XII° GRAN PREMIO DI TRIPOLI
Autodromo di Mellaha - Tripoli (I), 15 May 1938
40 laps x 13.1 km (8.14 mi) = 524.0 km (325.6 mi) (Note 1)
Mercedes-Benz in its own class.
To get enough cars for the lottery the GP cars and the voiturettes raced together. There was much promise of great racing before the first major event run to the new formula. However, it came to nothing as Alfa Romeos and Maseratis were unable
to keep up with the Mercedes cars in race conditions. With Auto Union absent the Mercedes trio of Lang, von Brauchitsch and Caracciola totally dominated the event.
Two fatal crashes, both happening when a GP car tried to lap a voiturette car, put a dark shadow over the event.
There was much interest in the Tripoli GP as all the new 3 liter cars except for Auto Union were to race each other
for the first time.
There was a thin entry of GP cars so 17 Maserati Voiturette cars with most of the Italian Voiturette elite had to be added
to make the 30 car field necessary for the lottery.
The Auto Union cars were not ready but Maserati introduced their
new 8CTF cars. Drivers were Trossi and, as a surprise, Varzi, whom no one had seen since the Czech GP 1937.
Bugatti had the same car for Wimille as in Pau and Alfa Romeo turned up with an 8 cylinder,
three of the new 12 cylinder plus the first 316 engine in a prototype with a Tipo C chassis
under a 308 body.
Ecurie Bleue came with four(?) cars and three drivers: Dreyfus, Comotti and Schell.
Viotti had designed a streamlined body for one of the cars but its speed turned out to be a disappointment.
Mercedes-Benz wanted to race four cars but were restricted to three. They asked for permission to paint Seaman's car green
and enter him as a semi-works driver but were refused. There was bitterness when the team found out that Sommer raced the
fourth works Alfa Romeo as an "independent".
Mercedes-Benz dominated practice with their W154 cars with Lang taking the pole position with a time only 7 seconds
slower than last year's pole. Biondetti, who was given the 16 cylinder engine because of his Mille Miglia victory, was fastest of the rest
and the new Maseratis showed great promise. However, despite the good lap time the 16 cylinder didn't run properly .
The problems were in overheating and oil scavenge troubles in some corners. So Biondetti used the 8 cyl. 308 spare car
instead during the race.
Cortese proved fastest of the Voiturettes to take the first position behind the GP cars.
During practice Comotti destroyed his engine so Dreyfus let him have his car and took Schell's streamliner instead. (Note 2)
Times from first practice: Lang 3m30.09s, von Brauchitsch 3m30.16s, Caracciola 3m32.75s, Farina 3m36.45s, Trossi 3m38.18s, Siena 3m41.11s, Sommer 3m44.83s, Biondetti 3m45.67s, Dreyfus 3m51.97s, Varzi 4m13,99s.
Voiturette class: Cortese 4m16.22s, Lurani 4m16.57s
The start was scheduled at 3 p.m. but was delayed half an hour while Marshal Balbo inspected the
cars and talked to the drivers.
|* 12 Schell (Delahaye) 3m58.59s DNS|
There was confusion at the start because the Voiturette cars, starting behind the GP cars, were already rolling before the lights turned to green.
A mix of GP and 1.5L cars accelerated towards the first corner and Caracciola found himself trapped behind two
Voiturettes. When the cars had sorted themselves out it was Lang in the lead followed by
Farina, Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Trossi.|
Farina in the 12 cyl. Alfa tried to keep up with Lang but was slowly falling back and instead it was von Brauchitsch
on a two stop strategy against Lang's one stop strategy who took over the lead on lap 4. But soon the Mercedes driver
got engine problems and had to give back the lead to his teammate. The next challenger was Trossi in the new
Maserati who took the lead from Lang and tried to open up a gap.
Behind him followed Lang, Farina, Caracciola, von Brauchitsch, Biondetti, Comotti and Dreyfus.
Luigi Villoresi was first off of the Voiturette cars but was soon passed by Cortese's works Maserati.
There had been much talk about the risks racing GP cars and Voiturettes together on the fast track and on the 8th lap
the first accident occurred as Siena after a blind high speed corner found himself right behind Cortese's Maserati.
The Alfa Romeo driver braked hard and lost control. The car passed over a sand bank and run straight into a house. Siena died
immediately, while Cortese continued leading the Voiturette class unaware of what had happened right behind him.
On lap 8 Trossi made the fastest lap of the race but was unable to shake off Lang. The speed was too much
for the new Maserati and on the next lap Trossi fell back with engine problems and eventually had to retire
with rear axle problems as did Varzi in the second Maserati.
Cortese retired, leaving the fight for the lead in the Voiturette class between Rocco in the second works car and Taruffi.
On the 13th lap a new accident happened. Hartmann with his Maserati 4CM cut the corner in front of Farina's Tipo 312 Alfa.
The two cars collided at high speed and overturned with the wrecks sliding upside down along the track only leaving a
little room in the middle for the other cars.
Caracciola, coming up behind, just managed to squeeze past. Lang came to the place just as he was lapping a voiturette
car and had to stand on the brakes to hinder a new crash. Farina survived the crash without any
major injuries but Hartmann broke his back and died the following morning.
Biondetti, who was having a miserable time in the 8 cylinder Alfa, had to see drivers like Comotti pass.
Sommer was making frequent pitstops with the 12 cylinder car and Dreyfus' streamlined Delahaye was in serious
troubles with overheating. Both Caracciola and von Brauchitsch had engine troubles, the latter having to make three stops.
That left only one healthy GP car on the track, Lang's Mercedes, and Lang made his only pitstop at half distance with a 3 minute
lead. He continued to dominate the race and took the flag to take his second Tripoli GP victory after having lapped all
other cars. Even with engine problems the speed of the Mercedes cars was such that von Brauchitsch and Caracciola were able to
take the other podium places with ease.
Taruffi had beaten Rocco to the flag to take the victory in the Voiturette class.
|1.||46||Hermann Lang||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W154||3.0||V-12||40||2h33m17.14s|
|2.||44||Manfred von Brauchitsch||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W154||3.0||V-12||40||2h37m55.64s||+ 4m38.50s|
|3.||26||Rudolf Caracciola||Daimler-Benz AG||Mercedes-Benz||W154||3.0||V-12||40||2h38m20.76s||+ 5m13.62s|
|4.||48||Raymond Sommer||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||40||2h46m52.82s||+ 13m35.68s|
|5.||54||Piero Taruffi||P. Taruffi||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||40||2h57m47.34s||+ 20m30.30s|
|6.||50||Giovanni Rocco||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||40||2h57m56.34s||+ 24m39.20s|
|7.||60||René Dreyfus||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||40||2h58m06.00s||+ 24m48.86s|
|8.||30||Giovanni Lurani||Scuderia Ambrosiana||Maserati||4CM?||1.5||40||3h03m37.63s||+ 30m20.49s|
|9.||24||Ettore Bianco||Scuderia Sabauda||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||39||3h06m06.23s|
|10.||8||"Raph"||B de las Casas||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||38||3h14m39.21s|
|11.||6||Armand Hug||A. Hug||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||33||3h00m22.67s|
|DNF||18||Clemente Biondetti||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 308||3.0||S-8|
|DNF||40||Gianfranco Comotti||Ecurie Bleue||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||36||37 laps? overheating/mechanical?|
|DNF||28||Carlo Felice Trossi||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CTF||3.0||S-8||15||engine/rear axle|
|DNF||14||Giuseppe Farina||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||13||crash with Hartmann|
|DNF||10||Achille Varzi||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||8CTF||3.0||S-8||11||rear axle|
|DNF||52||Eugenio Siena||Alfa Corse||Alfa Romeo||Tipo 312||3.0||V-12||8||fatal crash|
|DNS||38||Jean-Pierre Wimille||Automobiles E. Bugatti||Bugatti||T59/50B||S-8|
|DNS||12||Laury Schell||Ecurie Bleue streamliner||Delahaye||145||4.5||V-12||0|
Fastest lap: Carlo Felice Trossi (Maserati) on lap 9 in 3m35.41s = 218.9 km/h (136.0 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 205.1 km/h (127.4 mph)
Pole position lap speed: 228.7 km/h (142.1 mph)
Weather: intense heat, windy, sandstorms
Because of the two fatal catastrophes the traditional banquette was cancelled. There was much criticism from the drivers over
the decision to race the two classes together and almost all GP drivers had had incidents during the race.
Hermann Lang tells in his biography that "Farina, who was totally innocent, had been unable to avoid the accident. He took the accident hard and
was totally devastated during the trip back to Naples.
1. Nixon Silver Arrows" & Venables "Racing Fifteen-Hundreds" give a track length of 13.14 km. However the results in contemporary newspaper "Il Littoriale" clearly show that the speeds
released to the press were counted using a 13.1 km track length.
2. J.-M. Gigleux has suggested to me that the cars retained their original race numbers and that thus Comotti should have started in #60 and Dreyfus in #12. However
film from the start shows that Comotti definitely started in #40. Sadly it's impossible to see the number on Dreyfus's car.
XXIX° TARGA FLORIO
Favorita Park - Palermo (I), 22 May 1938
30 laps x 5.718 km (3.55 mi) = 171.6 km (106.6 mi)
Rocco scores on narrow track
Lurani and Bianco initially fought for the lead only to crash. Pietsch then took over but soon retired leaving Villoresi and Marazza to fight for the victory. Villoresi held the lead
until lap 10 when Marazza passed him. On lap 23 the leading duo crashed with each other leaving Rocco to take the chequered flag as winner.
For the second time the once so famous Targa Florio was raced at the small Favorita Park circuit in Palermo. For 1938 the track configuration had been changed but it was hardly
much of an improvement. In fact overtaking was banned for a third of the circuit as the track was too narrow. The race had also been shortened down from 50 to 30 laps.
The field consisted almost entirely of Maseratis, the only exception being Luigi Platés old Talbot.
Among non Italian Maserati drivers were Manuel de Teffé, "Raph", Armand Hug and Paul Pietsch.
Practice times where:
Bianco 3m18.2s, Pietsch 3m20.2s, Soffieti 3m25.6s, Baruffi 3m28.6s, Platé 3m34.2s, Marazza 3m45.2s, Lanza 4m41.6s.
Bianco took the lead and held it for three laps before retiring leaving Villoresi and Marazza to fight for the lead. The fight went
on for most of the race, Marazza taking the lead at 1/3 distance, but four laps from the end the cars collided.
That left Rocco to win comfortably before Raph.
|1.||34||Giovanni Rocco||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||30||1h30m04.6s|| |
|3.||32||Luigi Villoresi||Scuderia Ambrosiana||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||30||1h34m09.4s||+ 4m05.0s|
|4.||28||Gianni Battaglia||G. Battaglia||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||30||1h35m56.4s||+ 5m51.8s|
|5.||4||P. Baruffi / L. Soffietti||Gruppo Volta||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||30||1h36m15.0s||+ 6m10.4s|
|6.||12||Manuel de Teffé||Scuderia Ambrosiana||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||29||1h35m18.2s|| |
|DNF||26||Letterio Cucinotta||L. Cucinotta||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||?|| |
|DNF||30||Aldo Marazza||Officine A. Maserati||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||23||crash|| |
|DNF||24||Dioscoride Lanza||Scuderia Subaura||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||?|| |
|DNF||20||Edoardo Teagno||Scuderia Subaura||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||?|| |
|DNF||22||Enrico Platé||E. Platé||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||?|| |
|DNF||2||Luigi Platé||L. Platé||Talbot||700||1.5||S-8||?|| |
|DNF||14||Ferdinando Righetti||Scuderia Ambrosiana||Maserati||6CM||1.5||S-6||?|| |
|DNF||16||Paul Pietsch||P. Pietsch||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||3||mechanical|| |
|DNF||38||Ettore Bianco||Scuderia Subaura||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||2||crash|| |
|DNF||36||Giovanni Lurani||Count Lurani||Maserati||4CM||1.5||S-4||2||crash|| |
Fastest lap: Aldo Marazza (Maserati) on lap 22 in 2m52.0s = 119.7 km/h (74.4 mph)|
Winner's medium speed: 114.3 km/h (71.0 mph)
Weather: overcast, showers, very hot
6 June 1938: The B.A.R.C. Whitsun Meeting was held at Brooklands.|
The handicap races were won by Charles Brackenbury (Bugatti 2.0L), R. L. Duller (Duesenberg), F. E. L. Elgood (Bentley), W. W. S. Bennett (Alta 1.5L),
Brettel (Austin 0.7L), Billy Cotton (ERA 1.5L) J. W. Stocks (Lea Francis), Angus Cuddon-Fletcher (M.G.)-
1. Motor Sport gives 3m49s (95.09 mph). That speed actually corresponds to a lap time of 3m49.8s
2. Grid from Sheldon. Does not fit with grid description in Motor Sport, July 1938 but a picture in the same magazine shows that Sheldon's grid might be the correct one.