Chris Amon wins the Tasman Cup, the historic championship held between Australia and New Zealand
Chris Amon went down in history for never obtaining a victory in world championship Formula 1, despite getting very close to it several times and having driven a Ferrari for many seasons. Nonetheless, with Ferrari he won the Endurance, in the extraordinary 1967 edition of the Daytona 24 Hours with its parade finish, teaming with co-driver Lorenzo Bandini. Still with Bandini, he repeated the feat in the 1000 km of Monza. Always with Scuderia Ferrari, but this time in a single-seater, the New Zealander won the Tasman Cup in 1969, after reaching second place behind Jim Clark the previous year.
The Tasman Cup, held between January and February, involved Formula 1 cars from previous seasons or modified Formula 2 single-seaters whose engine capacity was increased to 2.5 litres. It was a major occasion for the teams, as it allowed them to sell cars, engines and spare parts to private drivers. The Tasman Cup was held in New Zealand and Australia and was named after the Tasman Sea that divides the two countries; it consisted of four trials in one country and three in the other, on permanent circuits and city tracks.
Amon won two races and almost gained the final victory in 1968, and was considered the favourite for 1969. He raced in a Ferrari Dino 246 Tasmania, 246T/69 series, with a 4-valve-per-cylinder V6 engine producing 290 horsepower. The car was a modified 166 Dino F2, with displacement increased to 2,404 cubic centimetres.
Amon earned pole position and immediately dominated the first race at Pukekohe (near Auckland), so prestigious as to be dubbed the Tasmanian Grand Prix. He was ahead of Jochen Rindt, his greatest contender, racing for the official Lotus team with Graham Hill, Piers Courage (driving a Brabham for the Williams team), and Derek Bell in the second Ferrari single-seater. The next race, at Levin, saw a new victory by Amon, while Rindt dominated at Wigram, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver coming in third place and Bell in fifth.
Both drivers gained the same position in the fourth event at Teretonga; Courage was the winner, although Hill started gaining some ground, galvanised by two consecutive second places. Amon settled the ranking scores at the Australian Grand Prix in Lakeside, on the Gold Coast, setting the best trial time and winning the race. The following outing was in Warwick, near Sydney, and saw Rindt victorious, although the stylish finish at Melbourne's Sandown Park crowned Chris Amon champion of the Tasman Cup, while Derek Bell ended up fourth with two second places.