Samiksha Jaiswal

1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix

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Date  20 March, 1994
Weather  Rain
1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix
Official name  1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix
Location  Surfers Paradise Street Circuit Queensland, Australia
Course  Temporary Street Circuit 2.794 mi / 4.496 km
Distance  55 laps 153.670 mi / 247.280 km

The 1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix was the opening round of the 1994 CART World Series season, held on 20 March 1994 on the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, Australia.

Nigel Mansell, the defending winner and CART series champion, won the pole position in Newman-Haas's new Lola T94/00. Alongside on the grid was Michael Andretti, who was beginning his comeback to the CART series with Chip Ganassi Racing after spending a year in Formula One. Starting in eighth position was future CART and Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve, making his first start in the CART series. It was also the Indy car debut of the Reynard chassis and the Honda engine.

The race start was delayed because of changing wet weather conditions and accidents during each of the first two attempts. The first incident occurred in Turn 12 (the final corner) and collected Raul Boesel, Willy T. Ribbs, Robbie Buhl, and Alessandro Zampedri. The second aborted start saw further carnage; this time in the second chicane involving Boesel and Zampedri again, along with Mario Andretti, Hiro Matsushita, and Davy Jones slowed the field. Bobby Rahal hit the tyre wall in the first chicane, apparently on his own, and Paul Tracy spun off in Turn 4 undamaged. The race finally started around 4 p.m., with Andretti overtaking Mansell on the first lap.

Michael Andretti got by Mansell after the start (the third attempt), as did Robby Gordon. In Turn 5 he muscled his way past Mansell, who soon outbraked the Californian in the same place. On Lap 17 Gordon spun and crashed after he clipped too much curb in the backstretch chicanes. Lap 20 saw the exit of Mark Smith, who locked up the right front, and Zampedri (in his third incident of the race) who seemed to be watching Smith rather than the road.

On the restart Andretti caught a huge break when Mansell spun on the damp track in front of Emerson Fittipaldi and Teo Fabi. A moment later in the second chicane Michael slid into the tyre barrier but continued on undamaged. Mansell later spun off in Turn 9 while passing MaurĂ­cio Gugelmin. He spun the car around, but bumped the wall with the left rear tyre and stalled the engine. On Lap 38 Stefan Johansson and rookie Jacques Villeneuve touched coming towards Turn 9, ending the Canadian's IndyCar debut early. Later on, because of the delays, darkness fell over the circuit. Former racer Chip Ganassi, whose car was in the lead, was very concerned about visibility. He pleaded with CART to end the race after saying to ABC's Gary Gerould, "This is a dangerous situation! The lights are on along the pits here! The lights are on at the Marriott hotel...the race needs to be stopped!" The circuit was lit during the end of the race, but not sufficiently to run safely as a night race, and the 65 lap distance was shortened by 10 laps due to darkness. Andretti, leading all 55 laps, won in his Ganassi debut, which was also Reynard's first IndyCar race. This continued their record of winning on their debut in various categories including Formula 3 and F3000. Emerson Fittipaldi, driving the new Penske PC-23, finished second, followed by Mario Andretti, who began his final CART season with the final podium finish of his Indy car career. Jimmy Vasser and Stefan Johansson rounded out the Top five.

Qualifying results

R = Rookie driver, DNQ = Did not qualify, W = Andrea Montermini withdrew from the race after a crash during Saturday morning practice.

References

1994 Australian FAI Indycar Grand Prix Wikipedia


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