Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 1933 Comminges GP #40 Fagioli

1:18 Scale Replica by CMC

The Alfa-Romeo Tipo B was the most successful single-seater Grand Prix racing car of its time. Alfa-Romeo built and raced it between 1932 and 1936. Initially as a factory race car for Alfa-Romeo, then later under the Scuderia Ferrari label after having taken over Alfa-Romeos racing activities. The car, designed by the legendary engineer Vittorio Jano, was based on the equally legendary Alfa-Romeo 8C models. The P3 was Alfa-Romeos second single-seater after the Tipo-A monoposto of 1931.

The magnificent 27-km long circuit between St Gaudens and Montrejeau, France used to host a Grand Prix race every August since 1925 until marshalling such a long track became too much of a burden. In 1933 the circuit was replaced by a shorter 11-km course on the north side of the Garonne river. The new track turned right in a hairpin bend near the Valentine bridge and went westward in a series of twists before joining the old track near Villeneuve. Among other things the old wooden grandstands were replaced by modern concrete constructions.

The 1933 Comminges GP had an excellent list of entries, including Giuseppe Campari and Luigi Fagioli from Scuderia Ferrari, who would drive the Alfa Romeo P3 monoposti loaned from Alfa Corse. Maserati had entered Tazio Nuvolari, Mario Borzacchini, and last year’s winner Goffredo Zehender with the 8CMs. There were many non-factory Alfa entrants, such as Philippe Etancelin, Pierre Félix, last year’s runner-up Algerian Marcel Lehoux, Penya Rhin GP winner Chilean Juan Zanelli, Louis Chiron, and Guy Moll, etc. The 2.3-liter Bugattis were entered by Jean Gaupillat, Raoul Miguel and Hungarian Lazlo Hartmann in addition to Count Czaykowski’s 5 liter Bugatti T54 and Whitney Straight’s Maserati 26M.

It was a pity that before the event, five drivers had to withdraw. Among them were Zanelli, whose car was not ready, Campari who had been injured at Coppa Acerbo, and Chiron, whose car was still under repair. Then on August 19, the Maserati duo Nuvolari and Borzacchini sent the telegram that they would be unable to reach Comminges in time. This left Fagioli as the only real “big gun” in the field. The practice sessions were dominated by Alfa Romeos. Jean-Pierre Wimille improved the fastest lap time to 4m29s at 147.2 km/h and qualified for pole position. Etancelin was one second slower, followed by Moll. They each drove an Alfa Monza.

Following the motor cycle races on the morning of August 20, it was time for the cars. Etancelin was quick to gain an early lead. Driving an Alfa Romeo P3 monoposto with start number 40, Fagioli, however, was the first to complete lap one about 100 meters ahead of the next best driver. During the next several laps, Etancelin managed to close in on Fagioli and almost came abreast of him once. At the end of five laps, Fagioli was leading Etancelin by 9 seconds, Wimille by 18 seconds, and Moll by 24 seconds. Last year’s winner Zehender had made it to be the third behind Fagioli, but he spun and stalled his Maserati. A spectator rushed out to push the car for him, which immediately disqualified Zehender.

After lap six, Fagioli started to pull away from Etancelin and the rest of the field. He drove the fastest lap of the race with a time of 4m29s. After the 13th lap he held such a lead that for him, the race boiled down to maintaining the gap between himself and Etancelin.

After the midpoint of the race, the planned fuel stops started. On the 22th lap Etancelin came in for a refuel, but his Monza refused to start. When he finally returned to the race five minutes later, he had dropped to fifth position and was one lap behind Fagioli.

Fagioli opened up a huge gap and held it for the rest of the race. He crossed the finish line several kilometers ahead of Wimille, who had taken over second position, followed by Moll. In retrospect, Fagioli led the race from the first lap to the last, thus winning a dominant victory at the 1933 Comminges GP — his second one for Scuderia Ferrari.

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