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Thursday, June 20, 2024


THIS year’s edition of The Bend Classic will play host to a car that took part in one of the most controversial Formula 1 races of the modern era.

Among a host of F1 machinery set to compete at the Father’s Day weekend event, which will have free entry for spectators, is a Dallara F189.

The car was driven by Andrea De Cesaris for the BMS Scuderia Italia team during the 1989 season, its Ford Cosworth DFR V8 engine representative of the first year of the championship’s new normally-aspirated, 3.5-litre engine rules.

The chassis that will be at The Bend Classic is the car that the Italian raced in the final four Grands Prix of the season at Estoril, Jerez, Suzuka and the season finale in Adelaide.

De Cesaris qualified ninth on the grid – equalling his best result of the season – pipping teammate Alex Caffi to complete a team sweep of the fifth row.

De Cesaris equalled his season-best qualifying result of ninth, setting his quickest time in Friday’s qualifying session. Pic: Supplied

However, the sunny and dry conditions during practice and qualifying gave way to dismally wet weather for the race.

Controversy reigned as the cars formed up on the grid with several drivers, led by world champions Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet, contending that the conditions were far too dangerous to race in.

The formation lap actually began with a handful of drivers still not in their cars, while the race began with half of the field either wildly out of position on the grid or missing altogether due to the confusion.

Prost withdrew from second place at the end of the opening lap, but the red flags came out half a lap later after a crash from JJ Lehto blocked the track.

Senna leads Prost on the initial start – De Cesaris’ Dallara can be glimpsed through the spray in fourth place. Pic: an1images.com / Dale Rodgers

All but Prost lined up for the restart, which saw polesitter Ayrton Senna blaze off into the distance – on the opening lap he built a gap of almost nine seconds over second place!

Many cars spun off or crashed in the conditions and Senna was among them, slamming into the back of Martin Brundle’s Brabham after failing to see it through the plumes of spray kicked up by lapped cars ahead of them down Brabham Straight.

The race was thereafter dominated by Thierry Boutsen in a Williams, taking the chequered flag after just 70 laps of the scheduled 81 were completed within the two hour time limit.

Only eight cars were classified as finishers; this Dallara was not one of them.

De Cesaris actually ran a remarkable third during the chaotic first start and as high as sixth on the second start but his Dallara’s Pirelli tyres struggled in the wet conditions.

He made it just nine laps, surviving two massive spins only to back the Dallara into the barriers coming onto Brabham Straight when he suffered a third.

The Dallara returned to the city in recent years for the Adelaide Motorsport Festival with South African owner Andre Bezuidenhout but will be driven at The Bend Classic by the circuit’s managing director Sam Shahin.

Bezuidenhout campaigned the Dallara at the 2017 and 2018 Adelaide Motorsport Festivals. Pic: Supplied

Joining the Dallara will be several other cars with Australian links, including a Brabham BT26 raced by Sir Jack himself during the 1968 F1 season, the last in the championship for the Australian developed Repco engines.

The car was then sold to Frank Williams – later to start the Williams Grand Prix team – for Piers Courage to race in 1969, the late British racer driving the car to second place in the US Grand Prix.

The Brabham is now owned by the Kean family, who will also have on static display a Cooper-Climax raced by Sir Jack Brabham in the 1959 season and a 2000 Arrows A21-Supertec once raced by Jos Verstappen – father of current F1 star Max.

Josh Kean will also drive their 1994 Cosworth-powered Footwork-Arrows FA15, which was raced in that year’s Australian Grand Prix by Christian Fittipaldi.

Brenton Griguol’s pair of Larousse team cars from 1987 and 1988 will also take part in the Classic, while a Toleman TG185 raced in the 1985 season by Teo Fabi is also entered.

Approximately 70 cars are already confirmed to participate in the event – entries are still open – which will take place on September 5-6.

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