Final Triumph for Matra
Kyalami, November 9th: The loss of Chrysler (Simca) sponsorship could result in a seriously curtailed programme next year for the Matra team, but they finished the 1974 season in fine style with another 1-2 victory in South Africa. It was the Matra team’s ninth consecutive win this season, and once again the Gulf team earned third place a considerable distance behind. Sixteen 9-hour races have been held at Kyalami, but this year’s race (curtailed to six hours) was the first to have World Championship status and the entry was the best in the history of the event. Two Matras for the usual drivers, Larrousse/Pescarolo and Beltoise/Jarier ranged against two Gulf GR17s for Bell/Hobbs and Schuppan/Wisell, last year’s winners Joest/Mueller in a Porsche 908, two works Chevrons for Lepp/Guy Tunmer and Gethin/Ian Scheckter, plus a works Ford Capri for Mass/Hezemans and a works BMW CSL for Peterson/Jody Scheckter. A total of 26 cars started the race.
Although the Matra team had not visited Kyalami before, the 670C cars were soon lapping close to the lap record to set the pace in practice, with Bell’s Gulf third quickest but one second per lap slower. The pattern of the race was entirely predictable, as usual, though in the opening laps Bell was able to put his Gulf between the Matras driven by Beltoise and Larrousse, until the British car’s tyres overheated and made it difficult to drive. Both Matras had tyre chunking problems, Larrousse’s worse than Beltoise’s, and after three hours of racing they were two laps apart with the Gulf another two laps down.
A heavy rainstorm at half distance made the race considerably more difficult for the drivers, though more interesting from the spectators’ point of view. Beltoise slowed dramatically as the track became flooded in places but Larrousse drove extremely well to make up the two laps and go into the lead; Bell also made up some of his deficit, but behind them Peterson’s BMW ran into the back of Joest’s Porsche and both cars retired immediately.
As the race finished, in darkness, the two Matras closed up to finish half a length apart, Pescarolo ahead of Jarier, with Bell/ Hobbs six laps behind; Schuppan’s car was not classified, having lost time with a broken throttle cable and then with a loose rear wheel. Fourth place was taken by the Chevron driven by John Lepp/Guy Tunmer while the younger Tunmer brother, Mervyn, was second in the 2-litre class driving the Escuderia Montjuich Lola with Richard Lloyd. — M.L.C.
Results (top five): Kyalami
1st: H.Pescarolo/G.Larousse (Matra-Simca 670C – 3-litre V12) – Group 5 – 235 laps – 160.74 k.p.h.
2nd: J-P.Beltoise/J-P.Jarier (Matra/Simca 670C – 3-litre V12) – Group 5 – 235 laps
3rd: D.Bell/D.Hobbs (Gulf-Cosworth DFV – 3-litre V8) – Group 5 – 229 laps
4th: J.Lepp/G.Tunmer (Chevron B26 – Ford BDA – 2-litre) – Group 5 – 217 laps
5th: J.Mass/T.Hezemans (Ford Capri RS – 3.4-litre V6) – Group 2 – 215 laps