PAGE 16

AUTOWEEK

OCTOBER 30, 1976

Hunt Is World Champion
Continued From Page 1 No, y ou wouldn't believe it in capsule form. The morning was bad and getting worse. Heavy mist hung low over the raceway and rain sprinkled down steadily. Water had long since puddled on the track. Nevertheless the morning warmup got off on schedule, and Fl cars looked like children's toys dragged through the mud as they slid around the corners. And off them: in the very fast fifth gear corner leading to the final turn Jarier and Stuck spun round, and Perkins went off into the fences hard enough to "tear the back off the gearbox." Moments later teammate Pace spun there too. The session ran to its end; and then the drivers had a worried consultation and agreed-most of themthey would not agree to race in the conditions. "Approaching the first corner there's a huge puddle and you've got to brake for the braking area," reported Hunt grimly. Aquaplaning was happening viciously all round the circuit, and visibility was very low. For several hours it looked as if the main, rather the only, story of the day was going to be the various sides of the nonstory, but nearing 3pm the officials gird ed their multiracial loins and announced the race would indeed start. Conditions were even worse than before
JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, FUJI INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. SHIZUOKAKEN , JAPAN. OCTOBER 23. 1976 ENTRY AND QUALIFYING I-Mario Andretti . Lotus. l:C2.77 for an average speed of 133.992mph; 2-James Hunt. Mclaren. 1:12.80; 3-Niki Lauda . Ferrari , 1:13.08 ; 4-John Watson. Penske. 1:13.29; S-Jody Scheckter. Tyrrell . 1:13.31; 6-Carlos Pace. Brabham. 1:13x43; 7· Clay Regazzoni . Ferrari. 1:13.64: 8-Vittorio Brambilla . March. 1:13.72: 9-Ronnie Peterson, March, 1:13.8S; 10-Masahiro Hasemi , Kojima. 1:\3.88: ll-JacQues Lafitte. Ligier. 1:13.88: 12-Jochen Mass. Mclaren . 1:14.0S; 13-Patrick Depailler, Tyrrel1.1:14.lS; 14Tom Pryce. Shadow, 1:14.23 : IS-Jean-Pierre Jarier. Shadow. 1:14.32; I -Gunnar Nilsson , Lotus . 1:14.3S; 17-Larry Perkins. Brabham. I :AP.37; 180-PmM Stuck. March . 1:14.38: 19-Arturo Merzario. Williams, 1:14.41 ; 20-Alan Jones. Surtees. 1:14.60; 21Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Tyrrell , 1:14.6S; 22-Harald Ertl. Hesketh , 1:IS.26; 23 -Emerson Fittipaldi . Fittipaldi, 1:IS.30; 24-Noritake Takahara . Surtees .l:lS.77; 25-Hans Binder, Williams. 1:17.36; 26Tony Trimmer . Maki , 1:30.91. RESULTS I -Andretti , 73 laps or 195.056 miles in 1:43:58.86 for an average speed of 114.079mph: 2-Depailler. 72 ; 3· Hunt , 72; 4Jones. 72; 5-Regazzoni , 72: 6-Nilsson. 72; 7-Lafitte. 72: 8-Ertl. 72: 9-Takahara . 70; 10-Jarier. 6S: II-Hasemi. 66. DNF: S che ckter, 58. engine: Binder. 49, whee l bearing; Pryce. 46 , engine; Brambilla . 38. engine; Stuck, 37, electrics: Mass , 35, crash : Watson . 33 , engine; Hoshino. 27. tires; Merzario. 23. gear box : Fittipaldi. 9. conditions ; Pace , 7. conditions : Lauda. 2. conditions; Perkins, I , conditions ; Peterson, 0, engine.

contact with him. " I'm not going to race," he said in a very small, slow voice, " I can't. I'm going to just drive around. " Then he leaned his head back as far as the crash structure behind it would allow and shut his eyes. At three o'clock, the time that had finally been selected as the start- it was 1.5 hours past the original time, and but 2.5 before darkness-the mist was so thick on the main straight that visiblity was 200 yards. The officials announced a further delay of five minutes. Then incredibly, they got on with it. At the start, James made one of the best getaways of his career and with thick white spray balling up behind he outdragged Andretti off the line. Watson from the spot right behind made just as good a start, and the Penske was taking second place away as the spearhead of the pack splashed down into the tight first corner. Hunt was safe, his white McLaren nose cleaving clear air-the biggest part

The start saw Hunt get off to an unusually good start, with the Penske of John Watson and the lotus of Mario Andretti hot on his Hewland.

de spite tantalizing little intervals of seeming clearing. Everything balances out in life. Anyone who chokes with envy for a Grand Prix driver 's style of life ought to have been in the pits as James Hunt pulled his helmet on one more time. He had to step across to his car on a sort of plank bridge cons tructed by his thoughtful mechanics to "What's needed here, Mate, is a bit of vent ilation-" James sits still whilea crewman drills a few anti-fogging holes in the visor of Hunt's Bell Star, while Mclaren Pete Lyons Photos keep his feet out of the water on the godfather Teddy Mayer handles the team umbrella . ground. He had to settle down into a seat of its first lap safely accomplished. deceler ation. Looming up behind, the Hoshino and then a red Ferrari. But the Hunt was still in front all around the six Penske snatched it s wheels, and Watson wrong one, Regga's. Lauda, looming up wet despite an umbrella ·that had been covering it. He had to pause while a man turns of the lap, h is spray forcing Watson made th e insta nt decision to keep on vaguely in the spume, was well back and w ith a drill pierced ventilation holes in and everyone else to ease back several going straight down the escape road. So dropping farther back. In fact, he was his visor. He had to run his gloved hands lengths. Into the fi rst corner the next time Andretti mov ed the JPS into second place. dropping back into the pits-Niki was over the wet steering wheel and ignore round, from stra ightaway speed this Behind him in the ever increasing fog of getting out of his car! the dozens of camera lenses invading his time, the M23 went onto the brakes very wheel and wing churned water were He 'd Seen enough. He was quitting. "It's cockpit and try to be civil to the onlookers early but even so went into a nasty wobble Scheckter and Brambilla, then the al- just like murder to be racing out there. I'm who wanted to have some sort of last in a puddle halfway down the long ready astonishing Japanese Tyrrell of Continued On Next Page

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Kojima Crew Builds Spare Car's Monocoque From Scratch Overnight
The first Japan GP got a surprisingly strong entry of locals. Most interesting of them was the Kojima Engineering KE007, with which driver Masahiro Hoshino shook the establishment rigid on Friday morning by qualifying fourth fastest-a close fourth at that, behind Hunt, Lauda and Pace and ahead of Andretti. Everyone really lined the rails for the afternoon session to see if he could do it again-but what he did instead was plough off the outside of a fast curve (he wasn 't sure whether it was a suspension, a tire, or a "handling" failure) and bend his chassis on the barrier. The Kojima cr ewmen stripped the wreckage that afternoon and whisked the pieces down the r oad a few hundred yards fo r the speedway g ate to their shop. "No problem," they a s sured the anxiou s local press, radio and TV. " We have spare monocoque, be racing on Sunday." Well a prying European eye looked into the shop and saw that the "spare chassis" was on Friday evening a sheet of aluminum just being folded into a trough and clamped in the jig! All day Saturday the visitors kept running down the road and reporting progress with growing amazement. " I was just down there and they had the suspension hanging on it!" "Say, at lunch they were putting the instruments in!" On Sunday, freshly riveted, welded, painted, wired, plumbed, aligned and settled, the KE007-2 took its place on the grid and apart from two pit stops to change tires as conditions altered was driven reliably into last (11th) place. A fi ne effort. -Pete Lyons

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