Part 5: Pieterse, Lederle and Love take titles
Having already commenced an incredible era that in fact preceded the World Championship by a season in 1961, the South African Formula 1 championship moved to 1500cc power only for the ’62 season, which kicked off with the four-race international Springbok Series.
That move to 1500s may have spelled the end of the road for the likes of George Cannell’s Cooper Chev V8 and John Hannings’ Austin Jaguar, but it also opened the door to the local series to be fully compatible with the World Championship, except for being limited to four-cylinder engines.
1962 – AN ERNEST ATTACK
1962 started in ‘61 at Kyalami’s 75-lap 9 December Rand Grand Prix, with a cracking entry including Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor in a pair of works Lotus 21 Climaxes, Jo Bonnier and Edgar Barth’s factory Porsche 718s and Masten Gregory’s BRP Lotus 18/21 Climax. Add a pair of Reg Parnell Cooper Climaxes – a T53 for Tony Maggs and a T56 for Bruce Johnstone and the regular SA crew – champion Syd van der Vyver’s Lotus 18 Alfa, Doug Serrurier in Scuderia Lupini’s Cooper 51 Maserati, Scuderia Alfa lads Ernest Pieterse in the Heron and Eugene Bosman’s Lotus 15 and Fanie Viljoen in George Mennie’s LDS Climax
Helmut Menzler was in a Lotus 18 Borgward, Sam Tingle an LDS Climax, Trevor Blokdyk a Cooper T56 Ford and Adrian Pheiffer, Bill Dunlop and John Guthrie Cooper Alfas. Local driver-makers, Don Philp’s Quodra Climax, Bill Jennings’ Jennings Porsche, Bob van Niekerk’s Judette and Rauten Hartman’s Netuar added some stunning variety, but Pillman’s LDS Porsche was not ready for John Love.
Clark started from pole from Taylor and Maggs, with the Porsches at the back after arriving late, as Clark led all the way to win from Taylor. Bonnier came from the back to third from Barth and top SA runner Johnstone, while sixth-placed Pieterse and van der Vyver completed the local podium.
Durban’s new Westmead was next up for the first Natal Grand Prix, which also attracted Stirling Moss’ BRP Lotus 18/21 Climax, Rhodesian Dave Wright’s Cooper Climax and local lad, Neville Lederle in a Lotus 20 Ford. Love rolled the LDS Porsche in practice, while Moss arrived late after collecting the BBC Sportsman of the Year award and started at the back.
Clark led off pole, while Moss had already passed Maggs for third on lap 16 and Bonnier for second seven laps later. Johnstone spectacularly crashed out of fourth to allow Barth to follow Clark, Moss and Bonnier home, with Syd van der Vyver the first local car home from Serrurier, Pheiffer, Blokdyk and Jennings.
Clark then promptly made it three poles on the trot at the South African Grand Prix at East London on 26 December and led the way, but he had to drive off the track to avoid a stranded Wright as Moss, Taylor and Bonnier slipped by. Taylor also went off and retired after avoiding slower traffic, leaving Clark to pass Bonnier and chase down and pass Moss for the win, with Bonnier third from Maggs in a fighting forth. Van der Vyver the first local entry home from Serrurier and Tingle.
The circus then travelled down to Cape Town for the New Year’s Day ’62 Cape Grand Prix at Killarney as nineteen cars lined up with Clark on yet again on pole. Bonnier leapt into the lead, but the Lotus duo were soon ahead as Taylor held Clark off for the win as the Scot lowered the lap record by two seconds in the chase. Bonnier was third with van der Vyver again the best South African home in seventh from Pieterse, Love’s LDS Porsche, Menzler and van Niekerk.
The local season continued with a pair of 16 March Rand Autumn races as Pieterse arrived at Kyalami with the ex-Clark Lotus 21 painted red, and a local lad by the name of Pieter de Klerk was out for the first time in his self-built Alfa Special. Pieterse led but slowed with a linkage failure to leave Love ‘s LDS Porsche to beat der Vyver and an on-form Tingle, de Klerk, Viljoen and Lederle. Pieterse dodged a second race startline fracas to pass de Klerk for third, then van der Vyver for second and finally Love for the win, while Tingle kept de Klerk close for third overall behind Love and van der Vyver.
The championship then moved on to a resurfaced and slightly longer Roy Hesketh for the 56-lap ‘Maritzburg 100 three weeks later, where Syd van der Vyver’s newly acquired ex-works Lotus 21 Climax took on Pieterse’s similar pole-sitting machine. Pieterse did not look back from the start, in spite of Serrurier’s best efforts before his LDS Alfa overheated to leave de Klerk second from van der Vyver and Bernie Podmore’s Lotus 20 Ford.
The championship stayed in Natal for the 18th Coronation 100 at Westmead a fortnight anon, with Fanie Viljoen back in his LDS Climax, Dawie Gous in his new LDS powered by his engine that he had quickly extracted from his Porsche Spyder, with which he’d won the 6-hour the day before, and the rest as top three van der Vyver, Serrurier and Lederle shared identical qualifying times!
The impressive Lederle led Pieterse, van der Vyver, Serrurier, Muller and Henderson as Viljoen, Muller and Podmore crashed and Serrurier, Bosman and the flying de Klerk stopped. Pieterse and van der Vyver then found a way past Lederle to go on to the 1-2 from Lederle Gous, Ray Reed’s Lotus Ford and Gordon Henderson’s Scorpion Alfa.
Pieterse and van der Vyver both acquired a new 6-speed Colotti gearboxes in time for Kyalami’s midyear Republic Day Trophy and Serrurier arrived with a lower, sleeker new LDS Alfa to complete the front row. He led five laps until passed by Pieterse after fuel leaked onto van der Vyver’s brake pedal, his foot slipped off and he left the track to leave Pieterse win from de Klerk and Lederle. His hat trick of wins also saw Pieterse draw level with early season star van der Vyver in the title race.
Pieterse, van der Vyver and Serrurier filled the front row among 13 starters for the two 25-lap Border 100 heats at East London on 9 July. Serrurier stalled on the first race start and then both he and van der Vyver hit gearbox trouble, leaving Pieterse to win from Lederle, de Klerk and Viljoen.
Van der Vyver passed six cars off the second race start down to Copabana and he was past Serrurier and up to second behind Pieterse by lap 7, but his Climax was smoking and then he was out as Ernie Pieterse raced to another double win from Serrurier, de Klerk, Podmore, Lederle and Viljoen to take the day from de Klerk and Serrurier and clinch the ’62 SA Driver’s title.
There was just a week to the Westmead 120 in Durban, where Pieterse broke a crank and did not start in spite of van der Vyver and him working through the night to try fix the problem. That left van der Vyver to romp from pole, break Stirling Moss’ lap record by half a second and win from Serrurier, de Klerk and Podmore. But van der Vyver had a misfire from the get-go in race 2 to leave Lederle to win from Podmore, overall winner for the day Serrurier and de Klerk.
Pieterse flew to England to fetch a crank in time for Kyalami’s Rand Autumn Trophy two weeks later, where he and pole man van der Vyver broke the lap record 22 times in their duel until Ernie tangled with the lapped Dave Hume’s Cooper Climax, with Hume and van der Vyver eliminated in the ensuing drama. Pieterse escaped to win from de Klerk, Lederle, Dunlop, Viljoen, Niemann and Serrurier, hobbled by a wheel bearing issue. With Syd out, Pieterse sailed to an easy second race win ahead of a fraught dice resolved in Lederle’s favour from de Klerk, Dunlop, Viljoen, Niemann and the again delayed Serrurier.
There was a two-month gap before for two more 24-lap Rand Spring trophy heats, but Pieterse was out with a broken foot and van der Vyver had sold his Lotus 21 to Lederle by the time the circus arrived at Kyalami. Rhodesian former world motorcycle champion Gary Hocking however famously arrived with the ex-Parnell Lotus Climax, promptly put it on pole, and broke the lap record as he cleared off to two wins. Hocking beat the dicing Lederle, Serrurier, de Klerk and Tingle in race 1, and Lederle, de Klerk, Viljoen and Tingle in race 2, as he took the lap record down to the 1 minute 36s.
That sensationally wrapped up the 1962 South African Drivers Championship with Ernest Pieterse a deserved champion after scoring 51 points from his best six results versus the luckless Syd van der Vyver’s 37 following a memorable year of racing. Peter de Klerk was a close third on 32 points over Serrurier with 30, Lederle, Maggs and Love.
But that’s not all – if four grands prix and ten national championship rounds were not enough, there was more than enough non-championship action through 1962 too. Lederle won the Kyalami Bardahl Trophy in March and Serrurier the Hesketh Invitational in April, before de Klerk won the Heany Trophy and Hocking the Rhodesian Grand Prix in June at Kumalo. Van der Vyver also won Westmead’s Royal Show Races, de Klerk the Lourenço Marques Governor General Cup and Hocking November’s Zwartkops Total Cup.
1963 – LEDERLE ALL THE WAY
1963 promised another busy year with a full season planned, starting with a three-race Springbok Series including South Africa’s first-ever World Championship Formula 1 round – and the final round too, never mind! As it always was back then, those races happened over three weekends through the annual South African holiday season, starting with Kyalami’s 13 December 50-lap fifth Rand Grand Prix over the weekend before everyone left Johannesburg for their beach holidays.
Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor’s Lotus 25 Climax V8s were back chasing fresh glory in the South African sunshine and set to face up against Graham Hill and Richie Ginther’s works BRM P57 V8s, John Surtees in the Bowmaker Lola Mk 4 Climax V8 and Innes Ireland in a UDT Laystall Lotus 24 Climax V8, while Rob Walker grabbed Gary Hocking to drive his Lotus 24 Climax V8.
With the rules tweaked to allow more than four cylinders for the first time, the local entries included Syd van der Vyver’s new ex-Brabham Lotus 24 Climax V8, Ernest Pieterse and Neville Lederle’s faithful Lotus 21s, Peter de Klerk’s Alfa Special and Doug Serrurier, Sam Tingle and Eugene Bosman in a trio of LDS Alfas. Add Fanie Viljoen in the Mennie LDS Climax, Adrian Pheiffer and Mike Harris’ Cooper Alfas and Bob van Niekerk and Bernie Podmore’s Lotus Fords, while Brasuch Niemann was the only of the 14 reserves to qualify his stripped-down Lotus 7.
Clark and Taylor pipped Hill for pole, with van der Vyver the best local from Lederle and Hocking. The Lotuses disappeared into the distance to from Hill, while Lederle led the local charge in seventh from Serrurier, de Klerk and Pieterse as Clark and Taylor put on a formation finish over Surtees. Hocking fought his clearly recalcitrant car to fourth ahead of local contingent Lederle, Serrurier, de Klerk and Viljoen, after Pieterse broke a con-rod and van der Vyver stopped to save his under-geared V8.
The Second Natal Grand Prix raced under a cloud. Perhaps the brightest prospect in Formula 1, Gary Hocking was believed to have suffered a steering failure before a massive accident that tragically claimed the Rhodesian world motorcycle champion’s life. Fellow Rhodesian Eric Glasby was then hospitalised after crashing his Cooper Alfa at the same spot.
Clark’s pole lap was four seconds under van der Vyver’s record, from Ginther and Bruce Johnstone back in an older works BRM P48/57, Lederle, van der Vyver and John Love also back from Europe in his Cooper T55 Climax and recovered from breaking his arm in a Formula Junior crash. Johnstone got the jump, but Clark was soon fighting Ginther for the lead ahead of Johnstone, Clarks the Lotus however ground to a halt to hand Ginther the win from Johnstone, van der Vyver, Tingle, Viljoen and Clive Trundell’s Cooper 45 Climax
Ginther and Hill were each side of Taylor on the second race front row, before Taylor led from flag to flag as Clark charged from the back to second, where they finished in spite of both nursing their cars with Ginther closing in fast. Lederle topped the local race from Pieterse, Love, de Klerk and Tingle. Van der Vyver had a sizeable accident in the race and happily emerged unscathed from his badly damaged Lotus to close off a weekend to forget.
Two days before the end of the year, the South African Grand Prix drew an incredible 90 000 fans to East London to watch Graham Hill and Jim Clark, both of whom had won three grands Prix through the year, and Lotus and BRM fight it out for the 1962 Formula 1 Drivers and Maker’s World Championships. A second race – the Daily Dispatch Trophy meanwhile ran the day before to accommodate the local entries that did not qualify for the Grand Prix.
For the Grand Prix, the Springbok Series field was swelled by Jack Brabham in his own Brabham B3 Climax for the very first time, Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs’ works Cooper T60 Climax V8s, Roy Salvadori alongside Surtees in another Bowmaker Lola Climax and Count Godin de Beaufort’s old 1.5-litre Porsche 718, while Rhodesian champion Mike Harris entered his Alfa-powered ex-Surtees T53.
Clark had to win to be champion and duly smashed the lap record with his 1:28.9 pole lap in his new fuel-injected car, from Brabham and Ireland, but he opted to race with a venerable carburetted Climax V8. Clark was soon off to a 20 second lead over Hill, McLaren and Maggs and it seemed all over bar the shouting, but clearly the fat lady had not yet started as the Lotus started to smoke at three-quarter distance and then stopped in the pits. That handed the race win and the world championship to Graham Hill and BRM as McLaren and Maggs raced to the line for second with Brabham and Ireland close behind.
Neville Lederle was the first local home, doing South Africa wonderfully proud as he scored a world championship point in a wonderful sixth from Ginther, Love, Johnstone, Pieterse and de Beaufort, who pushed his Porsche over the line. The balance of the locals raced the Daily Dispatch Trophy the previous day, which Pieter de Klerk won after a race long battle with Bob van Niekerk and Sam Tingle, with Trevor Blokdyk, Eugene Bosman and Fanie Viljoen closing off the top six ahead of Philp and Henderson among an impressive fourteen finishers.
With no Cape Grand Prix, Bob van Niekerk beat Blokdyk and Tingle after Tony Kotze’s unique Assegai’s Alfa engine broke in Killarney’s January Gigi Lupini Trophy, the first of a couple of non-championship races. Peter de Klerk beat Podmore and Nieman to the other race, the February Roy Hesketh Dicky Dale Memorial, before SA Championship action resumed at Kyalami’s 3-race Rand Autumn Trophy, which attracted an impressive 24 entries.
Doug Serrurier won the first heat for Libre cars in Jack Nucci’s Lotus 23 Alfa from Trevor Blokdyk in his Cooper T56 Ford and Basil van Rooyen in the ex-Lederle Lotus 20, while Lederle took the second F1 heat in his Lotus 21 Climax from Serrurier’s LDS Alfa and Pieterse’s Lotus 21 Climax. Lederle was in a commanding lead in the final when he had to stop for fuel to let de Klerk and Pieterse through before resuming to claim third ahead of Serrurier.
Next stop was the Easer weekend Coronation 100 at Roy Hesketh, where van der Vyver returned with his Lotus 24 repaired following his Grand Prix crash, to grid second behind Lederle. Neville then made off, leaving Syd to fight Pieterse off for second in both heats, with Serrurier, Henderson and Holme closing off the top six overall.
Kyalami attracted its usual strong entry for the 6 June Republic Day Festival races, where van der Vyver was much happier having cured the valve timing ills of his Climax V8 to claim pole from old rivals Lederle and Pieterse. Serrurier, Tingle, Love and de Klerk in Nucci’s Lotus 23 had the crowd on their feet before Lederle made off to an easy win, leaving van der Vyver’s evil handling 24 to claim second from Serrurier, Pieterse and de Klerk.
John Love was back and on pole position from van der Vyver and Serrurier for the Roy Hesketh Royal Show Trophy on 22 June. Van der Vyver led early on, only for Love to haul him in and take the lead before his Climax developed a misfire to let Syd take the win from Pieterse, Serrurier, Niemann and Trundell as Love spluttered home in seventh.
Disaster struck when van der Vyver’s Lotus was sadly destroyed in a workshop fire in the week before the Border 100 in East London, a setback that prompted double South African champion Syd to retire from racing.
Peter de Klerk had however completely rebuilt and upgraded his trusty Alfa Special in time for the Border race and despite a practice coupling issue, lined up second behind Lederle and pounced into an early lead. Pieterse and Lederle duly took over up front to win in that order from Serrurier and Brausch Nieman in Lanfear’s Lotus 22 Ford after de Klerk pitted.
Back at Kyalami for Rand Winter Trophy on 3 August, Lederle was in imperious form in his Lotus 21 Climax as he sped to victory over Pieter de Klerk’s Alfa Special and Brausch Niemann’s Lotus 22 Ford, Serrurier and Dave Charlton’s Lotus 20 Ford.
Two races were then cancelled at Westmead and Roy Hesketh, which meant that Neville Lederle was in an unassailable championship position when national championship action resumed at the van Riebeek Trophy on Killarney’s traditional late September date. Neither Pieterse nor Love had their cars ready, so it seemed that Lederle would be untroubled in the Cape as he put the Lotus on pole alongside de Klerk and Niemann.
The latter duo collided in Damps Dip on the opening lap, eliminating Niemann, but local heroes Don Philp in his old Cooper Climax and Tony Kotze now with a Ford engine in the Assegai had the crowd on its feet. Then Lederle picked up a misfire to allow de Klerk and Serrurier to beat him to the flag. De Klerk went out early in heat 2, before Niemann passed Lederle, who followed him home to claim overall victory. Piet van Niekerk’s Lotus 18 was second in that race from Philp and van Niekerk and Dave Charlton’s Lotus 20 Ford, as van Niekerk ended third overall from Philp and Charlton.
John Love was back in top form for Kyalami’s 40-lap Rand Spring Trophy season finale as he put his Cooper on pole from Lederle and de Klerk. Love and Lederle then embarked on a race-long battle ahead of a four-way dice for third resolved in de Klerk’s favour from Pieterse, Serrurier and a resurgent Tingle after Blokdyk stopped.
Lederle meanwhile took advantage of Love being held up by a backmarker late in the race to open a two second gap he’d hold to the finish to wrap his title up in perfect winning style. Neville ultimately dominated the championship, scoring 54 points out of his six beast race results that counted as he beat Pieterse on 31 points, de Klerk 27, Serrurier, van der Vyver and Love.
There were as usual more than ample non-championship F1 races through 1962 over and above the regular grands prix, nationals and the Gigi Lupini and Dicky Dale races noted above as Syd van der Vyver won the Royal Show Races at Westmead in a Lotus-Climax and Brausch Niemann a June Libre race at Killarney in his Meissner Ford-powered Lotus 7.
Pieter de Klerk drove his Alfa Special to another Lourenço Marques Governor General Cup from Ernest Pieterse’s Lotus 21 Climax and Trevor Blokdyk’s Cooper 51 Maserati in July, before de Klerk also won the Des Wolff Trophy in Sailsbury in October and John Love won the Rhodesian Grand at Kumalo Prix December in his Cooper Climax.
1964 – LOVE’S FIRST BITE
The 1964 Championship once again kicked off with the Springbok Series Rand and South African Grands Prix in December ’63, before nine more local rounds through the year.
Run over two 25 laps heats at Kyalami on 14 December, the star Rand Grand Prix attractions were John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari 156 V6s on the Scuderia’s first ever trip to South Africa to take on ‘62 winners Clark and Taylor’s Lotus 25 Climax V8s and David Prophet’s Brabham BT6 Ford.
The local contingent included Ernest Pieterse’s Lotus 21 Climax, John Love’s Cooper T55 Climax, Peter de Klerk’s Alfa Special and Doug Serrurier and Sam Tingle in an LDS Alfas. Brausch Niemann was in Ted Lanfear's Lotus 22, Scuderia Lupini had Trevor Blokdyk in the Cooper Maserati, while South African motorcycle racing legend Paddy Driver was out for on four wheels for the first time in the ex-Jo Siffert Lotus 24 BRM V8.
Taylor led off the start, but pole man Surtees, Bandini and Clark were soon ahead of Taylor, de Klerk, Niemann, Love, Serrurier and Blokdyk. Then both Lotus’ fuel pumps overheated within laps of one another, forcing Clark and Taylor to stop and leave de Klerk to an incredible third behind Surtees and Bandini and ahead of Love, Serrurier, Blokdyk and Pieterse, who had recovered from a startline issue.
De Klerk sensationally snatched a brief second heat lead before Surtees and Bandini took over, while the struggling Clark and Taylor’s Lotuses hobbled in spite of makeshift ducting to try cool their petrol pumps, diced de Klerk and Love as Surtees took another dominant win from Bandini, Love, de Klerk, Clark, Taylor, Prophet and Pieterse. Surtees took the day from factory Ferrari teammate, Bandini, brilliant de Klerk and his self-built Alfa Special, Love’s Cooper Climax, Pieterse’s Lotus Climax and Blokdyk’s Cooper Maserati on among SA racing’s finest hours.
Once again counting for the F1 World Championship although Jim Clark had long taken the ’62 championship, the South African Grand Prix attracted a splendid grid of state-of-the-art 1500 V8 F1 machinery to dreamy December East London. Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney’s Brabham BT7 Climaxes, Bruce McLaren and Tony Maggs’ Cooper T66s Climaxes and Graham Hill and Richie Ginthers’ Owen BRMs joined the Rand Grand Prix entry list, along with Jo Bonnier’s Rob Walker Cooper 66 Climax and Count Godin de Beaufort’s boxer-4 Porsche 718.
Lotus had moved its fuel pumps ahead of the radiators for better cooling to see Clark on pole, off which he took an easy win from Gurney and Hill, who pinched the title second from teammate Ginther, McLaren and Bandini. John Love won the four-cylinder race from the visiting de Beaufort, with Serrurier and Blokdyk completing the South African podium, as Gurney set a new 1 minute 29.1 lap record.
It was barely a week before the locals were back at Killarney’s 25 lap non-championship Cape South Easter, which Love won from Tingle, Serrurier, Blokdyk in the Hoffman Cooper T53 Alfa and Alex Blignaut in a Cooper T45 Climax.
The nationals resumed at Kyalami’s 29 February Autumn Trophy, with de Klerk on pole, but Pieterse led as Love dropped down the field and then fought back from seventh to third when a thunderstorm struck. Pieterse, Love, Tingle, Serrurier and de Klerk went off and Love recovered best, but he could not hold surprise winner Puzey and Serrurier off, while de Klerk recovered to fourth.
Next up, the Roy Hesketh Coronation 100 attracted a full grid to ‘Maritzburg for two 33 lap heats with Pieterse pole. De Klerk played chicken best down the start straight to lead Love, Pieterse, Serrurier and Puzey. Love soon passed de Klerk to win, with Serrurier third in spite of a spin, from Dave Charlton’s Lotus 20 Ford, Blokdyk and Alex Blignaut after Pieterse stopped.
Serrurier led heat 2 early on but was passed by Love, Charlton and de Klerk, who then out-braked Charlton to take second to leave Love to win from de Klerk, Charlton, Lionel Rowe’s Lotus 7 Ford, Serrurier and Blignaut, with the top three in finishers the same order overall.
East London’s Border 100 attracted an 18-car grid as de Klerk led pole man Love, Pieterse, Serrurier and Tingle. Love passed de Klerk for the win and Pieterse chased de Klerk home with Tingle fourth from Gordon Henderson’s Scorpion Alfa and Jackie Pretorius’ LDS Climax.
Seventeen cars started Kyalami’s Rand Winter Trophy over two 24-lap heats with Love again on pole, but Doug Serrurier’s LDS Alfa powered off the second row to lead. De Klerk’s faster Alfa Special and Love’s nimbler Cooper were however soon ahead in an epic battle, but de Klerk was better through the traffic and found a gap to win by two seconds, with Serrurier and Pieterse and Puzey and Tingle fighting hard behind. Love won race 2 with de Klerk close staying close enough behind to ensure he scored a a half-second overall win, while Pieterse followed Blokdyk home with Puzey shadowing them too, to take third for the day.
Neither Love nor Pieterse started the next race at Roy Hesketh, leaving de Klerk to lead off pole. But Blokdyk’s Cooper Ford recovered from an early spin to win from sixth as he picked off de Klerk, Serrurier, Puzey, Brian Raubenheimer’s Lotus 20 Ford and Henderson en route. Love was back for Heat 2 but he damaged his radiator against Blokdyk’s exhaust tailpipe on the warm-up lap before, both leaders Blokdyk and de Klerk both spun. The latter allowed Serrurier to take second from de Klerk and Puzey as Blokdyk took the day from de Klerk, Serrurier and Puzey.
That led de Klerk leading Love by just two points in the championship, but Love was one of many not to enter the Killarney van Riebeek Trophy. So, if de Klerk won, he’d be champion and he duly led from Blokdyk, Puzey and Serrurier. But de Klerk had gearbox trouble in both races and Puzey and Serrurier crashed to leave Blokdyk to win from Denis Guscott’s Lotus 21 Climax.
All of which meant that the 1964 South African Driver’s Championship went down to two 24-lap heats at a blisteringly hot Kyalami Rand Spring Trophy finale on 10 October. Johannesburg race fans were treated to a fine 20-car entry and a title fight going down to the wire.
Love made his intentions known with pole position before moving into the lead over Blokdyk and de Klerk, with Serrurier, Pieterse and Tingle in close attendance, but de Klerk was in trouble with an overheating engine as he dropped to the back and out of the points. Then Love slowed with a broken clutch, but still he managed to fend Blokdyk off for second ahead of a tight battle between Pieterse, Tingle and Serrurier, before Tingle’s gearbox broke to leave Pieterse and Serrurier third and fourth.
Without a clutch, Love started at the back in race 2 – all eyes were on the Cooper, which faltered before taking off – the hunt was on! De Klerk soon worked his way into the lead, which he held for five laps until his engine started to overheat again, leaving Blokdyk to retake the lead from Pieterse. Love then passed Pieterse for second and set off after Blokdyk as he closed the gap enough to take the overall win. Pieterse and Serrurier were once again third and fourth in the heat to take those positions overall for the day.
That an epic drive from the back of the grid, with no clutch and having to hold his car in gear, was enough to hand John Love first South African Driver’s Championship by all of three points from de Klerk, Blokdyk, Puzey and Pieterse. It was also the first time a Rhodesian had taken the title. It was however a tough break for Peter de Klerk, whose late season bad luck that clearly cost him the title.
It was also the end of an era, for South Africa’s Formula 1 rules would soon follow the World Championship and double up to three litres during the 1965 season. Come back soon to follow that just as intriguing transition…
Part 4: South Africa Leads the World
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