• South African Grand Prix

Rodriguez reigns in race of attrition

ESPNF1 Staff
January 2, 1967
John Surtees leads Jack Brabham and Pedro Rodriguez © Sutton Images

The first championship grand prix to be staged at Kyalami was won by Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez, driving a Cooper Maserati, leading home Rhodesian John Love.

In searing heat and at altitude, which caused fuel vaporising problems, only eight of the 18 starters made it to the finish. The engine on Jackie Stewart's BRM blew up after two laps, while Graham Hill, on his debut for Lotus after switching from BRM, dropped out four laps later when his suspension broke. Double champion Jim Clark lasted only 22 laps before his race ended with a fuel leak.

Although Ferrari missed its second successive race because of the rebuilding of its racing department, there was a full entry otherwise with eight private entries. There was also an unusual format to the race, with practice days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday ahead of the grand prix on the Monday, although only ten cars took advantage of the extra day's practice.

A thunderstorm on the Sunday night washed the track clean of rubber but exposed sharp stones which seriously reduced the life of the tyres; there were further complications resulting from marshals overzealously covering oil with cement dust.

Denny Hulme led off the line and on the third lap set the fastest lap of the day, leading from Jack Brabham, the gap reaching 27 seconds by the halfway stage. When Brabham was forced to pit, Love, driving an old private Cooper with a Climax engine, moved second.

Hulme then slid into the pits, yelled at his pit crew, and resumed driving, re-entering the pits a lap later for repairs and brake fluid. To the roar of a large crowd - reportedly the biggest ever assembled on the African continent - Love swept past and Hulme eventually resumed in fourth.

Love, in the least powerful car on show, appeared set for a remarkable victory before he had to pit for fuel with six laps remaining, allowing Rodriguez through for the win. As he gently brought his car to a halt, it was observed Rodriguez's tyres were completely bald.

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