The XIII Grand Prix of South Africa, otherwise known as the 1967 South African Grand Prix, was the opening round of the 1967 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at the Kyalami circuit on the 2nd of January, 1967. The race would be fondly remembered in African motorsport as John Love came agonisingly close to a first victory at his home race.
After a lot of shake up on the driver front, all started by John Surtees who joined Honda, the field arrived in South Africa to start the season with Jack Brabham as defending Champion. His form appeared to be carrying over into his third title defence, with the Australian securing pole while Denny Hulme made it a Brabham-Repco front row.
Hulme made the best getaway to take the lead at the start, with Brabham slotting into his teammate's wake, leaving Surtees to give chase. This, however, would be changed when Brabham spun down to fourth behind Jochen Rindt, although the Austrian would also got for a spin after finding some oil.
Brabham and Rindt would recover from their spins to battle back up the order, with the two both passing Surtees although it was not long before Rindt retired when his engine expired. Brabham would remain in second until a misfire developed to dump him back down the order, promoting Love into second and Dan Gurney third, although the Californian would soon fall out with suspension failure.
Then, Hulme was in trouble with a brake problem that saw him lose his one minute lead with a quarter of the race to go. Love was now leading but had to push as Pedro Rodríguez was charging on with a sniff of victory, and with seven laps to go the Rhodesian's lead looked unassailable, until he had to pit for fuel. That stop handed the lead and a twenty second advantage to Rodriguez which would not be challenged, so it was the first win for a Mexican racer. Love finished second ahead of Surtees, while Hulme and Brabham scored points, either side of Bob Anderson.
The South African Grand Prix returned as a World Championship round in 1967, with the New Years Celebrations falling on a weekend. A non-Championship race had been staged in 1966 but on a new course, halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Kyalami race was successful and so the organisers decided to use the Johannesburg circuit rather than the Prince George Circuit in East London, which had held all of the World Championship editions of the race.
Although the new season would actually start two days before the end of 1966, there had been a lot of movement over the winter. It had all started when John Surtees signed for the factory Honda Racing team once they announced that they would be committing to a full season of Formula One. The Englishman's departure meant there was a spare seat at the factory Cooper-Maserati effort, with Pedro Rodríguez jumping out of Team Lotus as confusion reigned over the future of the Norfolk squad's driver line up.
Colin Chapman and his Lotus team had endured a disappointing 1966 campaign as they waited to get their Ford Cosworth built engines (which would not be available for the first race of 67 either). Enhancing the woes from an under powered car was the fact that second driver Peter Arundell, whom Chapman had kept faith in since his huge crash back in 1964, was simply unable to recover his previous pace. Rodriguez departed a few days before Arundell was dropped by mutual agreement, although his replacement would cause further ripples among the field.
Indeed, it was arguably Clark's biggest British rival, and friend, Graham Hill who stepped in to the Norfolk squad leaving Lotus with arguably the strongest driver line up, but with two questionable cars. Hill's departure left a vacant seat at the factory BRM team, who drafted in ex-Lotus racer Mike Spence to partner Jackie Stewart. Spence's move meant the privateer Reg Parnell Racing team were without a driver, so team owner Tim Parnell decided to bring in Formula 2 racer Piers Courage for the new season.
The only other move would be at Anglo American Racers, where Dan Gurney tried to bring in Richie Ginther, although the Weslake powered Eagle would not arrive. That left the only team to start the new season in the same state that they had finished the last as World Champions Brabham-Repco, with Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme out defend their crown. They, like everyone else, would field cars with no revisions since the Mexican finale, although the Brabham BT20 had looked to be the class of the field at the end of that season.
Absentees were to be found in the form of Ferrari, who were still redeveloping their racing facilities back in Maranello, and McLaren, who was busy redesigning his car. That left the regular privateers in the form of Jo Bonnier and his team Ecurie Bonnier and Jo Siffert with the Rob Walker Racing Team, joined by familiar European runner Bob Anderson and RPR's Courage. Four locals were added to the entry list, with Kyalami record holder John Love, LDS racer Sam Tingle, and South African drivers Dave Charlton and Luki Botha completing the field.
The full entry list for the 1967 South African Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying were staged over three days before the race, with Sunday left clear to celebrate the New Year. All three sessions, one each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, would be held from 2:30pm to 5:00pm, although the organisers allowed free practice during the morning without any timing or marshals. Most of the teams would use this time to try and get their cars running before the proper sessions, as the teams tried to beat the circuit record of 1:31.5, held by John Love.
Only ten cars would be able to run in the first official session of the meeting, as John Surtees and Graham Hill both had late issues after the unofficial running. First out to get a time on the board would be Jackie Stewart, quickly joined by Jochen Rindt, although it was not long before Stewart was back with badly damaged tyres. As it turned out, the BRM team were experimenting with the new Dunlop wet tyre, with Tony Rudd wanting to see how long they would last on a dry circuit.
Cooper-Maserati soon joined the list of teams who were having overheating issues, although Pedro Rodríguez would beat the circuit record before he disappeared. Dan Gurney made intermittent appearances, a curious incident in the pits keeping him out action when a fan flicked out a stone from a tyre which landed in the engine, requiring the engine to be fired without one plug to pummel the stone to dust. Only the Brabham-Repcos went round without problems, demonstrated by World Champion Jack Brabham's fastest session time of 1:28.3.
Friday saw more of the field manage to get out onto the circuit during the official session, where circuit temperatures hit 60°C (140°F), with the tyres over 10 degrees hotter. Brabham decided to sit the session out, gambling that his time would not be beaten in the heat, although teammate Denny Hulme would go out and wear down his pace to a 1:28.9, six tenths off. Jochen Rindt and Rodriguez were sent out by Cooper as they experimented with cooling techniques, while Jim Clark and Hill had contrasting fortunes at Team Lotus as temperatures affected their two cars differently.
Elsewhere, Stewart and BRM were continuing to experiment with tyres, ignoring their overheating problems which seemed to be more minor in the intense heat, until the Scot's session was ended by a radiator leak. The privateers were enjoying differing fortunes too, with the locals Dave Charlton and John Love stealing the show, the latter leaping up to fourth with a lap a little over a second slower than Brabham. The full time privateers, in contrast, were really struggling in the heat as Jo Bonnier and Jo Siffert joined the factory Cooper team in struggling to cool their cars.
After a night of rebuilding, which featured a really early morning session for Honda, where Surtees finally got some serious running in in cooler temperatures, although these were not official times. When the Saturday session opened it was the Cooper quartet who went out first to try and cure their issues, with the factory cars getting cut-away noses, relocated fuel pumps and modified air-ducts. BRM were finally ready to run two cars, although Stewart would not complete a lot of running as the team decided to prepare his car for the race once he recorded a 1:30.3.
The ultimate pace remained with Brabham, who did a few runs to get down to a 1:28.5, still slower than his Thursday time, before calling it a day. Love took a similar approach, hoping to hold onto his second row grid slot, although a battling lap from Clark, who had spun on oil early on, put the Lotus racer into third. Pedro Rodríguez confirmed fourth with a late time, just a tenth slower than the lead Lotus, while Surtees got down to a 1:29.6, good enough for sixth.
The full qualifying results for the 1967 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Repco||1:28.3||No Time||1:28.5||—|
|4||4||Pedro Rodríguez||Cooper-Maserati||1:29.4||No Time||1:29.1||+0.8s|
|5||17||John Love||Cooper-Climax||No Time||1:29.5||No Time||+1.2s|
|6||11||John Surtees||Honda||No Time||1:31.0||1:29.6||+1.3s|
|8||19||Dave Charlton||Brabham-Climax||1:33.0||1:30.2||No Time||+1.9s|
|12||15||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Maserati||No Time||1:36.8||1:31.8||+3.5s|
|13||6||Mike Spence||BRM||1:32.2||No Time||1:32.1||+3.8s|
|14||18||Sam Tingle||LDS-Climax||No Time||No Time||1:32.4||+3.9s|
|15||8||Graham Hill||Lotus-BRM||No Time||1:34.0||1:32.6||+4.3s|
|16||12||Jo Siffert||Cooper-Maserati||No Time||1:40.5||1:32.8||+4.5s|
|17||20||Luki Botha||Brabham-Climax||No Time||1:34.6||1:33.1||+4.8s|
|18||16||Piers Courage||Lotus-BRM||No Time||1:34.4||1:33.8||+5.5s|
After a day of working or, for the drivers, relaxation, the field were up early on Monday morning, as the organisers scheduled a short practice session for the field. The request to have a session was made after a tropical storm overnight, which had washed away all of the rubber laid down, meaning the tyres would not last the race distance. A trouble free session allowed the track to rubber in, aided by a series of support races, before the Grand Prix cars set to start the 1967 campaign at 3:10pm.
When the flag dropped it was Denny Hulme who hooked up the start best to launch into the lead, as a challenge from Jim Clark saw him sandwiched out by the front row starting Brabham-Repcos. The chop from the two Brabhams allowed John Surtees to shoot through into third as the field braked into the tight first corner, with Jack Brabham in second. Only seventeen cars were in the herd that went through the first corner, however, as Luki Botha stalled and had to wheeled into the pits before the engine could be persuaded to fire again.
The end of the opening lap saw Hulme cross the line with a few car lengths in had, as it became clear that Brabham would be acting as a road block to allow the New Zealander to escape. Surtees was right on the Australian's tail, before Pedro Rodríguez battled past Clark through the run out of the final corner at the head of the rest of the field. Dave Charlton was the highest placed of the locals in seventh, while Graham Hill had dropped right to the back as he struggled with the H16 Lotus.
One problem during the early laps was visibility, despite the brilliant sun light on the circuit, which was pushing tarmac temperatures up to 50°C. The actual cause was the cement dust thrown after oil spills in the support races, with the marshals going rather overboard with the clean up material just before the Grand Prix. The effect was akin to running in spray during heavy rain, although the dust was soon thrown for the track surface in the early stages.
With the dust slowly clearing the Team Lotus effort was already beginning to fade, although it was actually the BRM of Jackie Stewart that failed first. Hill was just beginning to adapt to his refitted engine, picking off Sam Tingle and Piers Courage at the back of the field, but on lap six the Englishman ran wide at Crowthorne and bent his suspension, which further knocked off an oil line. As Hill put himself out of the race Clark was losing out to the top runners, with Jochen Rindt easing past on his charge to third.
The reason the Austrian's second move on teammate Rodriguez was for a podium spot rather than fourth was because Brabham went for a slide at Crowthorne Corner. This was only an issue when he received a slight touch from Surtees as he came back on which was enough to tip his car into a spin to dump him back down in fourth. Yet, it was not long before another driver went for a spin at Crowthorne, as the charge of Rindt was hobbled by a pirouette that put him back down to sixth.
A gap proved big enough to allow the Hill oil slick to be covered into apparently limitless supply of cement dust, as Hulme pulled a second a lap clear through the opening stages to lead by eight seconds after eight laps. Surtees remained in second and had already begun to wind in the Honda to try to make it last to the end having had several engine issues throughout the week. That allowed Brabham to lead the two Coopers right onto the back of the white/red machine, although passing the Brit proved more challenging than his pace suggested.
The quartet would run without change for a few laps, before a dive by Brabham at Crowthorne failed to get him past and allowed Rodriguez to get by. The Mexican then plotted his move for a lap, before using a good exit from Clubhouse Corner to pull alongside the Honda for a drag race to the Esses. Unfortunately, the game of who would brake latest did not go in favour of Rodriguez, with Surtees holding onto the position by braking later and on the racing line, despite Rodriguez being on the inside.
Rodriguez was soon to hit gearbox troubles that allowed Brabham and Rindt to get past with ease, although the issue would semi-clear after a few laps. Brabham now had Surtees in his sights and after a few false starts, the Australian finally elbowed his way past on lap 21 to set off after teammate Hulme. Rindt was the next driver to get a shot at taking the Honda, although a move at Leeukop only succeeded in putting the Austrian back behind Rodriguez.
The squabbling behind had allowed Hulme's lead to balloon out to over half a minute, while the absence of Clark in the fight was due to an overheating issue that put him on the sidelines. Behind the second place scrap were instead two of the Climax 2.75 litre cars, with John Love and Dan Gurney dicing. Those two had been running together since the early stages, and from the tenth lap on wards had begun a steady climb from tenth up to fifth and sixth, with the home crowd definitely cheering on the Rhodesian.
The Love/Gurney scrap was overshadowing the rest of the action for some time, which was good news for BRM as their second car (and the final car still running with their H16 engine) expired. Mike Spence had been as high as seventh when the engine finally let go, having just advanced to the fringes of the points as Jo Bonnier also fell away with a valve spring failure. They were quickly joined by Rindt, who had got past Rodriguez and Surtees relatively unnoticed as the locals drooled over the progress of Love, with the Austrian also left on the sidelines with an engine failure.
At the halfway point it was still a Brabham one-two, although that was changed a lap later when the owner coasted into the pits rather quietly. The Repco engine had dropped out on the exit of the final corner to leave Brabham to roll into the pits for an explanation. A probe of the major mechanicals and electrics revealed nothing of note, and an experimental push on the starter caused the engine to fire up again. Deciding that the problem was not worth worring about, Brabham was waved back out of the pits having lost four laps.
The flurry of activity due to problems, however, had been overshadowed by the work of Love, as he moved past Rodriguez and Surtees just after Brabham stopped, meaning he was in second. Gurney was still with him having shadowed the local racer through the former podium sitters, although the New Yorker's fortune ended a few laps later when his suspension failed. Surtees was therefore back on the podium, but with a tyre/handling problem, with Rodriguez baring down, while Love went up against the huge gap to Hulme up ahead.
Suddenly, the shape of the race was changed in the space of a couple of laps, proceeded by a retirement for Courage in the Reg Parnell Racing entered Lotus-BRM. The first was of particular interest for Rodriguez, as Surtees began to seriously struggle with rising cockpit temperatures, allowing the Mexican to cruise by when the pedals in the Honda began to burn the Englishman's feet. Then, Hulme was spotted waving at his pitcrew, slamming on the brakes to get the message across, before he stopped a lap later to have the fuel pump cooled with dry ice.
The speed with which the Brabham crew got to work suggested that this was a "planned" move, but the time it took to do so was enough for the home crowd to go ballistic, for Love was handed the lead with 20 laps to go. Hulme lost two laps in the pits while the cooling measures were applied, with Rodriguez upping his pace to try and catch the leading Rhodesian, while Surtees was limping to the line. The race was now in the lap of the local racer from Rhodesia, his misfiring engine not a concern as it had been doing so for most of the race, although the race held one cruel twist to come.
Ultimately, just six laps from the flag, Love had to stop to take on two gallons of fuel, the higher consumption due to the misfire forcing him into the pits. A huge groan from the crowd signalled the fact that Rodriguez had gone past with Love charging out to try and regain his lead, while new Cooper team manager Roy Salvadori could be seen frantically waving at the sole surviving Cooper, urging him to keep the pace low.
The Mexican responded and duly earned his first World Championship success, half a minute ahead of a heartbroken Love. Surtees had dragged the Honda round with a completely bald rear left tyre, which was significantly down on pressure, to claim a well earned podium, with Hulme two laps down in fourth. Brabham had managed to finish the race in sixth, too far back to challenge Bob Anderson who survived to claim fifth. Botha and Dave Charlton would also take the finish, but were too far back to be classified.
The full results for the 1967 South African Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||11||John Surtees||Honda||79||+1 lap||6||4|
|4||2||Denny Hulme||Brabham-Repco||78||+2 laps||2||3|
|5||14||Bob Anderson||Brabham-Climax||78||+2 laps||10||2|
|6||1||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Repco||76||+4 laps||1||1|
|NC*||19||Dave Charlton||Brabham-Climax||63||+17 laps||8|
|NC*||20||Luki Botha||Brabham-Climax||60||+20 laps||17|
|Ret||16||Piers Courage||Lotus-BRM||51||Fuel injection||18|
|Ret||6||Mike Spence||BRM||31||Oil line||13|
- * Charlton and Botha were not classified as they had not completed 90% of the race distance.
- Debut for Piers Courage in a Grand Prix car.
- Maiden victory for Pedro Rodríguez as he also became the first Mexican to win a World Championship race.
- Sixteenth and final victory for Cooper.
- Also engine partner Maserati's final victory (11 in total).
- John Love claimed his first and only podium.
- Love's contribution was also the 104th and final podium vist for Climax.
- Twentieth podium for John Surtees.
Victory unsurprisingly left Pedro Rodríguez at the top of the World Championship standings, while John Love was a career best of second. John Surtees would start the season in third ahead of Denny Hulme, while popular privateer Bob Anderson began the season with two points. Defending World Champion Jack Brabham would open his title defence with a single point.
The factory Cooper-Maserati effort were handed an early lead in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers standing after their victory courtesy of Rodriguez. Cooper were also in second with the privateer Climax powered effort of Love, while Honda were in third due to Surtees. Brabham-Repco were in fourth, the rules of the World Championship meaning that only the best placed car from each team scored points, with Brabham appearing again with the privateer Climax of Anderson.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: SOUTH AFRICAN GP, 1967', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr151.html, (Accessed 08/08/2016)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 2.65 2.66 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 2.73 2.74 2.75 2.76 2.77 2.78 2.79 2.80 2.81 2.82 2.83 2.84 2.85 2.86 2.87 2.88 2.89 2.90 M.J.T., 'GRAND PRIX OF SOUTH AFRICA: Heat and Altitude Problems', motorsportmagazine.com, (MotorSport Magazine, 01/02/1967), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1967/14/grand-prix-south-africa, (Accessed 08/08/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1967: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1967: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/afrique-du-sud/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2016)
- ↑ 'South Africa 1967: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1967/afrique-du-sud/classement.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2016)
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