• South African Grand Prix

Clark makes it a magnificent seven

ESPNF1 Staff
December 28, 1963

Jim Clark made history by winning the final grand prix of the year in South Africa, becoming the first man to win seven grands prix in one season. In doing so, he surpassed legendary drivers Alberto Ascari and Juan-Manuel Fangio, who both won six in a season.

Once again Clark qualified on pole, and was quite simply in a class of his own for the entire race. Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney were alongside him on the front row of the grid, and Brabham took the advantage off the line to go into the first corner in the lead. But Clark and John Surtees soon got past and pushed him back into third.

Brabham fought back and retook second from Surtees, but by this time Clark was over seven seconds ahead, and however much he tried, Brabham could not catch the flying Lotus. His challenge faded when he began to lose power and dropped back, to be overtaken by Surtees and Graham Hill.

Surtees retired a few laps later with engine problems, which elevated Hill to third at the finish. Ginther, who had been running fourth, suffered a transmission problem just over half way through the race and had to retire. Brabham spun in the closing laps and also didn't make it to the finish.

Clark lapped all the other drivers except for Gurney, and even though he slowed up in the closing stages, he still had more than a minute to spare at the finish. Clark had dominated throughout the season, driving Colin Chapman's Lotus with the assurance of a much more experienced driver. He still thought of himself as a sheep farmer rather than a racing driver, but, to many, the 26-year-old Clark was already looking like one of the greatest drivers there had ever been.

This race also marked an end to the South African Grand Prix for a while. It would return in 1967, but to Kyalami, a new purpose-built track on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

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