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MAY 28, 2001

Mansell sets unofficial record at Rockingham

NIGEL MANSELL eclipsed Keke Rosberg's 16-year-old record to set the fastest lap of a British race circuit at the official opening of the Rockingham Speedway near Corby, England.

Mansell, the 1992 Formula 1 world champion and 1993 Indycar world champion, was demonstrating the potential of the new oval as Rockingham seeks to attract public support prior to the arrival of Britain's first ever Champ Car race in September this year.

Originally Mansell had himself been lined up to drive a Champ Car at newly-finished Rockingham's first promoted event, the Coys Historic Festival, but it seems that there were none available to him. Instead he performed the lap in the Indy Lights car of talented young Brit Dan Wheldon, to show off the new oval, and set an unofficial new record in the process.

Rosberg's effort will however remain a landmark in Formula 1 as its fastest-ever lap - set ironically when he was Mansell's Williams team mate in 1985. The 1500bhp Honda-powered car powered round the Silverstone circuit before the 'Stadium' complex from Bridge to Luffield, the Vale section or any of the reprofiling at Copse, Maggots and Becketts had taken place and will stand as the fastest lap ever in the world championship.

The fastest lap by a Grand Prix car however will remain the property of Bernd Rosemeyer in perpetuity. In 1937 at the AVUS GP Rosemeyer's streamlined 6-liter Auto Union hit an average of 171.74mph on the 12-mile circuit and a few weeks later set a land speed record of 242mph.