Classic Car Catalogue

Grand Prix du Comminges

Grand Prix du Comminges
16 August 1931


Entries and results:
No.   Driver: Car: Engine: Entrant: Position: Class: Pos.:
    Etancelin Alfa Romeo     01st over 1500 cc 1st
    Lehoux Bugatti       over 1500 cc 3rd
    de Maleplane Maserati       over 1500 cc 8th
    Czaikowski Bugatti     02nd over 1500 cc 2nd
    Gaupillat Bugatti       over 1500 cc 6th
    Pesato Alfa Romeo       over 1500 cc  
    Lormand Bugatti       over 1500 cc 7th
    Mlle. Helle-Nice Bugatti       over 1500 cc  
    Blanc Bugatti       over 1500 cc  
    Besaucelle Ballot       over 1500 cc  
    Consiglio Alfa-Romeo       over 1500 cc  
    Giraud-Cabantons Bugatti       over 1500 cc 5th
    d'Arnoux Bugatti       over 1500 cc 4th
    Couzinie Bugatti       over 1500 cc  
    Durand Bugatti       over 1500 cc  
    Minangoy Bugatti       over 1500 cc  
    Delorme Bugatti       1100-1500 cc  
    Veyron Bugatti       1100-1500 cc 2nd
    Ragot Ragot       1100-1500 cc 5th
    Joly Maserati       1100-1500 cc 1st
    Mme Itier Bugatti       1100-1500 cc acc
    Antonio Maserati       1100-1500 cc 3rd
    Meslon Bugatti       1100-1500 cc  
    Amade Bugatti       1100-1500 cc  
    Rey Bugatti       1100-1500 cc 4th
    Toselli Bugatti       1100-1500 cc  
    Searon Amilcar       up to 1100 cc  
    Charier BNC       up to 1100 cc  
    Rongieras BNC       up to 1100 cc 2nd
    Demazel Salmson       up to 1100 cc 3rd
    Faure Amilcar       up to 1100 cc  
    Lemoine Caban       up to 1100 cc 1st
Motor SportSeptember 1931
The Grand Prix du Comminges.

TO those sceptics who insist that motor-racing can never be really popular with the general public, the Grand Prix du Comminges forms an irrefutable answer. Although only held annually, the organisers have seen their way to erecting a new grandstand at Saint-Gaudens, made permanently of concrete, 232 metres in length, from which 15,000 spectators, all comfortably seated under cover, can watch a large part of the circuit.
Being sensible people, the organisers realise that they cannot hope to attract a large crowd unless all the most famous drivers are competing. At the same time they know that racing drivers, however, well off, will not go to the expense of bringing their cars and mechanics a considerable distance unless there is sufficient inducement in the way of prize-money. Accordingly 90,000 francs was subscribed for this purpose, with the result that a large crowd of comfortably seated spectators watched an exciting duel between some of France's most famous drivers.
The starters were :
Over 1,500 cm.-Etancelin (Alfa Romeo), Lehoux (Bugatti), de Maleplane (Maserati), Czaikowski (Bugatti), Gaupillat (Bugatti), Pesato (Alfa Romeo), Lormand (Bugatti), Blanc (Bugatti), Mlle. Helle-Nice (Bugatti), Besaucelle (Ballot), Consiglio (Alfa-Romeo), Giraud Cabantons (Bugatti), d'Arnoux (Bugatti), Couzinie (Bugatti), Durand (Bugatti), Minangoy (Bugatti).
1,500 cm.-Delorme (Bugatti), Veyron (Bugatti), Ragot (Ragot), Joly (Maserati), Mme Itier (Bugatti), Antonio (Maserati), Meslon (Bugatti), Amade (Bugatti), Rey (Bugatti), Toselli (Bugatti).
1,100 cm.-Scaron (Amilcar), Charier (B.N.C.), Rongieras ( B.N.C.), Demazel (Salmson), Faure (Amilcar), Lemoine (Caban).
No " Mercs."
In the absence of the Mercedes cars through a series of misfortunes it was obvious that the chief interest of the race would be in the renewal of the battle between Etancelin and Lehoux. A fortnight previously Etancelin had won on the Circuit of Dauphiny, and now Lehoux was anxious to have his revenge.
At the start Czaikowski jumped into the lead, and it was clear that a very hot pace was going to be set, for on the first lap he broke the record with a speed. of 87 m.p.h. He was followed closely by Lehoux, while hard on his heels came Etancelin. Next in order were Gaupillat, Giraud, Lontand, de Maleplane, D'Arnoux and Joly.
On the second lap Lehoux managed to pass Czaikowski, returning a lap speed of 11 min. 7s. Etancelin was still third, followed by Giraud, Lomand, Gaupillat and Joly. The rest of the field were beginning to string our round the 26 kilometres of the lap.
On the third lap Lehoux was still in the lead, but Etancelin was right on the heels of Czaikowski. Gaupillat had succeeded in repassing Lomand but otherwise the order was the same. Scaron stopped for a few minutes, but quickly set off again.
A Tremendous Duel.
At this stage the struggle for the lead was wonderful to watch. Lehoux again broke the record for the course with a time of 11m. 5s., but only 200 yards separated the first three cars. Etancelin had gradually crept up and was now second. The terrific pace began to tell, and Toselli crashed badly on a corner near the grandstand, fortunately without injury.
Seldom has such tremendous rivalry been seen between the leaders of a race and one was reminded of the classic struggle between Nuvolari and Varzi at Spa. Both drivers were using all their skill and daring, while there was little to choose between their machines, the 2,300 c.c. 8-cylinder Alfa-Romeo and the double overhead camshaft Bugatti.
At the sixth lap the order was :
Over 1.500 c.c.-1, Lehoux, average 140 km. 648; 2, Etancelin, very close behind, then Giraud-Cabantous, Lormand, d'Arnoux, de Maleplane, Gaupillat, Mlle. Helle-Nice, Blanc, Pesato.
1.500 cm.-1, Joly, average 124 km. 469; Veyron, Antonio, Rey, Mme Itier, Ragot, Delorme.
1.100 cm.-1, Leinoine, average 106 km. 064; Faure, Rougieras, Demazel.
High Lap Speeds.
On the seventh lap the order was unchanged. The leaders were lapping consistently at over 87 m.p.h., followed by Czaikowski and Giraud, while in the 1,500 c.c. class Joly the leader, was lapping at 80 m.p.h.
So far the centre of interest had been the duel between Lehoux and Etancelin. Lehoux was putting up a magnificent performance in spite of a damaged wrist, while Etancelin was driving a skilful race by letting his rival set the pace, never losing an inch. On the ninth lap, however, he passed Lehoux but his triumph was short lived, for Lehoux driving with an almost ferocious abandon, regained the lead. One second between the first and second cars after 140 miles, with the third man only 59 seconds behind !
Then on the tenth lap Czakowski came into the pits with a punctured tyre. Encouraged by the excitement of the crowd he made an extraordinarily quick change, and was away in 18 seconds. At the same time Giraud stopped to re-fuel, while Lemoine came in winner of the 1,100 c.c. class.
For a moment the general excitement was hushed, for news came through that Mme. Itier had had a terrible accident, completely wrecking her car. Then it was announced that she herself had escaped injury, much to everyone's relief.
The Herculean struggle between Lehoux and Etancelin continued, and on the 12th lap Etancelin lowered the lap record with a time of 11m. 2s., although Lehoux came past the stands first, two seconds in front of his rival, who in turn was two minutes ahead of Czaikowski. On this lap Joly finished first in the 1,500 c.c. class.
Two laps before the end came tragedy. Lehoux punctured a tyre, a misfortune which at this stage of the race destroyed his chances of securing a win. He pulled in to change a wheel, but while doing so Czaikowski flashed by to gain second place. On the 14th and final lap Czaikowski made a supreme attempt to catch the fleet Etancelin, and finally broke the lap-record by returning a time of 10m. 58s. His effort was too late, however, and Etancelin crossed the line, winner of a most men, orable race.
1. Ph. Etancelin (Alfa-Romeo), 394 k. 500 m 2h. 48m. 55 4/5s. (average 140 km. 117).
2. Comte Czaikowski (Bugatti), 2h. 50m. 9s.
Over 1.500 cm. (394 km. 500).
1. Etancelin (Alfa-Romeo), 2h. 48m. 55 4/5s. (average 140 k. 117).
2. Czaikowski (Bugatti), 2h. 50m. 9s.
3. Lehoux (Bugatti), 2h. 52m. 33 2/5s.
4. D'Arnoux, relieved by Zehender (Bugatti), 3h. 1m. 35 4/5s.
5. Giraud-Cabantons (Bugatti), 3h. 2m. 56 4/5s.
6. Gaupillat (Bugatti), 3h. 5m. 5 2/5s.
7. Lormand (Bugatti), 3h. 7m. 39 1/5s.
8. De Maleplane (Maserati), 3h. 11m. 3 3/5s.
1.500 cm. (315 km. 600).
1. Joly (Maserati), 2h. 32m. 49 3/5s. (average 123 km. 305).
2. Veyron (Bugatti), 2h. 36m. 6 2/5s.
3. Antonio (Maserati), 2h. 44m. 39 4/5s.
4. Rey (Bugatti), 2h. 47m. 33 1/5s.
5. Ragot (Ragot), 2h. 52m. 44 1/5s.
1.100 cm. (263 km.).
1. Lemoine (Caban), 2h. 27m. 58s. (average 156 km. 645).
2. Rougieras (B.N.C.), 2h. 36m. 6 4/5s.
3. Demazel (Samson), 2h. 39m. 1/5s.