Motor Racing: Mansell content with his efforts

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The Independent Online
NIGEL MANSELL was pleased despite his distant second place in the Budweiser Cleveland IndyCar Grand Prix on Sunday. 'I drove my rear end off,' the former world champion said after finishing 24 seconds behind the winner, Al Unser Jnr.

'I feel very satisfied. The team did a brilliant job for me. I know I drove as hard as I can and we were beaten by a better team, better car, better driver. And that's what the game is all about. We had reliability, so as I said, my second place today almost feels like a win.' the reigning IndyCar champion added.

Mansell survived two brushes with disaster in the race. The first incident occurred when he was about to lap his team-mate, Mario Andretti, who was trying to overtake slower traffic. They tangled. 'He just came straight across me,' Mansell said. 'He should watch where he's going a bit more.'

Andretti retired, but Mansell's Lola appeared unscathed until, in the closing laps, the Briton brushed the wall with his left rear tyre. 'As long as you hit the wall square, you bounce off,' Mansell, returning to Indycar racing after last weekend's one-off return to Formula One, said.

After the Cleveland race, IndyCar officials signed a new four-year contract with the organisers to keep the Australian Grand Prix, the only race in the series staged outside North America, on Queensland's Gold Coast until at least 1998.

The agreement ended months of speculation over the future of the race, which has lost an estimated Adollars 50m ( pounds 24m) since its introduction in 1991.

'The new contract, together with the guarantee from the Queensland government, has ensured the IndyCar race will be held on the Gold Coast each year until at least 1998,' Ron Richards, the chairman of Gold Coast Motor Events, said in a statement.

Although this year's race in March attracted a record 243,000 spectators, the event lost an estimated Adollars 10 million. The scale of the deficit, paid for by Queensland taxpayers, prompted speculation the race would not return to Surfers Paradise next year. Before agreeing to foot the bill in future years, the Queensland government sought an assurance on the race's long-term future.

CLEVELAND INDYCAR GRAND PRIX (85 laps; 201.4 miles): 1 Al Unser Jnr (US) Penske-Ilmor 85 laps (ave speed 138.026mph); 2 N Mansell (GB) Lola-Ford Cosworth 85; 3 P Tracy (Can) Penske- Ilmor 85; 4 J Villeneuve (Can) Reynard-Ford Cosworth 85; 5 S Johansson (Swe) Penske-Ilmor 84; 6 R Boesel (Bra) Lola-Ford Cosworth 84. Drivers' standings: 1 Unser 127pts; 2 Fittipaldi 86; 3 Mansell 72.