SURFERS PARADISE, Australia -- For a man who had won both races in which he earned the pole position, Al Unser Jr. was indifferent about the honor.
Unser, driving a new Valvoline Galmer-Chevy, set a track record yesterday at the Gold Coast Indy Grand Prix -- the first series race of 1992. He sped around the revamped street course at 101.900 mph, passing a trouble-plagued Michael Andretti for the pole position in today's race.
Andretti, last year's IndyCar series champion, had electrical problems yesterday and failed to record a lap time. But his Friday time of 101.612 mph placed him alongside Unser in the front row of the starting grid.
"As soon as I stepped on the throttle, I noticed a problem," Andretti said. "It's unfortunate that it happened in this session."
Unser won pole positions at Long Beach, Calif., in 1989 and 1990, where he won both races. Unser seems to do well at Long Beach anyway -- his 17 career victories include four at Long Beach.
Mexico Grand Prix
MEXICO CITY -- Nigel Mansell, nursing a Williams-Renault through countless problems, won the pole position and again will start alongside teammate Ricardo Patrese in today's Formula One race.
Mansell, of England, also had the pole position two weeks ago before winning the season-opening South African Grand Prix. He qualified yesterday over the difficult Hermanos Rodriguez circuit 129.535 mph, covering the 2.747-mile layout in 1 minute, 16.346 seconds.
His Italian teammate, who finished second in South Africa, was clocked at 129.408.
Many drivers complained about the track during qualifying runs Friday and yesterday, despite some changes made to reduce the bank of La Peraltada, its most dangerous curves.
"Of course I am very happy to win the pole position, but I would have been happier if I did not have the problems that I had," Mansell said. "The track was incredibly slippery. It seemed to have been a dramatic afternoon."
Mansell and other drivers said they didn't think conditions will improve in today's 70-lap race.
Michel Schumacher of Germany and his Benetton-Ford teammate, Martin Brundle of Britain, took the second row in the ** field of 26 drivers. Schumacher's speed was 127.851, Brundle's 125.742.
The third row had defending series champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil, whose speed was 125.418. He was outside McLaren-Honda teammate Gerhard Berger of Germany, fifth on the grid at 125.741.
12 Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, Fla. -- The Toyota Eagle of Juan Fangio II and AndyWallace forged into the lead of the 40th anniversary edition of the race in the eighth hour as both the favored Nissan GT Prototypes ran into mechanical problems.
Fangio, the nephew of his namesake, a five-time Formula One champion, was at the wheel at 6:55 p.m. EST when the leading Nissan, co-driven by Australian brothers Geoff and Gary Brabham, Derek Daly of Ireland and Arie Luyendyk of The Netherlands, made a second stop to try to solve a problem with its lights.
The other Nissan, which had swapped the lead with its team car, was leading when smoke began belching from the engine and it spun off course at 6 p.m. Bob Earl, co-driving with pole-winner Chip Robinson and Luyendyk, was able to drive the car to the pits, but it remained there for extensive repairs.
Nissan won the last three Sebring races and appeared to have the upper hand again yesterday, particularly after each of its competitors ran into problems in the early going.
In the fourth hour, Wallace, an Englishman who has previously won 24-hour races at Daytona and LeMans, bumped a slow GTU car and had to make two extra stops for repairs.
"The car is now handling just as good as new," Wallace said. "It's still a very good race car. The biggest worry out there is traffic -- it's unbelieveable.
"The traffic is getting worse every year because the GTU cars are staying the same speed while the GTP cars are getting
faster. They [GTU drivers] have a tremendously difficult job, but they need to stay to one side or the other."