Race of Champions, a non-championship Formula One race was held at Brands Hatch

Sunday 10th April 1983

Race of Champions, a non-championship Formula One race was held at Brands Hatch. It was also the last non-championship F1 race to be held in the sport’s history. The reigning world champion Keke Rosberg in the Williams FW08, narrowly beat Danny Sullivan in his Tyrrell. Former world champion Alan Jones finished third in his last drive for Arrows.

Rosberg and Arnoux held their grid positions off the line, but Sullivan rose to third place after being given a nudge under braking for the first corner, the extra momentum forcing him into overtaking Jones around the outside instead of hitting him. Arnoux used the estimated 650 bhp (485 kW; 659 PS) available from his Ferrari 126C2B to blast past Rosberg on the straight at Pilgrims Drop on the first lap, but tyre trouble prevented him from pulling away. Johansson was the first retirement after four laps, the new Honda engine failing on its F1 début. Johansson had made a good start and had passed four cars before the Honda engine started to smoke going into Dingle Dell on lap 4 while chasing Rebaque. After a quiet first start with turbo power, Nigel Mansell ended his race with handling difficulties two laps later.

On lap seven, Arnoux, who had been passed for the lead by Rosberg going into Surtees, pitted for new tyres, his Ferrari wearing its rubber extremely quickly despite cool ambient temperatures (Arnoux also had major tyre troubles in practice and was lucky not to damage the car after blowing a rear tyre at speed on the run to Clearways). By lap 23 and two further stops, his team had no further sets of tyres and he was forced to retire with camshaft trouble, although he had set the fastest lap of the race as consolation, though his lap of 1:17.826 in the flat bottomed Ferrari was 5.458 seconds shy of Didier Pironi’s lap record of 1:12.368 set at the 1980 British Grand Prix in a ground effects Ligier-Ford. Watson retired with a bad driveline vibration, while Rebaque retired with tyre and suspension failure in a car he wasn’t totally comfortable with. In commentary, Murray Walker claimed that Rebaque looked at sea in the powerful Brabham-BMW, despite his recent experience in racing cars at the ultra-fast Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other oval speedways in the American-based CART series. Serra’s car broke its gear linkage also retired from the race.

At around half-distance of the forty-lap race, Rosberg also began to suffer from tyre wear, particularly blistering to his left-rear. Sullivan was using a softer-compound set of tyres, but had “scrubbed” them in the pre-race warm-up and had no such problems. For the final fifteen laps, he was right behind Rosberg, but never managed to overtake the Williams. Despite running side-by-side at places on the last lap, Rosberg held on to win from Sullivan, with Jones (still with two pins in his hip after breaking it falling off a horse on his farm in Australia) half a minute behind in third. Henton, Boesel, and the lapped Schlesser and Guerrero completed the finishers.

Rosberg would later add the championship Monaco Grand Prix to his victory haul in 1983, but the other finishers would not approach their results at this race in any other F1 Grand Prix in 1983.

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