PAGE 16

AUTOWEEK

OCTOBER 16, 1976

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Continued From Page 15 seconds; James was now 2.5 seconds behind Scheckter. The fascination of the race was focussed on the gaps, now. Their development in the next few minutes could well show us the next world champion: if Lauda caught up and won, he'd have the points chase sewn up. If he couldn't make the pace, though, Hunt's chances brightened. Lap six: 2.5 seconds and 5.7 secondsLauda had gained. Lap seven: 2.3, 5.7Hunt had gained. Lap eight: 3.3 (!) and 5.0-J ames must have really screwed that one up! As the leading trio hammered away at the hard core of the race, the gaps between them held steady within broad enough limits to keep the tension up. Durin the intervals when they disappeared out around the 3.3-mile Glen circuit there was enough keen action behind them to keep the day feeling warmer than it was. Stuck for one thing was moving up dramatically well from his poor start, and had joined on the big chase going on for the midfield positions. Depailler overtook Peterson, but then immediately was out of it with a broken fuel line. Ronnie dropped away too, his front suspension bent. Without them, it was Brambilla still fourth from Laffite, then Pace, Watson, Regazzoni, Andretti, and Mass. A little farther back there was a fourcar run between Larry Perkins, Alan Jones. Jacky Ickx and Emerson Fittipaldi, but on the 15th lap a nasty crash broke it up. In the downhill left-hander halfway around the lap (the one before the scene of Helmut Koenig's 1974 death) Ickx' car suddenly snapped sideways, oscillated the other way, and charged the outside guardrail head-on at nearly a right angle. The front of the Ensign apparently went under the lowermost rail (there should not be any chance of this in a properly constructed barrier system), forcing the rail to bow up, which allowed the front of

USGP

Jean-Pierre Jarier had a new Shadow DN8 for the USGP. but it wasn't enough to hold off the ligier of lafitte; he finished 10th. and lafitte later crashed when a tire burst. the chassis to then catch on a post. As the bulk of the car bounced back across the road, the front end of the monocoque was literally ripped off and took most of the right side of the car with it, fuel tank and all. There was a big explosion of gasoline flame as the back two thirds of the car stopped in the middle of the track. The driver, embraced in what remained of the cockpit-all of the left side, very little of the right side, plus the dash hoop,
UNITED STATES GRANO PRIX. WATKINS GLEN GRANO PRIX CIRCUIT. WATKINS GLEN. NEW YORK, OCTOBER 10, 1976 ENTRY AND QUALIFYING Hames Hunt. Mclaren M23 , 1:43.622: 2-Jody Scheckter. Tyrrell P34, 1:43.870; 3-Ronnie Peterson, March 761.1 :43.941; 4Vittorio Brambilla. March 761. 1:44.250: 5-Niki Lauda, Ferrari 312TI2, 1:44.257: 6-Hans Stuck. March 761. 1:44.265; 7-Patrick Depailler, Tyrrell P34, 1:44.516: 8-John Watson Penske PC4. 1:44.719; 9-Tom Pryce, Shadow DN8, 1145,102: 10-Carlos Pace Brabham 8T45, 1:45.274: l1-Mario Andretti, Lotus 77, 1:45.311: 12-JacQues Lafitte. Ligier JS5 , 1:45.324: 13-larry Perkins, Brabham ilT45, 1:45.363; 14-Clay Regazzoni . Ferrari 312TI2. 1:45.534: 15-Emerson Fittipaldi , Copersucar F004. 1:45.646: 16Jean-Pierre Jarier, Shadow DN8, 1:45.979: 17-Jochen Mass, Mclaren M23, 1:46.067; 18-Alan Jones. Surtees TSI9. 1:46.402: 19-Jacky Ickx, Ensign MN05, 1:46.605: 20-Gunnar Nilsson. lotus 77. 1:46.776: 21-Harald Ertl, Hesketh 308B, 1:49.418: 22-Alex Ribiero. Hesketh 308B, 1:49.669: 23-Warwick Brown. Williams 05, 1:51.124; 24-Brett Lunger, Surtee~ TSI9. 1:51.373; 25-Arturo Merzario . Williams 05 , 2:00.932; 26-Henri Pescarolo, Surtees TSI9, 2:05.211. RESULTS I-Hunt, 59 laps or 199.243 miles in 1:42.40.741 for an average speed of 1J.6.43mph; 2-Scheckter, 59; 3-Lauda , 59; 4-Mass. 59: 5Stuck, 59; 6-Watson. 59; 7-Regazzoni, 58: 8-Jones, 58: 9Fittipaldi, 57: 10-Jarier. 57; l1-1unger. 57: 12-Ribiero, 57; 13-Ertl, 54; 14-Brown. 54: 15-Pescarolo, 48. DNF: Pryce, 45, engine; Lafitte, 34. tire: Brambilla, 34. tire ; Pace. 31 , shunt; Perkins, 30, suspension: Andretti. 23, suspension: Ickx, 14, shunt: Nilsson, 13. water leak: Peterson , 12, !Suspension; Merzario. 9, spin. shunt; Depailler, 7. fuel hose.

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Warwick Brown in one of the Wilfiams cars gets a closelookat the ligier/ Matra of Jacques lafitte as lafitte blasts past him ,

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steering wheel and gearshift-was still alive, conscious, and not as badly injured as he ought to have been. He was able to get himself out and, hobbling on one foot, get to the side. Jacky's injuries seemed to be definite breakages in his right foot and ankle, hairline fractures in the left ankle, and minor other contusions and light burns. The track was not seriously blocked, and racing continued hard and hot. The pattern began to alter little by little under the pressure. Lauda began slowly but

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definitely to drop away and by haH distance Niki was decidedly out of the factoring for a win. Hunt though was beginning to close on Scheckter. Tenth by painfully won tenth, the McLaren began exploiting Tyrrell weaknesses. J ody had started out catching oversteer slides; now as the car lightened it began to understeer instead, and he was having to drive it harder and harder to keep it balanced. The six-wheeler tends to weave and wobble at the best of times, and these were not the.best of times any more. Hunt, his McLaren's handling going from light over steer early on to easy neutrality as it settled in, was ruining Jody's day. Halfway through the race he was down to a second behind and then he began to work on fractions of a second. At lap 37 James saw an opening and came alongside and took the lead of the United States GP. "I wanted to get away at that point as fast as I possibly could," James explained afterward, and indeed he did raise a gap from 1.8 to 2.3 in the next two laps. "But then I got baulked in behind a backmarker at the chicane and got off the cam, and whilst I was fishing about for more gears Jody got by me again, I was a wee bit annoyed about that. " He had all that work to do over again. It took five laps hovering in the draft, but finally McLaren passed Tyrrell at the end of the long straight and this time it stuck. There were only a dozen laps left to run and Hunt made them all count, He set the race's fastest lap, a new record, six from the end, and Scheckter accepted the inevitable finally and cut back to a cruise, All this while Lauda had been dropping ever farther behind, "Terrible oversteer " was his problem and with the end of the race in sight he had his third place in jeopardy too. Mass was closing up fast. The McLaren backup driver had been holding his own in the thick of the midfield scr'Tlble. Once, he admitted lat.er, he 'd come together with another

member of it. "Charlie Pace made a mistake in one corner and it let me come up alongside him, and we went together nose-to-nose into the next corner. I'm sorry we hit, but it was partially his fault. He climbed over my wheels and went off," The others had had trouble too. Laffite, having overtaken Brambilla at long last, immediately went well ahead but then aparently his right rear tire picked up a bit of debris and burst at top speed on the straight. The whole right rear suspension was torn off, and as Brambilla swerved to avoid the accident he too burst a tire. Andretti, his engine misfiring, lost touch with the bunch and later on he bent his front suspension on the Scheckter Chicane and retired. Watson too had engine trouble, a loss of power, so as he got involved with Stuck, Mass alone of the group survived to do something about the opportunity presented by the slackening Lauda. As the Ferrari's oversteer dropped it back, the McLaren was driven with ever more enthusiasm, and Jochen made a: mighty effort to close. As Niki appeared out of the last corner of the last lap the pursuit literally was on his tail. "I won't say he was blocking me on the last lap," said Jochen, "but he certainly was popping his head from side to side watching me in the mirrors!" As they went together under the flag, Mass straining and half pulled out to overtake, the air gap between them was 0.1.34 of a second. Fi ve and a half seconds after that, Stuck was just k eeping Watson off by 0.212 second. It was not the best of races, this 15th of the 16 rounds of 1976 (although some will say it had the " best" result!) but it was a good one. The central fact about the United States GP, though, was the growing feeling of incredibility about the World Championship. When we start adding it all up as history two weeks from now it's going to seem like gross fabrication, But whatever happens, the Japanese are going to see a really grand finale.

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