Auto Racing Roundup : Mansell Beats Piquet, Retains Title Hopes

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Nigel Mansell of Britain kept alive his hopes of a Formula One world driving championship Sunday with a victory over Williams-Honda teammate Nelson Piquet of Brazil in the Grand Prix of Mexico at Mexico City.

An estimated crowd of 86,000 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez witnessed a strange finish, with Mansell actually crossing the finish line behind the second-place car of Piquet due to a scoring decision reached during a stoppage midway through the race. Officials put out the red flag after Englishman Derek Warwick crashed on lap 31, halting the action for nearly 30 minutes while the wrecked car and debris were removed. Warwick wasn’t injured.

All the remaining cars were allowed a tire change and, when the race was restarted, Mansell lost what was once a considerable lead to Piquet.


Race officials decided it would be unfair to take away Mansell’s big lead and scored the rest of the race by computer. That meant that when Piquet’s car moved ahead of Mansell’s on the restart, Mansell still held the lead.

Mansell earned nine points with his sixth victory and cut Piquet’s margin in the standings to 73-61 with two races remaining. Piquet, who earned six points for second, has 3 victories and 7 second-place finishes in 13 starts.

“I didn’t really like that the race was suspended,” Mansell said. “After the second start, Piquet nearly pushed me off the track twice, so I backed it off and just waited. I really didn’t like that.”

Piquet, following a string of expletives, said: “I am very professional. If I try to take somebody out, I do it. I didn’t try to take anybody out.”

There is considerable animosity between Mansell and two-time world champion Piquet--who has signed with the Lotus-Honda team for next season--on the British-based Williams team. In the Belgian Grand Prix early in the season, they tangled so violently that both their cars were knocked from the race.

On Sunday, Patrese placed his Brabham-BMW a distant third, followed on the lead lap by Cheever, the only American in the series, in an Arrows-Megatron. It was the second fourth-place finish this season for Cheever.


At Phoenix, Dick LaHaie, Mark Oswald and Bob Glidden swept to victory Sunday in the third annual National Hot Rod Assn. Castrol GTX Fallnationals at Firebird International Raceway.

LaHaie piloted his Miller American Racing dragster to a 5.269 second elapsed time and a 274.55 m.p.h. top speed in defeating Eddie Hill.

The win marked LaHaie’s fifth NHRA national event victory of the season, and it moved him up to within 162 points of Winston series points leader Joe Amato.