F1 Returns to South Africa
Briton Paul Ingram scored a fine victory in his ex-Lammers Shadow DN9-2B as F1 cars returned to Kyalami. The Thoroughbred Grand Prix race underlined the country's bid for a contemporary Championship round in 2001.
Six-time national champion Dave Charlton's demonstration of Michael Schryver's Lotus 72/3 set the tone for the event, seen by 20,000 enthusiasts. The flat out sections of the old Kyalami may have been bulldozed, but much of the back link remains.
Joaquin Folch (Lotus 87/3) beat Ingram to pole with a superb display of car control. Behind them, Ian Giles (Brabham BT49D), Mike Whatley (Ensign) and Steve Pontin-Warltier (Arrows A5) were closely matched.
Ingram outdragged Folch at the start, but the Spaniard soon took the lead. Ingram applied pressure, survived a hairy moment, roared past and pulled away. Despite his tyres going off, Folch closed Ingram down, but it wasn't until an exhaust shattered and the Lotus lost power that the result was beyond doubt. "I heard a loud boom, and thought the engine had blown," said a gutted Folch afterwards.
Giles had a lonely run to third once Whatley spun, but a fabulous battle for fourth embroiled the Arrows of Hachler, Pontin-Warltier and Nigel Smith. TGP debutant Smith drove beautifully to claim the place from Hachler. Schtyver took seventh in the Gold Leaf Team Lotus 72, ahead of the recovering Whatley.
"I can't think of a better place to win my first race in an F1 car," said Ingram. "It's the most technically challenging place I've driven, but I feel for Joaquin who also deserved his first victory. He really made me work for it." On the strength of their showing, and strong national media support, promoters immediately invited the TGP circus back to Kyalami in 1999, hopefully for the finale of the FIA Championship.