Will Power leads second Sao Paulo practice

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Will Power is still leading the way in Sao Paulo after leading the last practice session before this afternoon’s qualifying session. The Australian turned in a lap of 1 minute, 20.9264 seconds to lead the session for Team Penske, narrowly beating the best from Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (1 minute, 21.0022 seconds) and E.J. Viso (1 minute, 21.2222 seconds).

Scott Dixon was fourth-quickest for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at 1 minute, 21.2826 seconds, while Sao Paulo’s own Helio Castroneves was fifth in the session (1 minute, 21.2994). Dario Franchitti, James Hinchcliffe, Simona de Silvestro, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan rounded out the Top 10.

Multiple red flag periods gave a choppy feel to the second session. Among the incidents were those of Tristan Vautier, who sustained front-wing damage in an incident at Turn 5, and Kanaan, who appeared to lock up briefly before plowing through a tire barrier at Turn 2 with the right front of his machine (he eventually returned later in the session). Simon Pagenaud also ran into more issues after crashing in this morning’s first practice, as he came to a stop on the Sambadromo front stretch shortly after coming back out in his repaired Honda.

Qualifying for tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 will go off today at 1:35 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Network airing the session Sunday morning at 1 a.m. ET. Here are the two groups for qualifying, set by the times from the first practice:

Group 1
67-Josef Newgarden
10-Dario Franchitti
11-Tony Kanaan
14-Takuma Sato
55-Tristan Vautier
9-Scott Dixon
5-E.J. Viso
15-Graham Rahal
98-Alex Tagliani
22-Oriol Servia
83-Charlie Kimball
25-Marco Andretti

Group 2
12-Will Power
7-Sebastien Bourdais
4-JR Hildebrand
77-Simon Pagenaud
3-Helio Castroneves
27-James Hinchcliffe
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay
19-Justin Wilson
78-Simona de Silvestro
16-James Jakes
6-Sebastian Saavedra
18-Ana Beatriz
20-Ed Carpenter

Watch tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 online and on your mobile device.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”