Motor Racing: Mansell manages third after miscues

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The Independent Online
NIGEL MANSELL survived a series of miscues to take third place here yesterday in a race that witnessed some of the most violent accidents seen in IndyCar in many years.

During the race, Mansell slipped back as far as 12th position and two laps down. But a determined drive in spite of the setbacks rewarded Red Five with a place on the podium.

It all made for what Mansell described as a very strange race. This second event of the 1994 PPG IndyCar World Championship turned out to be as strange as the first event in Surfers Paradise that was delayed for a record two and a half hours and stopped early for darkness.

Emerson Fittipaldi, one of the few drivers who managed to avoid flying tires and gearboxes here, took the win in his Penske/Ilmor, clocking his fastest lap with less than 20 laps to go. The Brazilian was followed home by his team-mate Al Unser Jr.

Mansell's first miscue came when he stalled the engine leaving the pits under yellow. The gaff cost him 10 positions and put him two laps down. As Mansell plotted to recover the lost lap and regain his position, the whole game changed with a violent crash involving five cars in which, miraculously, there were no serious injuries.

Exhibiting his customary lack of racecraft, Hiro Matsushita precipitated the incident that put Teo Fabi into the wall and left Matsushita's disabled car strewn across the track for a broadside by the unlucky Jacques Villenueve.

Braking heavily, Tracy got through the mess but when Villeneuve tried to avoid cars slowing in front of him the move put him in a direct line with Matsushita. The impact severed Matsushita's Lola and sliced the front and the engine off Villeneuve's Reynard. A flying transmission hit Tracy, who must have thought he was already safely by. Mansell reported that a gearbox flew directly over his head.

The incident rearranged the race status dramatically. Mansell was still a lap down, but he was now in fifth position, right behind Fittipaldi. Handling traffic when racing resumed, Mansell took advantage when Fittipaldi got boxed in and passed him. Now back on the lead lap, Mansell made another pitstop.

Trying to avoid another stall, Mansell overcooked his exit and made a heartstopping re-entry to the track. Some very fine driving and a good measure of luck kept the Canadian Scott Goodyear from taking out Mansell. A series of pit stops from the leaders helped Mansell regain third position, but still one lap down.

Under another yellow flag, when an airborne tyre from Mario Andretti's collision with the wall took out his son Michael Andretti, Mansell was able to move back up for another chance at getting back on the lead lap. In the final laps of the race Mansell was faster than Unser Jr in second place but he could make no further gains before the chequered flag.