Motor Racing: Rain greets Mansell

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The Independent Online
STORMS threatened to disrupt Nigel Mansell's IndyCar debut this weekend. The tail end of Cyclone Roger has whipped Australia's gold coast and this Queensland resort's street circuit with heavy rain and fierce winds, writes Derick Allsop from Surfer's Paradise.

Officials and weather buffs predict the worst will have passed before Sunday's race, the opening round of the IndyCar series, but the severe weather is persisting ominously close to tomorrow's first practice. It serves as an inhospitable welcome for Mansell, the Formula One world champion, to this new racing environment.

The organisers are concerned they will not be able to fill the grandstands, despite the Mansell hype and boasts of record worldwide television audiences.

The weather is putting something of a dampener on the race's publicity slogan: Heat on the Street. This is being built up as a showdown between Mansell and the defending IndyCar champion, Bobby Rahal.

In shops and bars, posters present it is as a heavyweight boxing contest: Mansell v Rahal, they proclaim. Mansell is the main attraction and potential spectators are urged to partake of a piece of sporting history: Mansell's first IndyCar race.