INTRODUCTION An official inquiry is underway in South Africa into Saturday's death crash during the Formula One Grand Prix, when Welsh racing driver Tom Pryce and a 19-year-old local fire marshal died.
INTRODUCTION An official inquiry is underway in South Africa into Saturday's death crash during the Formula One Grand Prix, when Welsh racing driver Tom Pryce and a 19-year-old local fire marshal died. The race was later won by Austria's Niki Lauda. It was the second tragedy in three years at the Kyalami circuit-a United State s racing driver died there during practice for the 1974 Grand Prix.
SYNOPSIS: Saturday's race started under overcast skies, and all the teams were ready with wet-weather tyres in case of rain. World Champion James Hunt of Britain got off to a good start, and was leading Austria's Niki Lauda at the end of the first two laps.
On the sixth lap however, Lauda overtook Hunt and by the 12th lap held a commanding lead over Hunt. Then tragedy struck when Pryce hit and killed a young South African fire marshal who was running across the main straight towards a burning car.
As the marshal was tossed into the air by the impact, his fire extinguisher struck Pryce on the head. With no control over his car, Pryce sped down the track for well over 500 yards (metres) before crashing into a concrete and earth bank at the bottom of the straight. Both Pryce and the marshal were believed to have died instantly.
Twenty-seven-year-old Pryce was an experienced driver with 41 Grand Prix races to his credit. He clocked the fastest time in the first practice session for the race.
Austria's Niki Lauda went on to win the race, his first victory since his crash in the West German Grand Prix last August. The only driver who came close to him was local here Jody Scheckter, who finished second, just ahead of France's Patrick Depailler. But for Lauda it was a hollow victory. After the race, a track official spoke to newsmen about the accident.