Motor Racing: Mansell enters new territory

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The Independent Online
AFTER passing his rookie orientation test on Wednesday, Nigel Mansell yesterday recorded the fourth fastest time of the day with a speed of 222.855mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mansell, who was given the all clear to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on 30 May after undergoing surgery on his back, said he was not frightened about the prospects of qualifying for the race. 'You have to treat this place with the utmost respect,' he said. 'It is the fastest race circuit in the world.

'I've never entered corners at these speeds before. The fastest corners in Formula One are maybe 190mph. So I was very happy to go through the 220mph barrier.

'The place is frankly just awesome. I learnt all about dirty air (turbulence) in that run. Now, I must say, I am full of respect for the speedway.'

He is now preparing for qualifying tomorrow when he will become the first reigning Formula One world champion to take part in the Indianapolis 500 since Denny Hulme in 1968. Hulme qualified 20th and finished fourth. Mansell, however, is hoping to do better.

'I approached my first day with the goal of just getting the rookie test done as quickly as possible,' he said. 'I think the car is better than I anticipated it to be.

'I am absolutely thrilled and a little surprised. I would be happy to qualify at the speed we did today. Now I have to learn how to qualify by simulating a four-lap run to learn all about the procedure. I want to try and qualify in the top 15. I am aiming to finish in the top six.'