Jean-Pierre Jabouille in a Renault looked set to maintain France's domination of the 1979 Formula One motor racing season when he recorded fastest time in the first of two official practice sessions for the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.
GV Pits -- Turbo Renault in foreground
GV PAN French Ligier team
CU Patrick Depailler (France, Ligier)
GV Ferrari No. 12 (Gilles Villeneuve, Canada)
SV James Hunt, John Watson and Teddy Mayer
CU Clay Regazzoni ZOOM OUT TO Saudi Williams car
CU Jody Scheckter (South Africa, Ferrari)
CU Mario Andretti (World Champion in Lotus-Martini)
GV PAN Car No.12 (Villeneuve, Ferrari -- fastest in unofficial practice)
GV Renault (driver Jean Pierre Jabouille) catches fire
TRAVELLING SHOT World championship leader driving Ligier round Kyalami circuit
GV Cars continue practice
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
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Background: Jean-Pierre Jabouille in a Renault looked set to maintain France's domination of the 1979 Formula One motor racing season when he recorded fastest time in the first of two official practice sessions for the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. It was a good come-back from the previous day's ill fortune when his engine blew up in unofficial practice.
SYNOPSIS: The Turbo Renault was to make a Phoenix-like come-back while the French Ligier team was to falter in the first official practice. Jacques Laffite has won the firs two Grand Prix events but managed only fifth fastest officially. Team-mate Patrick Depailler did worse with eighth.
Ferraris looked likely to crowd the front of the grid behind the Renault. Jody Scheckter of South Africa and Canada's Gilles Villeneuve were officially second and third fastest.
Clay Regazzoni of Switzerland in his Saudi-Williams starts well down the grid with a time nearly four seconds behind the fastest. Jody Scheckter on his home ground is among the brace of Ferrari drivers who are near the front of the grid on official time, while the defending World Champion Mario Andretti's Lotus could manage only fifth official fastest time.
But only seven seconds span the whole field's practice times, and in a day of unofficial testing Villeneuve's Ferrari was fastest. And if he stays on form the race could yet be his.
Jabouille's fastest official time came despite near disaster the day before.
Laffite's Ligier is not well suited to Kyalami. It took him to triumph in the first two Grand Prix events of the season in South America, but here he could manage only fifth best time. His manager is not confident of victory on Saturday (3 March) because, he says, the long straight on the course favours other cars.