Springbok Series 1969

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FIRST on the list of races in southern Africa which constitute the annual Springbok series was the Kyalami 9-Hours on November 7th. Freak weather conditions and a multitude of accidents reduced the number of cars which started, but the race provided Piper’s Porsche 917 (co-driven by Attwood) with an excellent win.

The Kyalami race invariably attracts the best field of the entire series, and again this was the case, despite the last-minute withdrawal of two Matra 650 prototypes by the French concern. There remained two Porsche 908s, four Lola T70s of different ages and capacities, a Ferrari P4, a Ford GT40, a lightweight Mirage-Ford, sundry less potent saloons and sports cars and two of the promising new Chevron B16s with “stretched” versions of the Cosworth Formula Two FVA engine.

Attwood swept ahead from the start and began to pull out a good lead, while the Lolas and Porsche 908s disputed the runner-up placings. Redman, sharing a Sid Taylor/Team Gunston T70 Mk. 3B with former South African Formula One Champion Love, disposed of Koch’s Porsche and then passed Bonnier, who was sharing his Lola with Wisell, into second place. Bonnier was back into second place before the first half-hour was complete, Redman making a pit stop to replace a rocker in his big 6.2-litre Chevrolet engine. But then the Swede seriously damaged his car when he ran into the banking. Moving up into a challenging position at the end of the first hour was yet another Lola, this one entered by Grand Bahama Racing for de’Udy and Gardner, closely pursued by the 5.7-litre Mirage-Ford entered for Hailwood and Gethin by Malcolm Guthrie Racing.

After a short period of rain, the Redman/Love Lola was retired with a broken differential: the heavens then opened and the track became flooded in places for more than an hour, which enabled small saloons to drive rings around the sports cars. The race settled down with the Porsche 917 narrowly ahead of the de’Udy/Gardner Lola, but Attwood was later penalised four laps for exceeding the number of laps permitted to be covered in one session and the British car went ahead. Attwood’s efforts to make up for the penalty were not really needed, for Gardner ran into problems while restarting after a pit stop and the race ran out with the Porsche in front by two laps.

The unfortunate Kauhsen, who was sharing Schultze’s Porsche 908, collided with an errant spectator while holding a firm third place, so it was the Dechent/Koch car which took over the place. The Chevron B8 driven by 60-year-old Jack Holme only failed by a matter of yards to snatch fourth place from the Renault saloon which had made the most of the wet conditions earlier in the event, while the remaining Chevron, the Martland/Lucas B16, was delayed by electrical problems.

Two subsequent and much shorter events were both won by the successful de’Udy/Gardner twosome, although Love (driving single-handed) put in a close challenge at Cape Town. In the Portuguese country of Mozambique, Love retired his Lola with overheating and the race looked like providing Attwood (this time driving Guthrie’s Mirage) with a win. Unhappily, he pulled in to complain of heat exhaustion with only minutes to go, falling behind not only the winning Lola team but also the Ferrari P4 with which Widdows and Walker were going particularly well. They finished on the same lap as the leaders.

Full results will be published next month.