James Hunt of Britain won the Japan Grand Prix today, but the 17th and final leg of the world Formula One championship series was marred by two accidents, one of which killed a photographer and a security guard and injured 10 other.
Hunt, of Great Britain, driving a McLaren, completed the 73 laps around the 2 1/2-mile Fuji International Speedway circuit in 1 hour 31 minutes 51.68 seconds for an average speed of 129 miles per hour.
Carlos Reutemann of Argentina, in a Ferrari, was second and Patrick Depailler of France was third in a Tyrello.
Hunt the 1976 woeld champion, led the race throughout followed for part of it by Jody Scheckter of South Africa in a Wolf and Jacques Laffite of France in a Ligier.
Scheckter, however, had to make several pit stops and dropped to 10th while Laffite came in fifth.
Ten minutes into the race, in the seventh lap, Gilles Villeneuve of Canada crashed his Ferrari into the rear of Swede Ron Peterson's Tyrrell, sending Villeneuve's car flying into the air, and into a crowd of spectators sitting on the grass between the guard rail and spectator fence.
A guard, Kengo Yuasa, 21, was trying to clear the crowd away just before the crash. The guard and a photographer, Kazuhiro Ohashi, 25, were killed, and 10 spectators were injured, seven seriously. The drivers were unharmed.
Mario Andretti of Nazareth, Pa., winner of four Grand Prix races this season and in the pole position today after clocking the fastest time in the trials, was out of the race after the first lap when his car bumped into Laffitte's and lost its steering.
"I messed up the start and then Laffite got into me and broke my steering arm," he said. "I was on the outside and he drove over my right front wheel.
"It's a disappointing finish but maybe I got some of theat bad luck behind me," said the American, who won last year's Japan Grand Prix.
Hunt said, "The only danger was myself and my car. Anything going wrong would have been a mistake from me."
He said, however, his right front tire began to blister early in the race, causing a lot of vibration in the car.
"It kept me out of balance. It was hard to hold on to (the car) and blisters your hands, but I didn't feel much." he said.
About 76,000 spectators turned out for the race in fine, clear weather near the foot of Japan's famed Mount Fuji.
Spirits were considerably dampened by the deaths, the first spectator casualties at a Japanese auto race and no news conference was held by the winners.
The race also was an anticlimatic end to the season because the world drivers' championship already had been clinched by Niki Lauda of Austria for Ferrari after the U.S. Grand Prix.