A big field is entered for the finale of the 1983 World Endurance Championship, and includes not just the Group C entries, but also GT and touring cars from South Africa that are locally entered for the motor race. Ten weeks, after the race at Mount Fuji, we’ve reached the climax of the championship. Jacky Ickx is the favorite to earn the championship, and no matter what Derek Bell does and how he performs, if Ickx finishes in the top four, he will be the 1983 World Sports Car Champion. Anything can happen in racing, and usually does. The race is in mid-December, and that’s the rainy season here in South Africa.
During the practice days, you could set your watch by it. At 3:30 P.M. every afternoon, the skies would open. This Sunday’s race will be at 2:30. So, an hour in, the brollies will come up as there’s likely to be a shower or storm. It’s an all Rothman’s Porsche front row. Stefan Bellof had a monster lap for pole, running a 1:10.88. Watch for the #35 Brun Motorsport Gaggia sponsored Porsche 956. Touring car champion Umberto Grano of Italy, makes his sports car racing debut, sharing with Hans Stuck as well as fellow Italian, Massimo Sigala. Thierry Boutsen qualified fourth. Boutsen is sharing the #11 Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956 with David Hobbs and Desire Wilson. No longer a driver, John Fitzpatrick is overseeing his team, as the team manager.
Watch out for the #14 Porsche 956 as well. This is the car we are used to seeing in Canon colors. Here in South Africa, the car is in Team Gunston livery, to be shared by Jan Lammers, Johnny Palmer, and Henri Toivonen of Finland. Toivonen, a star of rallying was hopeful of driving. But he isn’t here at Kyalami, instead, recovering from illness. He will make his debut, next year, in 1984. Lancia is next on the grid with 1983 South African Formula 1 Grand Prix winner Riccardo Patrese, sharing the car with fellow Italian Alessandro Nannini. Lancia was beset with engine woes during practice. This race will be just under six hours… six hours, technically, and one hour of the race will be run at night.
Next on the grid is the second John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956. Car #16, with Kreepy Krauly sponsorship is to be shared by a trio of South African drivers, in their home race. Sarel van der Merwe sharing with Tony Martin and Graham Duxbury. Sarel van der Merwe and Graham Duxbury are stepping into sports cars for the first time. Van der Merwe is a South African rallying champion, while Graham Duxbury has run well in Formula Atlantic open wheel cars. The #5 Lancia is next on the grid in the hands of Piercarlo Ghinzani, Hans Heyer, and Italian Giorgio Pianta. It is unclear if Pianta will drive the car.
Lancia has the speed to stay with the factory Porsche’s, but they will need reliability to really be in the fight. Joest Racing has two cars in this event. Bob Wollek is slated to run in both cars. He shares #8 with Chico Serra of Spain, and Stefan Johansson. Wollek will also partner in car #12 with Dieter Schornstein and John Winter, real name, Louis Krages. Krages used the pseudonym so his mother would not find out he was a racing driver. More about that, will be known, as we continue this series on the World Sports Car Championship.
Tenth on the grid is the #8 car, the Johansson/Serra/Wollek entry. Eleventh on the grid is the #22 Kremer Porsche of Franz Konrad from Austria, Dutchman Kees Kroesemeijer, and South African George Fouche. Next up, another Rothman’s Porsche. This is the #3 with Al Holbert from the U.S. and Vern Schuppan sharing the driving chores. The car has a new double clutch transmission, being tested in this race by 2/3rds of the lineup that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans earlier in 1983. This is a hydraulic gearbox, which works via solenoids opening and closing hydraulic valves.
One clutch operates 1st, 3rd, and 5th gear. The other, 2nd and 4th. A driver can change gear without taking his foot off the gas pedal. Who will be the 1983 World Endurance Champion? Derek Bell, or Jacky Ickx? We have to watch out for the rainstorms, as Kyalami has had a lot of humidity, and is situated 6,000 feet above sea level. After the Eddie Kidd stunt show with a flying motorcycle over 13 Mazda’s and stunt drivers driving cars and trucks on two wheels, we are set to race. Here are the top qualifying positions.
- #2 Bell/Bellof Porsche 956 Rothman’s Porsche
- #1 Mass/Ickx Porsche 956 Rothman’s Porsche
- #35 Stuck/Sigala/Grano/Grohs Porsche 956 Brun Motorsport
- #11 Boutsen/Hobbs/Wilson Porsche 956 Fitzpatrick Racing/Carwill
- #14 Lammers/Palmer Porsche 956 Team Gunston
- #4 Patrese/Nannini/Alboreto Lancia LC2/83 Lancia/Martini
- #16 van der Merwe/Martin/Duxbury Porsche 956 Fitpatrick Racing/Kreepy Krauly
- #5 Ghinzani/Heyer/Pianta Lancia LC2/83 Lancia Martini
Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, are separated by a mere eleven points. It’s time, to race! Go! Bellof leads Mass, with Hans Stuck in third in the Brun Motorsport Porsche. Three wide behind the top three! Jan Lammers, Thierry Boutsen, and Riccardo Patrese are already playing dodge ‘em cars! Into Crowthorne corner for the first time. They sweep next into Barbeque Bend. Derek Bell leads Jochen Mass and Riccardo Patrese. Then come Stuck, Lammers, and Boutsen to round out the top six places. Bob Wollek runs seventh. The Rothman’s Porsche’s are pulling clear of everyone else.
There’s a massive scrum for fourth as Jan Lammers tries to get around Hans Stuck. For Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof, teamwork is paramount if they want to win the championship. Jacky Ickx has to finish fourth or better, to win the title, and his team mate Jochen Mass knows that. Hans Stuck goes past Bob Wollek, but Wollek isn’t finished by any stretch. Patrese, Lammers, and Stuck all battle for position. Leaders are hitting lapped traffic already, in among the Group B GT cars, the conventional touring cars, and the modified touring cars.
The weather is dry right now, as Piercarlo Ghinzani forces the issue on Thierry Boutsen! Whoa! That was close! Gently, boys. The storm clouds are gathering as the Rothmans Porsche’s still lead. Lammers and Wollek are all over Patrese like a rash. In ninth overall is the third Rothmans Porsche, car #3 of Al Holbert and Vern Schuppan. South African George Fouche is running well in his home race in the #22 Kremer CK5 Porsche he shares with Konrad and Krosemeier. The four car battle for third is really heating up at the moment.
Lammers, Stuck, Wollek, Boutsen. The world championship fight is on. Bellof will assist Bell. Mass will assist Ickx, as it’s down to Rothmans Porsche for the championship. Clouds are forming over Kyalami. Rain is not far away as Patrese and Lammers duke it out. Holbert and Schuppan are ninth in the overall with the #3 Rothmans Porsche. George Fouche is up there. Lammers wants it, and Patrese has it. No dice! Lammers is off the road and back on through Crowthornes! Thierry Boutsen is reeling in Piercarlo Ghinzani. Stefan Bellof puts a little daylight between himself and Jochen Mass.
Lammers wants the spot. But Riccardo Patrese won’t budge, and slams the door in his face. Bob Wollek is a real scrapper here, and he too, wants by Lammers. Bob Wollek puts the Joest car ahead of the Gunston car for the time being. Boutsen and Stuck close in, too. Bob Wollek is still going for it, but can’t pass in the Lindsay Saker liveried Joest Porsche. Dark clouds loom. The skies could open at any moment now. When it rains here in South Africa, by golly does it rain! The traffic jam is still there!
Wollek makes a genius move, using the back markers to his advantage. Some slow Group B and touring cars won’t get out of the way. Bellof leads Mass and Wollek and the clouds get darker. Piercarlo Ghinzani moves past Jan Lammers, but brakes very late! Don’t take your team mate out! Ghinzani nearly collects Riccardo Patrese, and gives Cesare Fiorio and the Lancia crew a moment of shock! That’s bad team tactics, boys. Look out! Al Holbert, meanwhile continues running ninth. Sarel van der Merwe has the second JDavid Porsche in tenth. That’s the one he shares with Martin and Duxbury.
Through the traffic jam, Hans Stuck overtakes Thierry Boutsen. Still on slick tires, the pit crews can no doubt see the rain coming. Stefan Bellof in P1, as Wollek and Patrese continue their battle. Bellof is about to lap one of the sister Rothmans Porsche’s, the #3. Mass is closing in, and the two Lancia LC2-83’S continue liner stern in fourth and fifth in the overall. Boutsen, Stuck, and Holbert complete the top eight. Sarel van der Merwe remains ninth. Pit stop time for Joest Porsche #8.
Jacky Ickx is preparing to take over Porsche #1, and Derek Bell, Porsche #2. Chico Serra replaces Bob Wollek in the #8 Porsche. Porsche #2 in the lane on lap 41. 244 make up this race on the 2.5 mile layout here at Kyalami. Porsche #1 is in, too. So, the championship battle is right here, in pit lane before our very eyes. The rules dictate the strategy. Five pit stops for a 1,000 kilometer race. Porsche #3 is also in the lane. Problems with the air jack on Porsche #1. Derek Bell leads this motor race by 55 seconds. Lancia #4 pits for fuel, tires, and a driver change over to Alessandro Nannini. Chico Serra runs fourth.
Rain clouds are more ominously inevitable now. A drizzle turns into a shower and could be a deluge at any moment. Treaded rain tires at the ready in pit lane. Rain is falling everywhere, and Jacky Ickx remains on slicks out on track. Porsche #2 hits the lane, from the lead. Rain tires for Derek Bell. Lancia are in the lane, too. Calamity corner has ensued as one of the Nissan GT cars slides off the road! That’s the #94 BP/Nissan/Autoquip Nissan Skyline. Hennie van der Linde and George Santana pilot the 2.8 liter V6 powered racer. He’s off the road, on the wet grass, and ker-runch! He slams the barrier, having careered through the safety net fencing down there.
Derek Bell leads and more off-roading! This time, it’s the #51 Sivama Lancia LC1. There’s a trio of Italian’s in that car. Pasquale Barberio is sharing with Mario Radicella, and Maurizio Gellini. The Lancia is back on the road, but the surface is getting wetter out there. Deary me! More drama! One of the Alfa Romeo’s in the touring car division is going for a wild ride on the grass! This is the #82 Alfa Romeo SA, Alfa South Africa entry. Arnold Chatz at the wheel of it, and… zonk! Into the tires Chatz goes! Rain is bucketing down, and there’s lightning flashing, too! This is going to be a cracking race for the rest of the way, if the weather stays in a sour mood.
Now, Vern Schuppan in Porsche #3 is going well, and one of the Lancia’s is off the road. Not the factory car, but one of the privateer entrants. That’s the Sivama entry with Mario Radicella at the controls. He’s totally overcooked it, and is in the fence down at that carpark at Leeukop on the far side of the track. Trouble for Rothmans Porsche! Jacky Ickx in pit lane, but he has damage to the 956! Ickx has looped it at Sunset Bend, turn four, not to be confused with the final turn at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. The ground effects and the undertray have been ripped away. This could present a major aerodynamic headache. Ickx has dropped to sixth overall, with the turbo exposed for all to see. The malaise continues for the Sivama Lancia. Derek Bell leads the driver’s championship, as Jacky Ickx is outside the top four.
…And, there’s a massive kerfuffle at Sunset! Chico Serra slid off the road, onto the grass, and would you believe it, David Hobbs in the #11 JDavid Porsche 956 has somehow come a cropper and landed on top of Serra’s race car! Game over for both cars and a couple of Porsche 956’s are headed to the Stuttgart junkyard. Reinhold Joest, and John Fitzpatrick will both be beside themselves seeing their cars out of this motor race. Serra spun off on his own, and Hobbs didn’t see him, and also went off the road, big style. The Sivama Lancia is still in trouble, in a dangerous place on the course. They ought to move that car, as Mario Radicella runs for his life!
Now, here’s what you call a sticky situation. The marshals are moving Radicella’s Lancia out of the way, to safety. The Alfa Romeo’s driver, Arnold Chatz or Eric Saunders (not sure which), doesn’t know that! Thank God they didn’t collide at two miles an hour! Jan Lammers brings the #14 Team Gunston Porsche 956 through. They’ve had their problems, losing a wheel and falling like a stone down the running order. Chatz and Saunders are in a real pickle right now, because the Alfa has a wobble wheel, and the catch fencing, pieces of it, are caught in the fenders.
Nissan #94 is also dragging that net having come out of the catch fence down there. Derek Bell still leads, but the Alfa Romeo’s these chaps are all over the shop! The #81 machine is four-wheel drifting his way around Kyalami. Rofino Fontes and Abel d’Oliviera share that racer. As the track dries, the bloke can’t do any drifting, because all that does, is pitch him off the road, and into a barrel roll in that same corner where we saw those earlier melees. That’ll teach you to show off in front of the public. It’s a complete sideways flip for the Alfa. Jacky Ickx is fifth overall, but now, he has a new problem, because the passenger side door of the Porsche 956 is open, flapping in the breeze.
Mercifully, the Nissan Skyline makes its way to the lane, dragging the mangled catch fence behind it. Oh boy! More drama! Big damage for Massimo Sigala, missing the entire nose of the #35 Brun Motorsports Porsche! Sigala, on slicks, paid the price, for ignoring his pit crew, begging him I’m sure, “Massimo, pit now, for slick tires!” Alfa Romeo #82 is in the lane, also with the catch fence dragging, while the poor old marshals are trying to get the team car off his head. Roll it over, boys. Good grief. The middle section of this motor race at Kyalami has become a pig’s breakfast! Derek Bell is driving like he’s on a mission, and poor old Abel D’Oliviera is back on his wheels, with a severely crunched roof on that Alfa Alfetta GTV6. One gently used Alfa Romeo… a fine motorcar and that’s no way to treat it, putting it on its lid.
Up to second is the #4 Lancia. We haven’t called their number for a bit, Alessandro Nannini at the wheel of it. A dry line forms on the road, but the Lancia squad is still on wet weather tires. Lancia #5 is second, and up to third comes Jacky Ickx. He’s still got the flapping door and the bodywork damage. An early stop for Alessandro Nannini! Now, their strategy means that they can’t take on fuel. The team opts for slick tires on Nannini’s car. Team boss Cesare Fiorio will be really upset about this, because his fuel calculations are botched now. Tires only for Nannini, and Fiorio isn’t in the best mood. Stay away from an upset team boss.
Porsche, in the lane with #1 and Jacky Ickx. Fuel, and slick tires. Ickx drops out of the top four, promoting Al Holbert and Vern Schuppan to fourth overall. Ickx’s second world title is in play here. Ickx spun at Sunset corner earlier. He resumes fifth in the overall. Team boss Peter Falk is diligently studying the lap charts, printing them off the computer, scanning every detail. Ickx has recovered to fourth overall and if he stays there, he’ll be the champ. Derek Bell pits Porsche #2, and routine service for the car, as well as changing drivers, back to Stefan Bellof for the finish. They go for slick tires. The two Rothmans team bosses are in an intense rivalry. Norbert Singer on #1 and Klaus Bischoff for #2.
Gunston pits their Porsche 956 from eighth overall, down a ways after their wheel fell off earlier. Jonathan Palmer replaces Jan Lammers. Lancia #5 in the lane for slick tires. We haven’t heard as much from Hans Heyer and Piercarlo Ghinzani today in South Africa. Ghinzani will take the car to the end. Porsche #2 leads. Al Holbert has been running a consistent fourth in the #3 Rothmans Porsche which is the fly in the ointment, the spanner in the works, for Ickx and Mass in their title quest. Meanwhile, the Lancia in second overall has lost the door!
Piercarlo Ghinzani gets a new door as his co-driver Hans Heyer wonders why, and is amused. Check that. That’s the top running Patrese/Nannini car, and Riccardo Patrese takes over. Graham Duxbury pits the JDavid, Kreepy Krauly Porsche 956 from fourth. The weather is back to normal. It will be dry as we’ve passed the halfway point in this motor race. Blue skies and sunshine abound. John Fitzpatrick is also in pit lane from fifth. No rain is forecast for the rest of the race, as Stefan Bellof and Derek Bell lead over the Lancia of Alessandro Nannini and Riccardo Patrese. Piercarlo Ghinzani and Hans Heyer have the sister Lancia, running third overall. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass have the second Rothmans Porsche fourth, and Graham Duxbury lies fifth, teamed with Tony Martin and Sarel van der Merwe. Sixth are Vern Schuppan and Al Holbert, driving the #3 Rothmans Porsche. Dieter Schornstein follows in the Porsche he shares with John Winter and Bob Wollek, and then comes the Gunston liveried Porsche, #14 of Jan Lammers and Johnny Palmer.
Jacky Ickx is holding on by his fingernails to the world championship, as the Castrol 1,000 Kilometers of Kyalami is building towards it’s climax. Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof still have their hands full with the two works Lancia’s. Who will be world champion? Will it be Jacky Ickx, with Norbert Singer leading the team? Or, will it be Derek Bell, with Klaus Bischoff at the helm of the team? Porsche #1 is into the pit lane from fourth in the overall. Jochen Mass will hand over to Jacky Ickx. The pit stop has to be quick so they don’t lose out to the fifth place car.
There could be bodywork damage on #1 because of a wheel rubbing, as now, #2 is into the pit lane and Derek Bell will take over the car. #2 undergoes a brake pad change as well. #1 beats #2 out of the lane! Wow! All is still to play for. Now, Graham Duxbury might try to play a spoiler here, because he is on the same lap as the #1 Rothmans machine. The world championship has come down to the two Rothmans Porsche’s as Lancia also stops in pit lane. Jacky Ickx is hotly pursuing, closing in on the Lancia for the final podium place. Porsche #16 is fifth, while #12 is sixth. Bob Wollek will soon replace Dieter Schornstein in the #12 car, but cannot score points. He is only listed to score points with the sister Joest Porsche, #8 that he started. That’s the Lindsey Saker liveried car he shares with Chico Serra and Stefan Johansson.
Whoa! Tony Martin is pushing hard, and nearly flies off the road in the fifth place Porsche, car #16! Pit stop time for the #14 Gunston Porsche, as Jan Lammers hands back over to Johnny Palmer. The sun sets as evening draws nearer at Kyalami. Porsche #16 pits another time at least for fuel. Oh boy! Lancia #5 is in pit lane and Hans Heyer is frantically, and animatedly gesturing to the mechanics there is a problem. One of the Lancia’s turbochargers isn’t working. It’s all happening, as the third Rothmans Porsche, car #3 is stopped on the road. This is going to be a wild end to the 1983 Group C season! Alessandro Nannini runs second in Lancia #4.
Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell are third. In fourth, it’s #16, followed by #12, the P&G Glass Porsche as Dieter Schornstein remains at the wheel of it. The fans are enjoying their barbecues, with some tasty looking food on the grill for dinner. Good food and motor racing. What more do you need? Hans Heyer has the Lancia back on track. We’ve had a great race, but the drama isn’t over! One of the Lancia’s is off the road at Sunset corner! Hans Heyer has crashed car #5! Game over. Jacky Ickx will consolidate third spot, and is set to become the 1983 FIA World Endurance Champion. Palmer and Nannini still run well in their respective cars.
An hour remains in the race, and the season. Poor old Hans Heyer has to be dejected after his crash. The sister Lancia remains second, as the sun is setting, and we will (for the first time since Le Mans) race in the darkness, for at least one hour, here at Kyalami. One pit stop to go as the dusk is gorgeous here in South Africa. No lights for the second place Lancia as they hit the lane for the final time. The team fits a new nose on the car, with working headlights, and that will solve the problem. Quick thinking by an aggravated Lancia team boss, Cesare Fiorio. Stefan Bellof brings the leading Porsche to pit lane to switch to Derek Bell to take the car to the finish.
If they win, it will be their third triumph of the season, having also scored victories at Silverstone and Fuji. Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass have won two races in 1983, at Nurburgring and Spa. Jacky Ickx makes his last pit stop. He must finish either third or fourth, and with either of those two places, he becomes the 1983 FIA World Endurance Champion. Last minute issues for the John Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche that was fourth. That is the Martin/Duxbury/van der Merwe machine. They’ve dropped to sixth overall, having to replace an alternator belt. Car #12 of Dieter Schornstein, John Winter, and Bob Wollek, has inherited fourth overall. Johnny Palmer and Jan Lammers are in fifth in the #14 Gunston Porsche. This is the end of the race, at night, and the end of the season.
Derek Bell and Stefan Bellof win the Castrol Kyalami 1,000 Kilometers! Jacky Ickx is the 1983 FIA World Endurance Champion! Ickx says the race wasn’t easy, because during the rainstorm, he spun and damaged the floor of the Porsche. Ickx said he just tried to stay around third or fourth, and not challenging their sister car. He says “Derek and Stefan were the fastest and had no mistakes.” Ickx was sure it was all over, but, there’s a strong bond of friendship at Rothmans Porsche. Ickx believes Bell should have been world champ. Bell knew he and Bellof needed to drive as hard as possible, but he was honestly not sure he was going to win. It was a difficult race in the rain, but Bell says that they pushed hard to the end of the race.
This is Jacky Ickx’s second World Championship. Ickx believes that there’s no team orders at Rothmans Porsche. Every driver is responsible. Beating team mates is a hard thing to do. It was down to luck and fortune. What will the racing be like, in 1984? Many more customer cars are coming in from Porsche, and Lancia will step up to the plate as well. Jacky Ickx is driver’s champion. Porsche is manufacturer’s champion, in 1983. We’ll see you, next year, in 1984, for more Group C racing action. So long, for now.