ON THIS DAY – December 28th

ClarkJim-Lotus196208051963 was a big year for Jim Clark – the Scottish racer won his first world championship for Lotus and produced a record-breaking weekend just weeks later.

South Africa’s East London circuit played host to the final race of the 1963 calendar, two months after Clark had wrapped up the title in Mexico. Of course, Colin Chapman’s car and his star driver were still in attendance at the largely disused African circuit to complete the ten round season.

On this day, 51 years ago and seemingly effortless fashion, the newly-crowned champion qualified on pole position. His Lotus was unstoppable and Clark breezed to a comfortable victory in South Africa, winning his seventh race of 1963. His 70% win percentage was a record at the time and proved the Lotus to be a commanding competitor over a variety of circuits.

Clark’s second South African Grand Prix victory occurred 48 months after his first. The Scot’s final win – before his untimely death in 1968 – also took place in the African nation at the first round of the new season.

The South African Grand Prix, by this time hosted at the fast-cornered Kyalami circuit, was removed as a permanent fixture from the racing calendar in 1985 and would not return until 1992 following the end of apartheid. The last race, held in 1993, was won by Alain Prost and no talk of F1 returning to the country has been heard since.

Despite this, for Clark, the South African Grand Prix remains an integral part of his racing legacy all these years on.

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