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Australian Grand Prix : Berger Drives Off With Second Straight Victory

November 16, 1987| Associated Press

ADELAIDE, Australia — Gerhard Berger of Austria, competing despite a bad virus, led virtually the entire way in winning Sunday's Australian Grand Prix for his second straight victory.

Berger, winner of the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago, became the first Ferrari driver to win consecutive Grand Prix races since the late Gilles Villeneuve of Canada achieved the feat in 1981 by winning in Monaco and Spain.

Berger, who started from the pole, briefly lost the lead to world champion Nelson Piquet of Brazil, in a Williams-Honda, on the first lap but regained it almost immediately and never was headed again.

Berger completed the 82-lap, 192.498-mile circuit through the streets of Adelaide in 1 hour 52 minutes 56 seconds at an average speed of 102.26 m.p.h. He finished nearly 35 seconds ahead of Brazilian Ayrton Senna, in a Lotus-Honda.

Later, Senna was disqualified because of irregularities with his car's braking system. Italian Michele Alboreto, in the other Ferrari, was elevated from third place to second. Thierry Boutsen of Belgium, in a Benetton-Ford, was moved from fourth to third. Then came Jonathan Palmer of Britain in a Tyrrell, Yannick Dalmas of France in a Lola-Ford and Roberto Moreno of Brazil in an AGS-Ford.

Race organizers said Senna was disqualified "for a breach of the technical regulation of brake ducts."

Senna was not available for comment.

Berger's victory, cheered by a record crowd of 123,000, was the 93rd for Ferrari since the Formula One world championship began in 1950.

"This was my toughest race," Berger said after his third Grand Prix victory in 52 races.

"I had nothing to spare--I was driving on the limit all the way, and that wasn't easy in the high temperatures.

"Adelaide is a very tiring circuit that requires many gear changes. I heard some funny noises from the engine during the last few laps but the car was OK."

Alboreto also said it was a difficult race.

"I had problems with my brakes in the last 20 laps," he said. "I had to push very hard to try and stay with the leaders and used up most of my brakes."

Berger drove with confidence, showing no ill effects of a week-long battle to conquer a severe head cold.

Only 8 of the 26 starters still were running at the end of the race. Two-time world champion Alain Prost of France, in a McLaren, went out on lap 53 when he slid into a barrier. Piquet's race ended on lap 58 with a broken gear shift.

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