Emerson Fittipalsi, the 1972 World Motor-Racing Champion, won the Brazilian Grand Prix for the second year running in Sao Paulo on Sunday (27 January) before 120,000 of his countrymen.
Emerson Fittipalsi, the 1972 World Motor-Racing Champion, won the Brazilian Grand Prix for the second year running in Sao Paulo on Sunday (27 January) before 120,000 of his countrymen. His McLaron Ford was 13 seconds ahead of the Ferrair of Swiss driver Clay Regazzoni.
Heavy rain forced an early end to the race on the five-mile (eight-kilometre) Interlagos circuit as Fittipaldi and Regazzoni completed 32 of the scheduled 40 laps. Sunday's win puts the 27-year-old Brazilian in joint second place, with former team-mate Denny Halme of New Zealand for the drivers' World Championship. The current leader is Clay Regazzoni, who finished third in the opening Argentina Grand Prix.
For the first 15 laps, Fittipaldi was duelling for the lead with former team-mate Ronnie Paterson, driving a John Player Lotus-Ford. A puncture on the 18th lap put an end to Peterson's challenge, but he managed to take sixth place. Peterson's bad luck did not end with the puncture -- after the race, he was rushed to hospital suffering from low blood pressure and heat exhaustion.
Jacky Ickx of Belgium, in the second John Player Lotus-Ford, took third place, but the crowd gave a special reception to the man behind him, Brazilian Carols Place. The surprise of the race was France's novice formula one driver, Patrick Depallier, who passed Englishman James Hunt on the last lap to snatch sight place for the Blue Tyroll team which sponsored last year's World Champion, Scotland's Jackie Stewart.
Fittipaldi's win puts him only one point behind Championship leader Regazzoni, who heads the table with ten points after two Grand Prix races.