South African GP 1968

South African GP, 1968

New Year's Day at Kyalami and the 1968 season began with Team Lotus favorite for success following two end of season victories in 1967. The team was unchanged with Jim Clark and Graham Hill in Lotus-DFV 49s. There had been changes amongst the opposition with the new World Champion Denny Hulme having left Brabham to join Bruce McLaren's McLaren-BRM team. Jack Brabham had replaced Hulme with former Cooper driver Jochen Rindt but the technical package was unchanged, although Repco was working on a new V8 engine, designed to compete with the new Cosworth DFV. Ferrari retained Chris Amon and hired rising Belgian star Jacky Ickx, while Honda continued with John Surtees and an updated version of the Lola-built RA300, designated RA301. BRM had a completely new car with Len Terry having designed the P126 featuring the new BRM V12 which had appeared in the back of the McLaren at the end of 1967. Mike Spence was still with BRM but had been joined by Cooper's Pedro Rodriguez. Jackie Stewart had departed to join the new Matra International team which was being run by Ken Tyrrell with Matra chassis and Cosworth engines. Matra Sports entered a second car with a Matra V12 engine (although the year began with an old Cosworth FVA) for Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Cooper had recruited Lodovico Scarfiotti and Brian Redman to replace the departed Rindt and Rodriguez, while Rob Walker had gone into partnership with Jack Durlacher and was running a Cooper-Maserati for Jo Siffert while waiting for a Lotus 49 to become available. Anglo American Racers continued to run Dan Gurney while Reg Parnell Racing did not make the trip to South Africa

In qualifying at Kyalami Jim Clark was fastest by a second with his Lotus teammate Graham Hill alongside him with Stewart in the Matra completing the front row. On the second row there were the two Brabham-Repcos of Rindt and Brabham while the third row featured Surtees in the Honda and the Ferraris of Andrea de Adamich (in a third car) and Amon.

The race began with Stewart taking the lead from Clark while Hill dropped back to seventh behind Rindt, Surtees, Brabham and Amon. On the second lap Clark took the lead while Brabham overtook Surtees and Hill passed both Amon and Surtees to run fifth. Further back there was drama when Scarfiotti's Cooper suffered a water leak and the driver was scalded by the escaping hot water. He was taken to hospital with first degree burns.

On the seventh lap Brabham overtook Rindt for third place but soon afterwards he ran into engine trouble and dropped back, leaving Rindt third again. He came under threat from Hill and on lap 13 the Englishman moved to third place. Amon moved into fifth place having overtaken Surtees on the same lap.

The order remained stable as Hill chased and caught Stewart and on lap 27 he moved ahead. Stewart stayed with him until lap 43 when the Matra retired with a connecting rod failure. This moved Rindt to third once again and the order then remained unchanged all the way to the finish with Lotus scoring a dominant 1-2 finish with Rindt third.

It would be Clark's last World Championship event. He would be killed in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim in April, before the European season began.

Jim Clark Lotus-Cosworth 49 80 1h53m56.600s  
Graham Hill Lotus-Cosworth 49 80 1h54m21.900s  
Jochen Rindt Brabham-Repco BT24 80 1h54m27.000s  
Chris Amon Ferrari 312 78  
Denny Hulme McLaren-BRM M5A 78  
21 Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra-Cosworth MS7 77  18 
19 Jo Siffert Cooper-Maserati T81 77  16 
John Surtees Honda RA300 75  
17 John Love Brabham-Repco BT20 75  17 
nc 23 Jackie Pretorious Brabham-Climax BT11 70  23 
Dan Gurney Eagle-Weslake T1G 58 Mechanical 12 
Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312 51 Oil Tank 11 
20 Jo Bonnier Cooper-Maserati T81 47 Wheel Lost 19 
16 Jackie Stewart Matra-Cosworth MS9 43 Engine 
18 Sam Tingle LDS-Repco MK 3B 35 Overheating 22 
25 Basil van Rooyen Cooper-Climax T79 22 Engine 20 
11 Pedro Rodriguez BRM P126 20 Ignition 10 
Jack Brabham Brabham-Repco BT24 17 Engine 
10 Andrea de Adamich Ferrari 312 13 Accident 
12 Mike Spence BRM P115 Boiling Fuel 13 
14 Brian Redman Cooper-Maserati T81B Engine 21 
22 Dave Charlton Brabham-Repco BT11 Transmission 14 
15 Ludovico Scarfiotti Cooper-Maserati T86 Accident 15