Motor Racing: Unser makes it three in a row

Click to follow
AL UNSER Jnr, the IndyCar championship leader, won his third straight race, holding off team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi to take the rain-shortened Milwaukee 200 here yesterday.

The race was stopped after 192 of the 200 scheduled laps around the one mile (1.6km) oval. Unser took the lead after an exchange of pit stops 37 laps into the race and kept ahead of the Brazilian driver to the finish. Unser won the Indianapolis 500 and the Long Beach Grand Prix. No driver has put together such a string since 1991, when Michael Andretti won three successive races.

Unser took another step towards taking the title from Nigel Mansell, who was fifth. Unser's victory gives 79 points, 25 ahead of the second-place Fittipaldi and 30 ahead of third-place Andretti. Roger Penske's race team swept the first three places, with the Canadian Paul Tracy third. He joined Unser and Fitipaldi for a three-abreast victory lap that showed Penske's dominance, even without the Mercedes engine used to win at Indianapolis. Ilmor power was used here.

Tracy grabbed the lead from Raul Boesel on pole at the start and kept it until Fittipaldi caught him. Unser took charge after the first pit stops, and the Penske drivers allowed no other car to lead a single lap.

'It's fantastic,' Fittipaldi said. 'One-two-three. What else do you need? I have never been with a group like this.'

The only car not running at the finish belonged to Sweden's Stefan Johansson, whose engine burned out with 35 laps remaining. Cars resumed full-speed racing with 22 laps to go, with Unser denying Fittipaldi a chance to build up speed on the restart. Two laps later, the rain came and the final 12 laps were completed at low speed, dropping Unser's average speed to 118.804mph.

'It seemed like every other lap there was a red car passing me,' Andretti said. 'My hat is off to them. The Penskes were great.'

Mansell, who is understood to have told Newman-Haas that he will finish the season with them and not move back to Formula One, fought hard to keep fourth place before losing it to Andretti in the late restart.

The first half of the race flew past without incident. From the start the race belonged to the Penske cars, which raced through the field as though they were not there. Mansell won here last year, but changes in the rules to reduce downforce by restricting rear wings has complicated the job of finding the right set-up for Mansell and the Newman-Haas team. Grip was the problem.

Lap 39 saw Mansell begin his move on the field. The British driver put in quick laps against all except the Penske cars. When Mansell began his charge he did not seem to mind the inside or outside line.

The British driver Steve Robertson held off a late challenge from team-mate Eddie Lawson to win the Firestone Indy Lights Championship - a support event for the Milwaukee Mile. Andre Ribeiro, of Brazil, the third Tasman Motorsports entry, spun and hit the wall on the first lap, giving up the lead to Lawson. Robertson took the lead on the eighth lap and stayed in front the rest of the 75- lap event. It was Robertson's fifth career victory and second in a row.

MILWAUKEE 200 INDYCAR RACE (Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, Milwaukee): 1 A Unser Jnr (Penske-Ilmor); 2 E Fittipaldi (Penske-Ilmor); 3 P Tracy (Penske-Ilmor) +2 laps; 4 Michael Andretti (Reynard-Ford) +3; 5 N Mansell (Lola-Ford) +3; 6 R Gordon (Lola-Ford) +3. Championship standings: 1 Unser 79pts; 2 Fittipaldi 54; 3 Andretti 49; 4 Mansell 45.