balestrero and della Chiesa retired at their pits, the former with a mechanical problem. The field was now down
to 12 cars.
Malaguti still led the 1100s with his Maserati, but Chambost retired his Salmson due to an unknown failure on the 5th lap when Matrullo took over second place.
On lap six, Moll drove a lap in 13m50s with a race time of 1h24m33s at 85.153 km/h average speed. He had a lead of 21 seconds over Nuvolari in 1h24m54s. The Mantuan had signaled to his pit that he had a front axle
problem, and that he was concerned about too much play in the steering wheel. The circuit was among the most tiring in Europe and from this point forward Nuvolari had to accept coming third. Even Trossi in fourth place,
after his brilliant start, could not maintain his early pace and gradually lost ground. Farina in 7th place had two contacts with crash barriers without serious consequences and was recovering lost ground. Tuffanelli
was 8th. Moll led Varzi by 41 seconds after the 6th lap. At mid-race, after 120 km, Moll led with an average of 85.153 km/h with the front runners in the following order after six laps:
|1.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h24m33s|
|3.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h25m14s|
|4.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||1h26m21s|
|5.||Sciutti (Alfa Romeo)||1h28m15s|
|6.||Barbieri (Alfa Romeo)||1h29m00s|
|7.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)|
On the 7th lap Moll drove a lap in 13m58s while his race time was 1h38m31s, Varzi lapped in 13m52s with a race time of 1h39m06s. There were now 35 seconds between Moll and Varzi, the latter had passed Nuvolari for
At the end of the 8th lap the cars in the 1100 class ended their race. Malaguti finished first after 2h09m39.2s at 74.043 km/h average speed and Matrullo (Maserati) was second over two minutes behind. Third was
Mallucci's Fiat "Balilla" ahead of Toti's Maserati. Nenzioni finished in fifth place in the new Rocca - which had made its debut. Corrado's Fiat was the last finisher in sixth place. Furmanik, who was the favorite in
this class, retired on the first lap due to a slight accident. The previous records were not beaten.
Tuffanelli retired on lap eight but since he had been lapped, he had completed only six laps. Moll drove his 8th lap in 14m06s but Varzi drove his in 13m59s, so now there was only 28 seconds between them. Varzi had a
lead of more than one minute over Nuvolari who had slowed noticeably. Moll's average lap time for the first 8 laps was 15m20s. After 160 km, Moll led the field in following order after eight laps:
|1.||Moll (Alfa Romeo)||1h52m37s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h52m55s|
|4.||Trossi (Alfa Romeo)||1h56m29s|
|5.||Barbieri (Alfa Romeo)||1h58m40s|
|6.||Minozzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h00m56s|
|7.||Farina (Alfa Romeo)||2h01m39s|
|8.||Pages (Alfa Romeo)||2h09m13s||1 lap behind|
|9.||Magistri (Alfa Romeo)||2h09m35s||1 lap behind|
|10.||Cornaggia (Alfa Romeo)||2h13m25s||1 lap behind|
|11.||Sciutti (Alfa Romeo)||2h16m52s||1 lap behind|
On the 9th lap there were only 23 seconds between Moll and Varzi, who had made up five seconds. By means of hand signals Varzi reported to the pits the condition of his tires. Cautious and alert as ever, he preferred to
slow down his race pace rather than stop at the pits to change wheels which could have compromised his race. He kept his attention on Moll and adjusted his speed to that of his opponent. Minozzi and Sciutti retired on
lap nine but they had completed only seven laps, beause both had been lapped once.
On the 10th lap nine cars still remained in the race. At the end of the lap Moll arrived several seconds late, stopping at the pits with the left rear wheel clearly buckled. He had damaged the wheel after he emerged
from the curve near Antignano. In an instant the car was lifted up, the defective wheel was replaced, and after 18 seconds the Algerian rejoined the race. The scene was full of excitement. To shouts of enthusiasm and
thunderous applause, Varzi arrived and passed into the lead. When Moll restarted, his small lead had changed into 12 seconds deficit. This was to be the victory of the Italian driver; which was acclaimed by the crowd.
Moll realized that in the two remaining laps, the short gap was unbridgeable and he restarted without excessive force.
At the end of the 12th lap Varzi crossed the finish line as the victor, and Moll followed nine seconds later. Nuvolari finished in third place, Trossi was fourth, Barbieri fifth, Farina sixth and Magistri seventh.
Cornaggia and Pages were flagged off at the end of their 11th lap. The siren with its howl announced the end of the race and the opening of the circuit. The spectators rushed onto the track to see and applaud the
drivers and their cars. Everyone was enthusiastic after watching this exciting race.
The excited crowd erupted in applause for the winner Varzi and for Moll. They were accompanied to the stand of Honor where Costanzo Ciano and all the authorities congratulated them while the tricolor rose on the the
stand and on the control tower. The crowd called loudly for Nuvolari and enthusiastic fans carried him on their shoulders to the stand of honor where the Mantuan, still limping from his injured leg, climbed the steps
to receive the congratulations. Varzi, Moll and Nuvolari united in the joy of triumph in a race superbly and relentlessly fought.
|1.||42||Achille Varzi||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||12||2h49m52.2s|
|2.||44||Guy Moll||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||12||2h50m01.2s||+ 9.0s|
|3.||16||Tazio Nuvolari||T. Nuvolari||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||12||2h53m35.4s||+ 3m43.2s|
|4.||12||Carlo Felice Trossi||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||12||2h58m48.0s||+ 8m55.8s|
|5.||20||Ferdinando Barbieri||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.6||S-8||12||2h59m07.8s||+ 9m15.6s|
|6.||36||Giuseppe Farina||Scuderia Subalpina||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||12||3h00m54.4s||+ 11m02.2s|
|7.||22||Costantino Magistri||C. Magistri||Alfa Romeo||6C 1750 GS||1.8||S-6||12||3h13m43.0s||+ 23m50.8s|
|8.||10||G. Cornaggia-Medici||Giovanni Cornaggia-Medici||Alfa Romeo||8C-2300 spider||2.3||S-8||11||3h04m03.0s|
|9.||14||Luigi Pages||L. Pages||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||11||3h06m41.0s|
|DNF||2||Giovanni Minozzi||Scuderia Siena||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||7||drive shaft|
|DNF||18||Arnaldo Sciutti||Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||7|
|DNF||4||Giuseppe Tuffanelli||Officine Alfieri Maserati||Maserati||8C-3000||3.0||S-8||6|
|DNF||38||Luigi della Chiesa||Scuderia Subalpina||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.3||S-8||4|
|DNF||34||Renato Balestrero||Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||4||mechanial|
|DNF||26||Giacomo Palmieri||G. Palmieri||Bugatti||2.0||S-8||3|
|DNF||28||Catullo Lami||C. Lami||Bugatti||T35C||2.0||S-8||2||gearbox|
|DNF||24||Giovanni Barsotti||Secondo Corsi||Maserati||8C-2800||2.8||S-8||2||spark plugs|
|DNF||40||Giordano Aldrighetti||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||1||mechanical|
|DNF||32||Renato Danese||R. Danese||Alfa Romeo||Monza||2.6||S-8||0||connecting rod|
Fastest lap: Guy Moll (Alfa Romeo) on lap 3 in 13m47s = 87.1 km/h (54.1 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 84.8 km/h (52.7 mph)
Weather: sunny and warm
|1.||74||Romano Malaguti||R. Malaguti||Maserati||4CS||1.1||S-4||8||2h09m39.2s|| |
|2.||72||Francesco Matrullo||F. Matrullo||Maserati||4CM||1.1||S-4||8||2h12m05.8s||+ 2m26.6s|
|3.||68||Victor-Hugo Mallucci||V. Mallucci||Fiat||508S Balilla||1.0||S-4||8||2h14m10.8s||+ 4n31.6s|
|4.||64||Raffaele Toti||Gruppo Genovese San Giorgio||Maserati||4CM||1.1||S-4||8||2h19m11.4s||+ 9m32.2s|
|5.||52||Cleto Nenzioni||Amadeo Rocca||Rocca-Fiat||1.0||S-4||8||2h28m46.8s||+ 19m07.6s|
|6.||54||Lorenzo Corrado||L. Corrado||Fiat||508S||1.0||S-4||8||2h34m05.4s||+ 24m26.2s|
|DNF||62||Raymond Chambost||R. Albert Chambost||Salmson||1.1||S-4||4|| || |
|DNF||66||Biagio Magretti||B. Magretti||Fiat||508S||1.0||S-4||2|| || |
|DNF||58||Emilio Ruggeri||E. Ruggeri||Fiat||508S||1.0||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||70||Raffaele Cecchini||R. Cecchini||MG||K3 Magnette||1.1||S-6||1|| || |
|DNF||60||Guido Landi||Amadeo Rocca||Rocca-Maserati|| ||1.1||S-4||1|| || |
|DNF||80||Filiberto Giovannelli||P. Ermini||PE-Fiat||1.0||S-4||0|| || |
|DNF||78||Giuseppe Furmanik||G. Furmanik||Maserati||4CM||1.1||S-4||0||crash|| |
Fastest lap: Romano Malaguti (Maserati) on lap 1 in 15m55.6s = 75.3 km/h (46.8 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 74.0 km/h (46.0 mph)
Weather: sunny and warm
Primary sources researched for this article:|
IL LITTORIALE, Roma
La Domenica Sportiva, Milano
La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milano
La Stampa, Torino
L'Auto Italiana, Milano
Le Venezie Sportive, Venezia
Motor Sport, London
RACI settimanale, Roma
Special thanks to:
V GRAND PRIX DE BELGIQUE
Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), 29 July 1934
40 laps x 14.864 km (9.236 mi) = 594.6 km (359.4 mi) (Note 1)
Bugatti's last grande épreuve victory
by Leif Snellman
Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union withdrew and only seven cars took part in the race that started in rainy weather. The Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos of Chiron and Varzi took control of the first half of the race while
Bugatti drivers Benoist, Dreyfus and Brivio had bad spare plug problems demanding multiple pit stops that put them far behind the Alfa Romeos. Halfway through the race Chiron made a mistake and crashed. Varzi
took over the lead until his car broke down. Dreyfus found to his surprise that he was leading with his team mate Brivio second and Sommer in a Maserati third and that is how they finished. With some good luck
Benoist survived an incident late in the race that could have ended badly.
The Belgian Grand Prix, run by the Royal Automobile Club de Belgique (RACB) was run to the international 750 kg rules and considered a Grandes Épreuve. Spa-Francorchamps was competing with Reims about
being the fastest race course in Europe. For 1934 the circuit was thus vastly improved and was much faster than hitherto. The Malmèdy corner was eased to a fast bend, the Stavelot turn was eased as well and
slightly banked, and the hairpin at la Source got wider and more steeply banked than before. The new circuit length was 14.864 km. The race distance was 40 laps.
Prizes offered were 50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 francs for the top three finishers.
At 3 p.m. on Thursday Mr. Langlois, the president of the RACB, announced that Mercedes-Benz had officially withdrawn their entry and that Auto Union was expected to do the same. Officially Mercedes-Benz announced
that due to the tight race schedule they did not have time to make their cars ready and Auto Union claimed their drivers needed a rest. It has been said that the real reason was that Belgian customs had asked the
German teams to pay 180,000 francs duty for the 3000 litres of their alcohol based special fuel. L'Auto however claimed that that problem had been sorted out by Mr. Langlois.
Nuvolari with his Maserati had the bad luck to take the way from Italy through Austria and was hindered by the "July Putsch" and the murder of Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss that ended up with the Italian and Austrian
armies deploying against each other on the border. Hamilton and "Delmo", who were listed as expected competitors, never turned up either.
That left seven entries. Bugatti sent a full team with three T59s for their drivers Robert Benoist, René Dreyfus and Antonio Brivio with Jean-Pierre Wimille as reserve. The Bugatti cars had suffered badly during the
French Grand Prix from carburetion trouble when coming out of slow corners and it was hoped that the fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit with only one really slow corner should fit the cars better.
Possibly expecting to meet the German teams Scuderia Ferrari entered just two cars for Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi with the expected Guy Moll not taking part in the race.
Raymond Sommer entered his Maserati 8CM two-seater (#3006). The last entry was Charles Montier with his "Montier Speciale" based on a Ford V8. He entered the car in the in a hope that amateur drivers would show
their interest and buy one of his cars for the Spa 24 hour race.
Sunday came with overcast, threatening, windy weather. At the last moment, as the cars lined up in the grid, a fine rain began to fall.
As one could expect Chiron made the best start to lead the cars towards Eau-Rouge followed by Dreyfus, Varzi, Brivio, Benoist, Sommer and Montier. Chiron made the first lap at 5m57s (149.9 km/h) already beating
Nuvolari's old lap record (6m01s) despite the rain and a standing start (but remember that the improved circuit was shorter and faster). Dreyfus followed two seconds behind him with Varzi a further two seconds
back in third position.
The troubles for the Bugatti team immediately started as Brivio stopped in the pit to change spark plugs. As at the French Grand Prix the plugs on the front cylinders were clogged.
On the second lap Chiron started to pull away, improving the lap record to 5m51s (152.5 km/h) and leaving Dreyfus 16 seconds behind. Brivio stopped again to change spark plugs as did his team mate Benoist.
On the third lap Chiron went still faster bringing the lap record down to 5m47s (154.2 km/h). Varzi was up to second position 40 seconds behind as it was Dreyfus' turn to stop for new spark plugs. The race order
was Chiron, Varzi, Sommer, Benoist, Dreyfus, Brivio and Montier.
After four laps Chiron led by 56 seconds over his team mate. Brivio and Dreyfus continued to make pit stops. After six laps of the Bugatti drivers Brivio had made three stops with a combined time of 5m26s, Dreyfus
three stops as well for a combined time of 5m22s and Benoist one 1m05s stop. Add to these 32 seconds to enter and exit the pit for each stop. Everything thus looked like that it would be an easy victory for the
Scuderia Ferrari team.
Benoist took over third position from Sommer but on the 8th laps Benoist had to stop in the pit again, this time staying for a long time and losing three laps. (Note 3)
After 10 laps Chiron was leading Varzi by 1m06s. Sommer in third position was the only other driver on the same lap.
The order after 10 laps:
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||58m48s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||59m54s|
|3.||Sommer (Maserati) ||1h03m32s|
|4.||Brivio (Bugatti) ||1h06m44s|
|5.||Dreyfus (Bugatti) ||1h07m52s|
The rain increased and the drivers were slowing down, the Alfa Romeos increasing their lap times to some 6m15s. Sommer in third position was making laps around 6m45s - 6m50s and at the 13th lap Chiron caught
him and put him a lap down. After 15 laps Chiron led by 1m02s over his team-mate. The race order after 15 laps was :
|1.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||1h30m12s|
|2.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||1h31m14s|
Halfway through the race it was time for the fuel stops. Leading by 54 seconds Chiron made his stop on the 19th lap. He stayed in the pit for 81 seconds returning to the circuit behind Varzi. However, Chiron
soon realized he had forgotten to adjust his shock absorbers, which were too tight now, because the water had inflated the wooden friction disks and made the car hard to handle with full tanks. At the end of
the 20th lap race leader Varzi made his fuel stop. Chiron passed the line 41 seconds behind him:
|1.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h01m36s|
|2.||Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||2h02m17s|
Chiron, who had planned to stop again to adjust the shock absorbers, noticed that the pit crew was busy with Varzi and decided to continue one more lap. Exiting the chicane near Eau Rouge he made a mistake
in the following left hander and entered the grass. A rear wheel hit a stone and the car overturned making a double roll fortunately ending up over a small gully that saved the driver from being crushed.
Chiron could return to the pit on foot with only a slight contusion of the knee.
The other cars made their pit stops as well. Sommer's stop on lap 22 was particularly long and he dropped behind the Bugattis of Dreyfus and Brivio.
The rain had stopped and with the sun appearing the circuit was drying up. Even when Varzi now had a comfortable 11 minutes lead he went on to make a new lap record on the 25th lap with a time of
5m46s (154.7 km/h).
The situation after 25 laps looked like this:
|1.||Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||2h33m06s|
On lap 28 Varzi made a pit stop with thick smoke coming from the exhaust. After a plug change he left the pit, but stopped again at the next lap with the cockpit full of oily fumes. After a long delay
the car was retired, officially with a broken oil pipe but most suspected it to have been a blown engine.
Suddenly the race order had changed dramatically with Dreyfus leading Brivio. After 30 laps the gap between them was 14 seconds. Sommer had a secure third position even when he was losing some 45 seconds
a lap to the three Bugattis, which were making laps around 6 minutes. The order after 30 laps:
Dreyfus held on to his lead but Brivio did not admit defeat and started to close in on his team-mate. On the 34th lap he made a new lap record of 5m45s (155.1 km/h). Bugatti team manager Bartolomeo
"Meo" Constantini got alarmed as this endangered a certain 1-2 finish and immediately ordered Brivio to slow down.
The race order at 35 laps looked like this with Dreyfus back in a 16s lead.
Back in the field Benoist was going at least as fast as his team-mates, putting in laps around 6 minutes flat. On the 36th lap he passed Sommer's Maserati on the track. However Benoist knew that Sommer still
was one lap in front of him and he had hardly any hope of bettering his 4th position. The two cars followed each other past Burnenville, where the Dutch motorcyclist Arie van der Pluym had crashed fatally two
weeks earlier, and started downhill at full speed entering a part of the circuit that in classical Spa-Francorchamps way just had been hit by a local rain shower. Benoist's Bugatti spun around and started to
slide backwards at 180 km/h. On one side of the road there was a high bank, on the other a mound that was separated from the circuit by a deep ditch. By luck the car left the road at a 10 meter section where
the ditch and the mound were smoothed out and the car came to rest on a field with only a damaged wheel. Following 200 meters behind Benoist Sommer had seen the Bugatti driver losing control and he had
immediately raised his foot from the accelerator. The rear wheels of the Maserati had started to slide but somehow Sommer kept the car on the road.
After some work with the crank Benoist managed to restart the Bugatti, made a pit stop for a wheel change and continued on his 37th lap.
After 40 laps Dreyfus took the chequered flag as the winner. For some reason Brivio lost a lot of time during the last laps and finished 1m51s behind in second position. Sommer in third position, who had
run some 9 minutes behind the leader, was flagged off after 39 laps. Due to the accident Benoist's two last laps had taken almost 22 minutes. He had lost another 1 ½ lap on the others and took the flag after
37 laps. Finally Montier, who had not made much impression by his speed but had gained respect by looking at the mirrors and giving a lot of room for the other cars to pass, finished fifth 10 laps behind the winner.
At the end of the race a part of the chronometer gallery over the pits collapsed. Luckily no one was hurt.
|1.||4||René Dreyfus||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||40||4h15m03.8s|
|2.||6||Antonio Brivio||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||40||4h16m54.8s||+ 1m51.0s|
|3.||12||Raymond Sommer||R. Sommer||Maserati||8CM||3.0||S-8||39||4h18m27.2s|
|4.||2||Robert Benoist||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59||3.3||S-8||37||4h20m22.0s|
|5.||24||Charles Montier||C. Montier||Montier-Ford||Speciale||3.6||V-8||30||4h23m25.0s|
|DNF||16||Achille Varzi||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||29||engine|
|DNF||14||Louis Chiron||Scuderia Ferrari||Alfa Romeo||Tipo B/P3||2.9||S-8||20||crash|
Fastest lap: Antonio Brivio (Bugatti) on lap 34 in 5m45.0s = 155.1 km/h (96.4 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 139.9 km/h (86.9 mph)
Weather: rain for the first half of the race, local showers near the end.
|Brivio (Bugatti)||5m45s||155.1 km/h|
|Varzi (Alfa Romeo)||5m46s||154.7 km/h|
|Chiron (Alfa Romeo)||5m47s||154.2 km/h|
|Benoist (Bugatti)||5m50s||152.8 km/h|
|Dreyfus (Bugatti)||5m52s||152.0 km/h|
|Sommer (Maserati)||6m15s||142.7 km/h|
L'Auto made a great number of the speed of the Bugatti cars against the Alfa Romeos and Brivio's fastest lap, showing sector times from Eau Rouge as proof and predicting more victories in the
future for the Bugatti cars. Of course there is not much idea to try to compare lap times from a rainy race. In fact this proved to be Bugatti's last grande épreuve victory.
L'Auto also called it a "quality race" and Motor Sport was on the same line: "Surely no race which promised such little interest ever produced so much excitement.". Automobil-Revue had a different
opinion: "The Belgian Grand Prix was, one can hardly express it otherwise, a painful fiasco for motor sport."
The race numbers for the German teams in the entry list is from Paul Sheldon's book. I have not been able to confirm them from any other source and I wonder why they were assigned race numbers,
while entries like Moll, Nuvolari, Hamilton and Delmo that remained on L'Auto's list after the German teams had withdrawn were not assigned any.
1. Course length counted from data in The Motor and Motor Sport
2. Grid recontructed from pictures shown during a discussion at the Atlas Nostalgia Forum. Thank you all who participated!
3. The reports contradict themselves here as the Motor says Benoist had stopped past the pits with gearbox trouble and had been forced to run back to the pit for tools, while other sources
agree that the trouble was a broken throttle control. L'Auto also says he had to work alone but is then specific about the stops saying he had stopped for 19m17s or a total of 20m54s indicating
three 32 seconds entries and exits, i.e. three pit stops (don't know if the stop on lap two was included). If in the pit, why did the driver have to work alone? If he had stopped on the
track, how could they give the exact pit stop times with entries and exits?
Primary sources researched for this article:|
Motor und Sport, Pössneck
Echo de Paris, Paris
Le Matin, Paris
El Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona
IL Littoriale, Roma
The Motor, London
Motor Sport, London
6 August 1934: The B.A.R.C. August Bank Holiday Meeting was held at Brooklands.|
The handicap races were won by A. Ashton-Rigby (M.G. 1.1L), W. G. Everitt (M.G. 0.7L), O. Bertram (Delage 10.7L),
D. N. Letts (M.G. Midget 0.7L), H. W. Cook (ERA 1.1L), J. Cobb (Napier-Railton 23.9L), W. E. Humpreys (Alvis 1.5L),
R. J. Munday (leyland Thomas 7.3L), T. S. Fothringham (Bugatti 2.3L), A. Esson Scott (Bugatti 2.0L) and R. K. Rayson (Riley 1.1L).
12-13 August 1934: The Targa Abruzzo sports car race is held at the Pescara track in Italy:
|24 h, 45 starters|
|1. Cortese/Severi||Alfa Romeo 2300A|
|2. Tadini/Barbieri||Alfa Romeo 2300A|
|3. Rosa/Comotti||Alfa Romeo 2300A|
|4. Howe/Rose||Alfa Romeo 2300A|
|5. Borelli/Lo Prete||Alfa Romeo 2300A|
|6. Carabba/Restelli||Alfa Romeo 1750|