The final Grand prix in the World Motor-Racing Championships in Japan on Sunday (October 23) was taking place without Nikki Lauda of Austria, the number on driver for the Italian Ferrari team, who is leaving it to join Brabham next year.
LV Mount Fujiyama, near Tokyo, Japan. PULL BACK TO buildings outside motor-racing track.
GVs Flags and entrance to track. (2 shots)
GV AND GV PAN Track (2 shots)
SVs Canadian Wolf racing team pits and car (3 shots)
SVs Tyrrell pits and mechanics working on car (4 shots)
CU AND SVs 1976 World Champion James Hunt in pits with McLaren car and mechanics. (3 shots)
SVs John Player Lotus pits and car. (4 shots)
SVs Ferrari pits, car and mechanics. (4 shots)
CUs Mario Andretti of USA talking to colleagues.
Initials VS 18.50
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Background: The final Grand prix in the World Motor-Racing Championships in Japan on Sunday (October 23) was taking place without Nikki Lauda of Austria, the number on driver for the Italian Ferrari team, who is leaving it to join Brabham next year. Lauda already assured of this year's championship in the points table, withdrew from the race on doctor's orders. He has been suffering from a stomach complaint.
SYNOPSIS: The Japanese Grand Prix, held in the shadow of Mount Fujiyama, was also the scene of last year's final race in the world series. Then, British driver James Hunt in a McLaren beat Lauda for the title in a points battle all the way to the end.
This year, although Lauda already has the title, the race itself was almost anybody's, according to the experts, The Canadian Wolf team, with Jody Scheckter of South Africa lying second in the points table, was one of the favourites.
The two-car Elf-Tyrrell team, with Ronnie Peterson of Sweden and Patrick Depailler of France, was competing against another Tyrrell -- entered by a Japanese team.
Reigning World Champion James Hunt was also being tipped as a favourite to win the race - despite his poor season. He was lying a low fifth in the points table, with 31 against Lauda's 72. But the main cause of his troubles - a faulty new McLaren - was apparently cured.
The Lotus ford of the John Players Special team, driven to victory four times this year by Mario Andretti of the United States, was lying second in the manufacturers' championships table.
Ferrari, however, like their driver, were n an unbeatable position. They had 89 points in the maker's table, against the Lotus' 62. In Lauda's absence, Ferrari's two entries for the Japanese Grand Prix were being handled by regular driver Carlos Regular driver Carlos Reutemann of Argentina, and Gilles Villeneuve of Canada.
Mario Andretti, meanwhile, was another favourite. He was lying third in the points table, but still close enough to second man Jody Scheckter to be able to overtake him with an outright win if the South African was unplaced.