Wet weather helps Mears win N.J. pole


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wet weather kept the action to a minimum yesterday at the New Jersey Meadowlands, giving Rick Mears the pole position for today's Marlboro Grand Prix.

Mears set a track qualifying record and beat Penske Racing teammate Emerson Fittipaldi and hot-handed Michael Andretti for the provisional pole on Friday in dry, warm weather.

Those speeds easily held up yesterday, as overnight rain continued into the daylight hours, soaking the 1.217-mile, six-turn course circling the Meadowlands Arena.

Only seven drivers even ventured onto the track during yesterday's morning practice session. Several of them spun on the wet surface, including Fittipaldi.

"I was coming off the last turn and tried to put down the power and just spun it," the Brazilian said.

It was still raining during the qualifying period and only seven drivers went out.

Mears remained first with his Friday speed of 115.991, followed by Fittipaldi at 115.413, Andretti 115.328, series point leader Bobby Rahal 115.304, Mario Andretti 114.911 and Al Unser Jr. 114.884.

Mears is coming off a 17th-place finish at Cleveland, where he knocked himself out of the race by hitting a concrete barrier. He fell from second to fifth in the points.

British Grand Prix

SILVERSTONE, England -- Nigel Mansell won a personal duel with Ayrton Senna to grab the pole position for today's race, putting himself in excellent shape for a second straight Formula One victory.

Mansell, who won the French Grand Prix last weekend, had a fastest lap of 1 minute, 20.939 seconds in yesterday's second qualifying session. His Williams-Renault also was fastest in Friday's qualifying with 1:22.644.

The Briton's pole-winning lap came with eight minutes remaining in the hourlong qualifying session and just four minutes after Senna had appeared to win the 57th pole of his career.

Mansell had improved his Friday time with a lap of 1:21.863 early in yesterday's session, but Senna surpassed that by posting a lap of 1:21.618 with 12 minutes left to temporarily grab the pole.

"It is a very, very special time. Other than one little slip, it was almost a perfect lap," Mansell said. "I was on the limit and through the limit at times. I clipped one curb, but it didn't unsettle the car too much."

Senna ended up second on the starting grid in his McLaren-Honda. The other Williams driver, Riccardo Patrese, was third fastest in 1:22.109 and the fourth spot on the grid was taken by McLaren's Gerhard Berger in 1:22.476.

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