Motor Racing: Mansell's antidote to '500-mile headache': Briton regains the championship lead with stunning oval-track victory

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The Independent Online
NIGEL MANSELL, Il Leone, raced with the courage of a lion and nerves of steel to win his first 500-mile race on a superspeedway oval here yesterday.

On the severly bumpy Michigan track which Mansell's team- mate, Mario Andretti, described as a '500-mile headache' Mansell's team actually administered aspirin to him during a pitstop.

Apparently suffering from heat exhaustion at the end of the race, Mansell needed some assistance before he could be lifted out of the cockpit. It took a few minutes for him to gather himself together before saying: 'This is a great tribute to the Newman-Haas team. Just like Indy I've never done anything like this in my life. I don't mind telling the world, I'm tired]'

At the beginning of the 250- lap race Andretti began by pulling out a lead on Mansell until lap 29 when Mansell caught and passed his team-mate. By lap 99 Mansell passed Andretti, driving in third place, putting the American one lap behind. Mansell then passed the second- placed Raul Boesel and with him the entire field.

Andretti twice fought back to get on to the same lap as Mansell. But even a late-race full course caution did not give Andretti the opportunity he needed to pass again for a win. On the first series of pit stops Andretti treated everyone to a fine display of stunt driving as he spun trying to get out of the pits and found himself pointing the wrong way. Those extra seconds in the pits may have cost him the race.

It was a Lola-Ford day all the way with the first four places occupied by that combination. The Penske-Chevrolets of Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy both suffered mechanical problems that put Fittipaldi in the back of the pack and sidelined Tracy all together. The teams running Lola-Chevrolets continue to play catch-up from a late start in pre-season testing due to the late delivery of their Chevrolet-compatible chassis.

With one fifth of the race complete, Fittipaldi had moved up from his 15th-place starting position to fourth. But mechanical troubles began to trouble the Brazilian who fell 10 laps behind after numerous visits to the pits for repairs on a handling problem. Fittipaldi's eventual 13th- place finish, just out of the points, put Mansell back in the overall championship lead with 123 points, 18 points ahead of the Brazilian.

MARLBORO INDYCAR 500 (Michigan International Speedway) 1 N Mansell (GB) Lola Ford- Cosworth 2hr 39min 24.131sec; 2 M Andretti (US) 1993 Lola Ford-Cosworth 2:39:33.564; 3 A Luyendyk (Neth) Lola Ford-Cosworth 1 lap behind; 4 R Boesel (Bra) Lola Ford-Cosworth, 2 laps; 5 S Goodyear (US) Lola Ford-Cosworth, 3 laps; 6 T Fabi (It) Lola Chevrolet C, 4 laps. Overall PPG Cup points: 1 Mansell 123pts; 2 E Fittipaldi (Bra) 105; 3 Boesel 98; 4 Andretti 97; 5 P Tracy (Can) 83; 6 B Rahal (US) 74.