LE MANS 24 HOURS 1927

18th - 19th June

22 starters 7 classified finishers

Never had there been so few starters. Only 22 and it was the "Names" that were missing. The Chenard et Walcker Board of Directors had decided to cut their losses. Peugeot was still smarting fron the previous year's treatment and Lorraine Dietrich had decided to rest on their laurels. Thus, the main opposition to the 3 Bentleys (one of which was a new 4. 4 litre model) carne from the Laly - Chassagne 3 litre Aries. The best represented category was the 750 to 1100 cc one with 10 cars, a11 French. This was mainly due to a reduction in !he set dis­lance. With hoods up the 3 Bentleys left the start in forrnation with the 4. 4 litre model of Clement - Callingham jumping into an immediate lead. In spite of the valiant efforts of the Aries to match the pace of the English cars, it was difficult not to lose interest in what had turned into a monotonous procession. At nightfall the whole face of the race changed. A Theo - Schneider went off at Maison Blanche and partia11y blocked !he road. Into it drove 2 of!he Bentleys indu­lging the leading 4. 4 litre car, a little Aries and one of the S. A. R. A. S. Miraculously, only the Theo Schneider driver, Tabourin, was slightly injured. In addition, Sammy Davis in "old No. 3" was also involved in the crash but managed to get going again. His Bentley's chassis had been twisted in the impact, the steering was tightening up and a headlight broken but this did not deter Davis and Benjafield from soldiering on. Down carne the rain and the Aries attacked. At 10H00 on Sunday, the French car had a 5 lap lead over its British rival. Was fortune to smile on the French again ? Amid groans from the crowd the Aries carne in for a routine stop around midday but a blocked starter cut its lead to just half a lap. In spite of this, Chassagne drove like a man possessed and pulled out a lead again, but with just 90 minutes to go to the chequered flag the Aries ground to a halt at Mulsanne with a broken distributor. Thus, the twisted Bentley crawled home to victory with more than 300 kms in hand over the second - placed Salmson. It was the beginning of the Bentley legend.

CIRCUIT :

17,262 kms. Public viewing areas improved. Camping sites created.

REGUlATIONS:

Still obligatory to cover the first 20 laps with the hood up. A special commercial touring fuel called "ECO" supplied by the organisers. Fresh restrictions concerning repairs and breakdowns. Whereas it had been possible to use equipment placed on the pit counter, the drivers now could only count on the spare parts and tools carried on board and checked before the start. Revision of the mínimum set distances. In the light of previous experience, the smallest class (750 to 1100 ccs) saw their number of kilometres reduced : the status - quo was maintained for the 1500 cc class, but above, the distances were staggered between 2030 and 2300 kms. On the initiative of Mr G. Baehr, director of the "Grand Garage" in St Didier, a special prize of 50,000 francs was created based on a handicap style equivalence formula.

STARTERS:

22 cars 2 nations 9 makes

France : 3 Aries, 2 E. H. P. S (Ets Henri Predoux), 3 FASTOs (Fabrication Automobile Saint Ouen), 3 Salmsons, 3 S. A. R. A. s (Ste des Automobiles a Refroidissement par Air). 2 S. C. A. P. s (Ste de Construction Automobile de Paris), 2 Theo - Schneiders, 1 Tracta.

Great Britain : 3 Bentleys.

SUMMARY:

An Austrian Steyr did not appear. Tradition had it that the previous years winner would do a lap of honour the circuit was closed. A good occasion (!he only one! ) to see a Lorraine Dietrich. While this was going on J - C Gregoire, who had crashed that very morning, "escaped" from the Le Mans hospital, and was looking for a co - driver to get at least one Tracta on to the grid. An appeal over the loud speaker gave a young mechanic called Lemesle his chanceo For Gregoire himself the most difficult thing was puttlng on his helmet because of his ban-dages! The start was again given by Emile Coquille. SCAP entered two 8 cylinder cars and supplied their engine to the Tracta. In the S. A. R. A camp, the usual 1100 cc entries were backed up by a 6 cylinder 1500 cc model. The very heavy night rain resulted in very long delays without however affecting the pace of the Salmsons designed by the engineer, Petit. His two 1100 cc cars occupied second and third places on the rostrum, Casse and Rousseau winning the Index of Performance award and the Biennial Cup while the quicker pairing of de Victor and Halsey carne away with the Saint Didier prize.

RECORDS:

The distance record set by the Lorraine Dietrich in 1926 was not beaten. However, the lap record was pulverised by the 4.4 litre Bentley of Clement - Callingham which got round in 8'46", a speed of 118.142 km/h, a full 17" below the previous year's one. It was the first time that the 9' barrier had been breached.

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Author: ArchitectPage