Racing drive Mario Andretti, of the United States, on Friday (21 October) broke his own course record while practising for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Racing drive Mario Andretti, of the United States, on Friday (21 October) broke his own course record while practising for the Japanese Grand Prix. Andretti clocked 1 minute 12.23 seconds, clipping almost half a second from his previous record, set last year. James Hunt of Britain also broke the old record during a practice run with a time of 1 minute 12.39 seconds.
SYNOPSIS: A circuit of the Fuji speedway course, near the foot of Mount Fuji, covers 4.35 kilometres (about 2.74 miles).
Jody Scheckter of South Africa with his Wolf Ford. Scheckter, second in the drivers' world championship, craves a win here. Reigning world champion James Hunt has already lost his title to Austria's Niki Lauda, who is not competing at Fuji. A win could lift Hunt into fourth championship place.
Andretti won here last year in his John Player Special and must be the man to beat after his brilliant season in 1977. By contrast, Clay Regazzoni of Switzerland has had a wretched year. Hunt has fine memories of the Fuji circuit because it was here, a year ago, that his third placing on a rain-slicked surface clinched his first world title. He knows he can handle the track in any conditions.
This is Ferrari's top car, but without Lauda at the wheel. Since this is the season's final Grand Prix, he has actively finished his triumphant association with the Italian firm, from which he resigned earlier in the year.
Here is Andretti taking a bend during his record-breaking run, and Hunt also on his way to busting the old record in his McLaren Ford. Drivers like the Fuji circuit. Andretti says it poses no unusual problems and experts and predicting very fast times if the track is not slippery as it was during last year's heavy rain and mist. A major problems is that the coarse surfacing tends to wear out tyres quickly. Many drivers had tyre worries last year.
With the driver's championship already won, this Japanese Grand Prix will not have the overall competitive edge of last year -- but it should be close.