Algerian Grand Prix

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Algerian Grand Prix
Staouéli street circuit (1928-'30, 1937)
Bir El Djir street circuit (1930, 1932)
Bouzaréah street circuit (1934)
Race information
Number of times held 7
First held 1928
Last held 1937
Most wins (drivers) France Jean-Pierre Wimille (3)
Most wins (constructors) France Bugatti (7)
Circuit length 1.90 km (1.18 mi)
Last race (1937)
Pole position
Podium
Fastest lap

The Algerian Grand Prix or Grand Prix d'Alger was a motor race held in the 1920s and 30s at several coastal road courses in the department of French Algeria.

Algerian Grand Prix[edit]

The success of the Italian organised Tripoli Grand Prix and the increasing popularity of the Moroccan Grand Prix in the French protectorate in Morocco (both began in 1925) saw motor racing bloom across French North Africa. Alongside the neighbouring Tunis Grand Prix, the Algerian Grand Prix was first held in the spring of 1928. A road course was chosen in Staouéli, west of the capital Algiers.[1] The race was held on May 6 made up of a small grid made up mostly of Grand Prix Bugattis and Amilcar cyclecars. Local racing driver Marcel Lehoux won the 350 km race, lapping the field as the only Grand Prix car to finish in good order with Guy Cloître finishing second in the first of the Amilcars.[2] 1929 brought a remarkably similar result with Lehoux leading Cloître home by 25 minutes. A third consecutive victory though would be denied by fellow Bugatti racer Philippe Étancelin.[3]

The next Algerian Grand Prix was not held until 1934. A new circuit, used just the once, was laid out on the roads of Bouzaréah, in northern Algiers.[4] An end of season event held in the fringes of the European winter, two heat races were combined to give a final result. Against strong opposition from Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Jean-Pierre Wimille won both races with second going in a shared drive to Scuderia Ferrari drivers Antonio Brivio and Louis Chiron in a Alfa Romeo Tipo B.[5]

The heat was going out of racing in north Africa as the 1930s wound on and the European season became more centralised against the increasing international tensions. The next race was in 1937 and racing returned to Staouéli, although on a much shorter course for a sports car race. Again in a two heat format, Wimille took his third consecutive victory in Algeria. He took his Bugatti T59 to victory in the first heat and was second behind René Carriere's Delahaye 135CS in the second heat.[6]

Oran Grand Prix[edit]

Coastal Algeria was divided into three départements, Oran, Alger and Constantine. A rival race to the one in Alger, called the Oran Grand Prix or Grand Prix d'Oranie, sprang up in 1930, just a couple of weeks prior to the 1930 Algerian Grand Prix. The Arcole circuit was mapped out in Bir El Djir.[7] The first race saw Alger's usual mix of Bugattis and Amilcars. The favoured Bugatti drivers Lehoux, Etancelin and René Dreyfus all dropped out leaving Jean de Maleplane to score the biggest win of his career.[8]

After a years break, a much improved field arrived in 1932 with Alfa Romeos and Maseratis arriving for the first time, pushing the 1.5 litre voiturettes and the 1.1 litre cyclecars further down the grid. The wins stayed with Bugatti as Jean-Pierre Wimille began his domination of Algerian racing. Wimille won by two laps ahead of the Alfa Romeo of Goffredo Zehender.[9] That was where racing ended in Oran, the focus turned back towards events closer to the capital Algiers.

Post-war[edit]

After World War II sports car racing would make sporadic returns to Algeria. Pierre Boncompagni would win a three hour race in 1953 in Staouéli a Ferrari 340 MM. 1955 saw Louis Rosier take a Ferrari 750 Monza to win a Bougie Grand Prix held in Bougie to the east of Algiers.[10] Fernand Tavano won in 1959 in a Ferrari 500 TRC again in Staouéli.

Winners[edit]

Results sourced from:[11]

Year Driver Constructor Location Report
1937 France Jean-Pierre Wimille Bugatti T59/57 Staouéli street circuit Report
1935
-36
Not held
1934 France Jean-Pierre Wimille Bugatti T59 Bouzaréah street circuit Report
1933 Not held
1932 France Jean-Pierre Wimille Bugatti T51 Bir El Djir street circuit, Oran GP Report
1931 Not held
1930 France Philippe Etancelin Bugatti T35 Staouéli street circuit Report
France Jean de Maleplane Bugatti T35C Bir El Djir street circuit, Oran GP Report
1929 France Marcel Lehoux Bugatti T35C Staouéli street circuit Report
1928 France Marcel Lehoux Bugatti T35C Staouéli street circuit Report

References[edit]

  1. ^ de Carli, Guido. "ALG - ALGERIA: STAOUÉLI". TRACKS IN THE WORLD. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  2. ^ "1928 Grands Prix". GEL Motorsport Information Page. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  3. ^ Twite, Mike (1974). "Etancelin: Twenty Years Behind the Wheel". In Northey, Tom. The World of Automobiles 6. London: Orbis. p. 616. 
  4. ^ de Carli, Guido. "ALG - ALGERIA: BOUZARÉAH". TRACKS IN THE WORLD. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  5. ^ Snellman, Leif; Etzrodt, Hans. "The Golden Era - 1934" [IV Grand Prix d'Alger]. The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing. 1930. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  6. ^ Krejci, Martin. "Pre-war Races 1937" [GP Algeria]. World Sports Racing Prototypes. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  7. ^ de Carli, Guido. "ALG - ALGERIA: ARCOLE". TRACKS IN THE WORLD. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  8. ^ Snellman, Leif; Etzrodt, Hans. "The Golden Era - 1930" [I Grand Prix d'Oranie]. The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing. 1930. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  9. ^ Snellman, Leif; Etzrodt, Hans. "The Golden Era - 1932" [II Grand Prix d'Oranie]. The Golden Era of Grand Prix Racing. 1932. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  10. ^ "GP Bougie". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  11. ^ "Algerian Grand Prix". The Racing Line. Retrieved 2014-02-10.