Canadian Gilles Villeneuve and South Africa's Jody Scheckter drove their Ferraris to first and second positions in Thursday's (24 May) opening practice for Sunday's (27 May) Monaco Grand Prix.
GV Drivers with racing cars in pits in Monte Carlo
SV AND GV PAN Exterior FROM crowd TO car on practice lap
SV PAN Mechanic working on Saudia Williams' car
SV PULL BACK TO GV Car Number 9 driven by Hans Stuck being checked before test lap
SV Niki Lauda in conversation with team official
SV Jody Scheckter talking to race official
SCU Jackie Stewart
SV Bare-chested racing driver walking through pits
SV TILT UP FROM accelerator pedals of car TO Jacques Laffite seated in Ligier
SV'S Engine stripped down to show working parts (2 shots)
SV Car number 24 driven by Gianfranco Brancatelli leaving pits and going onto race track.
GV 'ATS' Car No. 9 around track on lap test
Tracking shots cars practising around circuit (six shots)
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
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Background: Canadian Gilles Villeneuve and South Africa's Jody Scheckter drove their Ferraris to first and second positions in Thursday's (24 May) opening practice for Sunday's (27 May) Monaco Grand Prix. Former world champion Niki Lauda was third best in practice, and the first six drivers were all inside the lap record set by Lauda in last year's race.
SYNOPSIS: The Monaco Grand Prix is unusual in that it takes place on a twisting two-miles (three point three kilometres) of public roads. Arab finance backs Saudia Williams whose veteran driver Clay Regazzoni was fourth fastest in the opening practice.
Perfect mechanical preparation is vital for the tight Monaco circuit which was last modified for the 1973 race. Twice winner Niki Lauda drove superbly to finish second last year after a long pit stop.
Jody Scheckter is joint leader in the 1979 world championship and was ahead in practice until carburettor problems gave team-mate Gilles Villeneuve the chance to draw ahead in the closing minutes.
Scheckter shares the championship lead with Jacques Laffite in Ligier. Laffite's second place at the last Grand Prix in Belgium followed a lean spell after the Frenchman won both the opening South American Grand Prix.
ATS driver Hans Stuck was well pleased with his eighth place in Belgium and his car is lighter for the race at Monaco. Practice times for the race are very crucial. The winner usually comes from the front rank because there are so few places for overtaking on the circuit.
The opening day's practice session makes the Ferraris of villeneuve and Scheckter favourites in win, especially as Scheckter has already won in 1977. But the Ligier team cannot discounted because their driver Patrick Depailler is seeking to repeat his memorable victory of last year.