Motor Racing: Surgery delays test drive for Mansell

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NIGEL MANSELL, who underwent back surgery yesterday, has been given dispensation by the United States Auto Club to defer his mandatory rookie orientation programme for next month's Indianapolis 500.

Mansell's operation, involving the repair tissue damage resulting from his accident at Phoenix on 3 April, took place at the Morton Plant Hospital near his home in Florida. He is expected to take five or six days to recover and will miss this weekend's scheduled rookie test.

However, Johnny Capels, of the USAC, the sanctioning body for the Indianapolis 500, said: 'In recognition of Nigel's accomplished status in the racing world and in view of his recent demonstration of skill in IndyCar competition, USAC has deferred Nigel's test until he is pronounced fit for participation at the Speedway.'

For Mansell, whose first taste of IndyCar racing on oval tracks ended in an accident, the physical relief will be accompanied by the mounting pressure of attempting to succeed in qualifying for Indianapolis. 'I have been in considerable discomfort since Phoenix,' said Mansell, who leads the IndyCar World Series after winning his opening race in Surfers Paradise and finishing third in Long Beach 11 days ago.