Lauda Wins In Belgium

,
Hunt Balks Then Breaks
By Pete Lyons
ZOLDER, Belgium-Pouring out from
under the Belgian flag, it looked at first
like a great race. For once Hunt
performed a proper start, matching
Lauda's routinly perfect one, and because
Regazzoni lagged back, the Ferraris were
split by the McLaren into the first corner.
So far, so good, James was as free as he
was ever going to be to beat Niki.
Maybe for two laps he was able to flatter
himself with that idea; the whole race
stayed nose-to-tail that long. Then Lauda
opened up. Settled down, tires warmed,
GRANO PRIX OF BElGIUM, ZOLDER, BELGIUM, MAY 16, 1976
ENTRY & QUALIFYING
I · Niki Lauda, Ferrari 312T. 1:26.55 around 2.622-mile course
for an average speed of 1l0.205mph; 2-Clay Regazzoni , Ferrari
312T. 1:26.60; 3-James Hunt. McLaren. 1:26.74; 4-Patrick
Depailler. Tyrrell P34, 1:26.91: 5-Vittorio Brambilla, March,
1:26.93; 6-JacQues Laffite. Matra, 1:27.14; 7-Jody Scheckter,
Tyrrell P34, 1:27.19; 8-Chris Amon, Ensign, 1:27.54; 9-Carlos
Pace, BrabhamAlfa, 1:27.66; 10·Ronnie Peterson, March, 1:27-72;
II-Mario Andretti, JPS, 1:27.75;12:Carlos Reutemann, Brabham
Alfa. 1:28.30; 13-Tom Pryce, Shadow, 1:28.37; 14-Jean·Pierre
Jafler, Shadow, 1:28.38; 15-Hans Stuck, March, 1:28.41; 16-Alan
Jones. Surtees, 1:28.44; 17-John Watson, Penske, 1:28.44; 18-
Jochen Mass. McLaren, 1:28.50; 19-Patrick Neve, Brabham,
1:28.80; 20·Larry Perkins, Bora. 1:28.81; 21-Arturo Merzario,
March, 1:28.84; 22-Gunnar Nilsson, JPS, 1:2B.99; 23-Loris Kessel.
Brabham, 1:2909; 24-Harald Ertl, He.sketh. 1:29.40; 25-Michel
Leclere, Williams. 1:29.46; 26-Brett Lunger. Surtees, 1:29.76. Did
Not Qualify: Emersl>ll-Fittipaldi. Fittipal di, 77.
RESULTS
I·Lauda, 70 laps in I hour, 42 minutes. 53.23 seconds for an
average speed of lOB.094mph; 2-Regazzoni. 70; 3-Laffite, 70; 4-
Scheckter. 70; 5-Jones, 69; 6'Mass, 69; 7-Watson, 69; 8-Perkins,
69; 9-Jarier , 69; 10- Pryce. 68; II-Leclere, 68; 12-Kessel, 63; 13-
Lunger , not running, electrical system, 62; 14-Pace, fuel system;
58; 15-Amon , lost wheel and crashed, 51: 16-Hunt, transmission,
35; 17-Stuck, suspension, 33; IB· Ert!. 31; 19-Depailler, engine,
29; 20·Andretti, CV Joint. 28; 21-Ne've, CV joint. 26; 22-Merzario,
engine, 21; 23-Reutemann, engine, 17; 24-Peterson, crash, 16; 25-
Nilsson, jammed thrott le. 7; 26-Brambilla, driveshaft. 6.
FASTEST LAP: Lauda, 1:25.96, new course record.
numbed ribs okay, he started forging
away from Hunt at a rate of 1.5 seconds a
lap. Zoom- the race actually was over. It
took Regga a couple more laps to p r ove it,
but the seventh time down into the first
corner, he shoved by, in side, into the
a pex. James moved out of the way with a
startled jerk, and then could do no mor e
than watch the s econd Ferrari dwindle
away after the fi r st.
Now began one of the most gut-twist ing
episodes seen at this level of motorsport s
in a long time. James Hunt, and we can
only imagine what kind of a mood he must
have been in, became the most obstinately
obstructive driver on the track. Jacques
Lafitte, having moved the Ligier-Matra
up into fourth place at the start, was next
up to copy Regazzoni's pass. But Hunt
bitterly fought off his every attempt. Into
one of the chicanes the blue car shot over
to the inside, smoke whisping from a
front tire, and came exactly alongside
Hunt' s red one. Hunt stubbornly held his
line, and his rear wheels machined a ring
into the flank of the Ligier. Pushed into
the curbing, Lafitte lifed his foot and the
McLaren's wheel went on to climb up over
his right front one. Bump.
Lafitte recovered fourth place after a few
more laps and then, after perhaps taking
a deeper breath, addressed Hunt again.
Sixteen laps into the race he made it
through into third place, and thus
inspired, Depailler go by Hunt next time
'round.
That made Scheckter next in the queue,
he tried in his turn, and the second six-
wheeler actually made it by-but at the
next corner the McLaren got its own back.
Jody worked himself up again and with 22
Is this the Year Of The Multis? Judging from the Zolder event , in which Jacques Lafitte in the Matra, pictured
above in one of the track's chicanes, finished third behind two Ferraris it just may well be.
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PUBLISHED WEEKLY AUTOWEEK PAGE 13
The Tyrrell Project 34 of Patrick Depailler leads a line of cars into the braking zone for a fast left-hander.
laps gone in the race gave it another
mighty try. Hunt had come down into the
braking zone for turn one, well over
towards the middle, protecting his place,
but Scheckter had stayed out on the
normal outside line and at the last
moment James veered out to the outside
for a proper entry. Instantly Jody
whipped down to the inside and thrust his
four front wheels up inside the McLaren' s
two. He actually got on ahead again, but
was going too fast, and went plowing on,
wide of the line. James merely slipped
around to the inside behind the Tyrrell
and accelerated away; there he was, still
ahead!
Two more laps and J ody tried one more
time, got up alonside on the inside at the
apex; this time there blue puffs of tire
smoke as the Project 34 bounded all three
of its left-side wheels up onto the curbing
and once again gave best to the McLaren.
Now, you or I might have slacked off for
a bit of a think along about now, but our
Jody bored in once more starting on the
27th lap. And this must have been the
paint where James came to his senses. He
stayed on the normal racing line this
time, and let Jody through with feet to
spare.
That really was that, for shortly
thereafter, the McLaren began puffing out
oily smoke. Next in the line was the
beautifully running Ensign, but rather
than follow the Tyrrell by, Chris Amon
hung back and awaited the inevitable. It
came just over half distance: starting his
36th lap, Hunt pulled over and parked, his
gearbox seized. End of a very bad
weekend for James.
Amon was having a very good
weekend, for he immediately closed up
the gap on Scheckter and started
challenging to get by. Now Jody found
himself in the bad guy's role, and spent
Continued On Next Page
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