With the 1977 motor racing season well under way South African Jody Scheckter has a commanding lead of 32 points in the Drivers' World Championships after six Grand Prix races.
With the 1977 motor racing season well under way South African Jody Scheckter has a commanding lead of 32 points in the Drivers' World Championships after six Grand Prix races. But he will have his work cut out to maintain his position in the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder on Sunday (5 June). Rival Niki Lauda will be chasing him for points in his Ferrari -- and the driver holding fourth place on the championship table, Mario Andretti of the United States returned the fastest time in Friday's (3 June) official practice.
SYNOPSIS: The practice session started in a downpour, with participants taking shelter as best they could. Last year's winner, Austrian Niki Lauda, is currently in second place in the drivers' championships and will undoubtedly be pulling out the stops to repeat his success. Fresh from his win in the Monaco Grand Prix, Jody Scheckter is driving his Wolf-Ford brilliantly this year -- and another consistent performer is Ronnie Petersen in an Elf-Tyrrell.
Lauda leaving the pits on his way out to practise. Once on the circuit the drivers had to contend with a course made dangerously slippery by the rain -- and lap times were well down on Launda's 1976 fastest time of one minute, 25.98 seconds.
Frenchman PATRICK Depailler getting to grips with the situation in his Elf-Tyrell.
During the two days of practice 32 drivers are competing against each other for 26 places in the race. During the race itself they will have to cover 70 laps of the elongated double "S" shaped circuit -- a total distance of 298.34 kilometres (185.38 miles).
Despite the weather Andretti clocked one minute, 26.95 seconds. John Watson of Britain returned the second best time in his Martini Brabham Alfa and the reigning World Champion, James Hunt, also from Britain was third fastest in his Marlboro McLaren.