Motor Racing: Mansell outfoxed by Fittipaldi: Brazilian makes most of Briton's mistake

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The Independent Online
A MISCUE early in the race and a delayed pit-stop deprived Nigel Mansell of his third IndyCar win in the Budweiser GI Joe's 200 here yesterday when the Briton finished in second place.

After much controversy over the rolling starts, a clean getaway at the green flag left Mansell in the lead at the first corner.

Less than a second separated Mansell and Emerson Fittipaldi until lap 20 when the Brazilian's attempts to pass began. The two world champions put on a display of the style of racing that draws audiences to the IndyCar series, dicing in the turns, wheel-to-wheel and nose-to-gearbox through slower traffic.

Fittipaldi pressured Mansell into making a mistake, dropping him back to fourth. Stefan Johansson, who had maintained third position from the grid, drove into the pits, allowing Mansell to move into third. A strong run all weekend by Johansson was ended with a broken transmission.

The complexion of the race changed on lap 40 when the blackening skies made good their threats to rain on the parade. Mansell took a chance staying out on slick tyres while the other leaders pitted for rain tyres. Finally, with the rain coming down in earnest and with everyone on grooved rain tyres, the order remained unchanged with Mansell in third position.

Standing water and spray coming off the rear tyres did not discourage Mansell from pressuring Paul Tracy for a pass.

With 30 laps to go, weather became a factor. The choice: to stop or not to stop for fuel and take a chance on the tyres. Mansell made the right call, taking on slicks, which gave him an advantage over Tracy.

A full-course caution ending with six laps remaining in the race gave Mansell another chance. But time ran out and he had to settle for second, scoring enough points to retain the lead in the championship race.

INDYCAR WORLD SERIES: Budweiser GI Joe's 200 (Portland, Oregon) Leading positions (US unless stated): 1 E Fittipaldi (Bra) Penske-Chevrolet; 2 N Mansell (GB) Lola-Ford Cosworth; 3 P Tracy (Can) Penske-Chevrolet; 4 B Rahal Lola- Chevrolet; 5 Al Unser Jr Lola-Chevrolet.