LE MANS 24 HOURS 1924

14th - 15th June

After the 1923 experience the organisers decided to move their event to mid - June hoping to profit from the longer days and better weather. Heat and tougher regulations combined to decimate the field as only 14 cars made it to the chequered flag. The lone Bentley of Duff Clement carne to take its revenge against 16 French makes. The start saw a closely - fought battle between The new 3.9litre 8 cylinder Chenard et Walckers and the 3litre Bignan. The lap record was smashed. The Chenard and the Bignan fell back. An Aries took up the lead but went out during Ihe night. The outcome of the La Lorraine/Bentley duel, which began at half distance, remained uncertain for a long time. Finally, victoty fell to Ihe English car. The distance record was not beaten but the lap record was reduced by 20 seconds by Lagache in his big Chenard. Compensation for the Lorraine Dietrichs came in the form of second and third places behind the Bentley. Chenard et Walcker however did not come away empty - handedteilher thanks to victory in the 1501 to 2000 cc dass. Of the 10 debutants only 2 Aries appeared in the overall classification. As in 1923 both Brasiers finished in what was to be the make's Le Mans swansong.

CIRCUIT :

17,262 kms. Surface improved but still uneven. Beginnings of the funfair and creation of numbered parking places.

REGUlATIONS:

Tougher set distances for the various cubic capacity classes. The drivers had to demonstrate the efficiency of their "protective systems". At the end of his fifth lap each driver had to put up his hood, cover at least 20 laps with the hood up thus proving the reliability of the system. Another imposition : after more than 2 punctures the driver could not simply change the wheel. He had to remove the wheel, change the tube, put it back in and inflate it!

Creation of a Biennial Cup in addition to the Triennial one created in 1923.

STARTERS:

41 cars 2 nations 17 makes

France : 2 Albas, 2 Amilcars, 4 Aries, 4 Bignans, 2 Brasiers, 1 L. Chenard, 6 Chenard et Walckers, 3 Corre la Licomes, 1 Georges lrat, 1 G. P. R (Georges et Rene PoI), 3 Lorraine Dietrichs, 1 Majola, 1 Montier Ford, 2 Omega sixes, 4 Rolland Pilains, 3 S. A. R. A. s (Ste des Automobiles a Refrioidissement par Air).

Great Britain : 1 Bentley

Makes, first appearance :

Drivers, first appearance :

SUMMARY:

Withdrawals of a Sunbeam ( Lee Guinessand a Delage. Retum of the 1923 Bentley now with braking on all 4 wheels and improved protected lights. Baron Petiet, Ihe Aries boss, added a new 3.2 litre model and a 3 litre one to his usual pair of 1100 cc cars. Chenard et Wa1cker doubled the cubie capacity and turned up with a 4 litre - 2000 kg 170 km/h model while also trying aerodynamic solutions on one of Ihe 2 litre cars. The G. R. P was the first taxi powered car to race at Le Mans! Accidents led to numerous retirements : a fire eliminated the 8 cylinder Chenard, and the Bignan lost its radiator cap! De Courcelles' Lorraine went off and bent its chassis. Double punctures for the sister - car of Bloch - Stalter. The Bentley was not spared either as Duff and Clement had to deal with broken shock absorbers, blocked gear shift and just before the finish, a locked wheel nut. The Rolland Pilain camp miscalculated the interval between refuelling and their drivers had to exercise extreme caution as the fuel tanks were too small. A defective lot of valve spring washers spelt collective disaster for the Corre la Licomes. The "hood efficiency demonstration" was a great popular success with quiekest erection time going to the little S. A. R. A and the Montier - Ford in 27" as against 38" for the Bentley. The 1100 to 1500 cc class had 7 starters but no finishers.

RECORDS:

The Bentley and the 2 Lorraine Dietrichs exceeded the 2000 km barrier but the distance record was not beaten. None of the survivors covered fewer than 1500 kms. The 4litre Chenard et Wa1cker of Andre Lagache got round in a very fast 9'19", a speed of 111, 168 km/h!

A keen ear!

And as night fell around 10 in the evening when the competitors had already been racing for 6 hours, the circuit that ephemeral creation reminded us of the best fairgrounds. An off - shoot of the "Fete de Neuilly" ( a famous fair of the time) one would have said. All that was lacking were the swings and the shooting galleries! You could hear the fanfares, the hunting horns,

The jazz band, the appeals over the loud speakers, the continuous hum of the engines which passed and repassed without cease, as well as the snores of the spectators not a wit deterred by a night out under the starry skies.

On the Angers road between the town of Le Mans and the circuit there was an uninterrupted coming and going of cars transporting people to and from the circuit. Leaving aside the sporting aspect, this uncommon spectade was more than worth the joumey".

Benoit Marie (Omnia July 1924)

Even though the 2 surviving Rolland Pilains were unable to match the pace of the Chenard et Walckers in the 1500 to 2 litre dass, the make from Tours did not skimp on celebrations. As there was no overall dassification all the cars that had met their set distances could proudly claim to have triumphed in the Le Mans Endurance competition!

The brush of Daniel Picot immortalises the historic victory of the Bentley over its 40 rivals.

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Author: ArchitectPage