The Newman-Haas team had a rewarding experience with Michael Andretti's consecutive victories in 1991 and 1992 on the 1.73-mile temporary street circuit and the team have the set- ups that have worked here before. The engineer, Peter Gibbons, knows Mansell's preferences and driving style, so he can adjust the set-ups for him even before the first session. Thus Mansell can begin the weekend with confidence in the car.
At the most recent temporary street course in Toronto, Lola had made some changes to the car. Neither Mansell nor his team-mate, Mario Andretti, were able to come to terms with the car, and they qualified eighth and ninth. Mansell's race mercifully ended prematurely with a wastegate fire. The disaster in Toronto is not likely to be repeated in Vancouver.
Even though Paul Tracy is third in the PPG Cup standings, he is a mere seven points behind the second-placed Emerson Fittipaldi. While the elder Penske driver seems to have faltered since the brilliant weel-to-wheel contest he enjoyed with Mansell in Cleveland, Tracy's charge toward the championship has been gaining momentum.
Last year Tracy crashed here. Now, with tutelage in racecraft from a master - the Penske team advisor, Rick Mears, who has 29 career IndyCar wins, three championships and four Indy 500 victories - Tracy is still quick and brave, but he is also a lot smarter. All of this said, it would be unwise to count Fittipaldi out of the match.
In the first official qualifying session, Mansell had his work cut out in keeping up with the pace set by Tracy as he acquainted himself with the 1.73- mile track. It was very much a learning exercise.
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