Mansell wins SA Grand Prix Masters
Great Britain’s Nigel Mansell edged out Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi by a fraction of a second to win the inaugural South African Grand Prix Masters at the Kyalami race track north of Johannesburg on Sunday.
Mansell was pushed all the way by his fellow former Formula 1 World Champion and crossed the line in a time of 50 minutes 55,154 seconds. Fittipaldi, who won the F1 Championship in 1972 and 1974, followed just 0,408 seconds later to put the cherry on top of a truly remarkable weekend of motorsport.
Italy’s Ricardo Patrese completed the podium when he was next past the chequered flag in 51 minutes 15,816 seconds. Countryman Andrea de Cesaris was fourth, followed by Britain’s Derek Warwick and Hans Stuck of Germany.
Mansell, the pre-race favourite, was clearly overjoyed at his success.
“What a race! What a race!” he said. “He [Fittipaldi] almost got me.”
“That was unbelievable,” added Mansell, “because every time I tried to pull away I just couldn’t get any traction around the corners so Emerson was always on my tail.”
Fittipaldi, who also won the Indycar Series in 1989 and 1993, was full of admiration for Mansell’s drive.
“Nigel made no mistakes. It was a fantastic display of driving.”
Patrese had three drivers breathing down his neck—De Cesaris, Warwick and Stuck were within three seconds of the third place man at the end.
“I had a lot of dogs biting behind me,” he said. “I was really happy with my drive and overall it was a great show. This was real racing.”
Sunday’s Grand Prix Masters race was the first to date and with more than 70 000 fans in attendance will in all likelihood be considered a rousing success.
While Mansell and Fittipaldi were the only World Champions taking part—Australia’s 1980 winner Alan Jones withdrew on the eve of the event—the 14 drivers in the race were some of the true legends of the sport and the performance they put on was appreciated by all.
The race also saw the return of Murray “The Voice” Walker behind the microphone after he retired several years ago from Formula 1 commentary. - Sapa