Motor Racing: Mansell forced to drop out

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The Independent Online
NIGEL MANSELL watched his IndyCar points lead vanish in a cloud of smoke from an engine fire in the Toronto IndyCar race yesterday. Mansell and his Newman/Haas team never found a good balance or adequate grip on the 1.78-mile 11-turn course that has a combination of some very quick, and some very slow turns.

Once again it was the Marlboro Team Penske duo of Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy who dominated the circuit. The two swapped the lead three times during the race with Tracy, the rapidly maturing young Canadian, starting and ending the race in first place.

The field got off to a clean start but by the end of the first lap Mansell had dropped from 9th to 14th. Some early full-course cautions gave Mansell a chance to practise his restart but still 'chasing the set-up' on his car he was unable to capitalise on the opportunity to gain position.

While Mansell tried valiantly to maintain a points-winning position, a battle carried on at the front between the two Penskes. Close behind them three of the top American Indycar drivers, Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jnr, who have been eclipsed all season by imported driving talent, were finally back at the front racing wheel to wheel in the fierce but sportsmanlike competition that has attracted so many European drivers to the IndyCar series.

'People forget the most important thing,' Mansell said. 'I've never been here before.

'I might be a genius but if you don't know the track and you don't know how to set the car up because you have no history at the circuit I'm afraid you're way behind on everything.'

Mansell, who struggled in the middle of the field all weekend, added: 'We never got a handle on the car. It has been a very disappointing weekend. We had a fundamental problem with the set-up on my car and on Mario's car.

'In the race we were running eighth and ninth and could have made some points. This is our first mechanical failure so that's not too bad.'

TORONTO INDYCAR RACE Leading positions (US unless stated): 1 P Tracy (Can) Penske-Chevy 1hr 53min 58.951sec; 2 E Fittipaldi (Bra) Penske-Chevy +13.023sec; 3 D Sullivan Lola-Chevy +14.199; 4 B Rahal Lola-Chevy +14.793; 5 A Unser Jnr Lola-Chevy +15.273; 6 R Gordon Lola-Ford +46.799; 7 R Boesel (Bra) Lola-Ford +47.145; 8 M Andretti Lola-Ford one lap behind; 9 S Goodyear (Can) Lola-Ford one lap behind; 10 R Guerrero Lola-Chevy one lap behind. Did not finish: N Mansell (GB) Lola Ford Cosworth. Leading championship standings: 1 Fittipaldi 105pts; 2 N Mansell (GB) 102; 3 Boesel 84; 4 Tracy 83, 5 M Andretti 80; Rahal 70.

Brands Hatch could become only the second circuit in more than 10 years to host an IndyCar championship race outside North America. IndyCar officials said in Toronto yesterday that the owners of the circuit had approached IndyCar's organising body about hosting an Indy race as early as 1994.