Prost Comes Back, Beats Senna

From Staff and Wire Reports

Frenchman Alain Prost returned from a yearlong sabbatical in top form Sunday, winning convincingly in the pouring rain at the South African Grand Prix at Johannesburg, the opening race on the 1993 Formula One circuit.

Prost, who sat out last season after being fired by Ferrari, started on the pole but was passed by archrival Ayrton Senna in the first corner of the race, which was finished by only five of the 26 starters.

But Prost, now driving a new Williams Renault FW15, passed Senna on an S-curve in Lap 24 and never trailed again in the 72-lap race on the 2.64-mile Kyalami track north of Johannesburg.

"It was a difficult race. I made a bad start," Prost, a three-time Formula One champion, said. "It was difficult to find the clutch . . . and I almost stalled the engine."

Prost lapped everyone in the field except Senna, who finished 1 minute 19.824 seconds behind in his new McLaren MP4-8. Prost received 10 points for his first-place finish, and Senna gained six.

Briton Mark Blundell in a Ligier was third, Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi was fourth in his Minardi, and J.J. Lehto of Finland was fifth in his Sauber, a new car conceived by Mercedes-Benz.

American Michael Andretti, starting his first Formula One event in the ninth position on the grid, had bad luck. His McLaren stalled at the start of the race. He managed to get it started but pulled off in the fifth lap.

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