1921 French Grand Prix
The 1921 French Grand Prix (formally the XV Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France) was a Grand Prix motor race held at Le Mans on 25 July 1921. The race was held over 30 laps of the 17.26km circuit for a total distance of 517.8km and was won by Jimmy Murphy driving a Duesenberg. The race did not feature a massed start, with cars released in pairs at 30 second intervals.
Although this was the first French Grand Prix since the end of the first World War, the initial entry featured entries from four countries (note that entries from Germany were not allowed). The US was represented by eventual winner Duesenberg, and France by Ballot and Mathis, the latter of which was based in Strasbourg, which was part of Germany before World War I. The Italian Fiats did not eventuate due to labour issues. The newly formed British-French Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (S.T.D.) originally entered 7 nearly identical cars as 3 makes, Sunbeam, Talbot and Talbot-Darracq, however due to a lack of preparation, the two Sunbeams were withdrawn.
The race started at 9 am (on a Monday due to a motorcycle race the previous day) under threatening clouds, with the first pair away being Émile Mathis and Ralph DePalma (in a Ballot), with DePalma making a considerably better start. The other cars followed in pairs at 30-second intervals, with Andre Dubonnet last to start on his own in a Duesenberg. Fastest on the first lap were both DePalma and Joe Boyer in a Duesenberg, equal with 8 minutes 16, with the third-place also a tie, between Murphy in a Duesenberg and Jean Chassagne in a Ballot.
By the end of the second lap, the order was more established, with Murphy leading Boyer, Chassagne, and DePalma.
The battle was close between the Duesenbergs, with their superior brakes, and the Ballots, with their superior cornering, whilst the S.T.D.s struggled with tire and road-holding problems (Lee Guinness stopping a remarkably 15 times in the 30 lap race), with Andre Boillot the only S.T.D. to drive consistently, holding sixth place in the early laps.
The order changed little near the front, with Murphy pulling nearly a two-minute lead by lap 7. Chassagne overtook Boyer for second on the ninth lap. Murphy made a pitstop at the end of lap 10 but didn't lose the lead, however, Chassagne was now close behind and was able to take the lead during lap 11. By half distance, Chassagne leads Boyer who had also overtaken Murphy, now third. Guyot was not far behind in fourth, then a much larger gap to the lower positions, lead by DePalma.
On lap 17, Chassagne made a pitstop to refuel but his fuel tank had burst and was beyond repair. On the very next lap, Boyer who had just inherited the lead suffered a mechanical failure, giving the lead back to Murphy ahead of a slowing Guyot. Murphy would hold onto this lead until the end, but behind him, the fight for second place was more dramatic. Guyot had a large gap back to third place, but when he stopped for fuel and water on lap 28, he was unable to restart. His mechanic became very tired trying to push-start the car and was replaced by Arthur Duray who was at the race as a spectator. They were able to restart but this had damaged the clutch forcing another stop and they ended up in sixth place. DePalma then took second, but he too had considerable difficulty restarting but was still able to finish ahead of third-placed Jules Goux in a 2-litre Ballot who finished the race without stopping.
|2||1||Ralph DePalma||Ballot 3L||30||4h22m10.6|
|3||18||Jules Goux||Ballot 2LS||30||4h28m38.6|
|5||15||Andre Boillot||Talbot-Darracq (S.T.D.)||30||4h35m17.4|
|7||14||Louis Wagner||Ballot 3L||30||4h48m01.1|
|8||4||Kenelm Lee Guinness||Talbot (S.T.D.)||30||5h06m43.8|
|9||10||Henry Segrave||Talbot (S.T.D.)||30||5h08m06.0|
|Ret||5||Rene Thomas||Talbot-Darracq (S.T.D.)||23||Oil tank|
|Ret||8||Jean Chassagne||Ballot 3L||17||Fuel tank|
|DNS||11||Louis Zborowski||Sunbeam (S.T.D.)||Car not ready|
|DNA||13||Dario Resta||Sunbeam (S.T.D.)||Car not ready|
|DNA||2||Ugo Sivocci||Fiat 802||Car not ready due to labour difficulties|
|DNA||9||Pietro Bordino||Fiat 802||Car not ready due to labour difficulties|
- Hodges, David (1967). The French Grand Prix. pp. 54–59.
- Darren Galpin. "1921 Grands Prix, The GEL Motorsport Information Page". Archived from the original on 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "1921 French Grand Prix". Motor Sport Magazine Database. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
|Grand Prix Race|
1914 French Grand Prix
|1921 Grand Prix season
1921 Italian Grand Prix
1914 French Grand Prix
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1922 French Grand Prix