Motor Racing: Champion driven on by records

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The Independent Online
THE historic Laguna Seca Raceway is the perfect venue for the last race of the 1993 PPG IndyCar World Series, writes Toni Toomey from Monterey, California. Nigel Mansell was in the top five in most of yesterday's morning practice though Paul Tracy, of Canada, dominated the time sheets after struggling to find grip earlier in the session. In the last few minutes of practice Mansell moved up to second place behind behind Tracy.

Located a few hours' drive from San Francisco on the California Monterey Peninsula - playground for the so-rich-they-don't- need-to-be-famous - Laguna Seca is the perfect location for the festive mood of the IndyCar family at this season's finale.

Nigel Mansell and the Newman- Haas team will enjoy the weekend all the more because the PPG Cup is in their possession. The first rookie champion in the 82-year history of IndyCars, Mansell can break some of his own records here and establish others. His five wins are the most by a rookie and he is tied with Teo Fabi for the most pole positions by a rookie: seven.

He is the first driver to win the Formula One world championship and the PPG Cup in consecutive years. The week before the Formula One race at Monza, Mansell was the only man to hold both titles concurrently.

Passing is difficult on the 11-turn natural terrain course, and the last five races here have been won by the pole sitter. Even though the rival Penske-Chevrolet has the advantage on a combination of fast and slow corners, five of Mansell's pole positions in the Lola-Ford have been on road circuits.

Mario Andretti whose contract with Newman-Haas expires on Sunday announced yesterday that he has signed a new contract to drive for 1994. Mansell and Andretti share the distinction of being two of only three men who have won both the Formula One and the PPG Indycar world series championship, Fittipaldi being the third.