Hinchcliffe to be “Director For A Day” at Indianapolis Dept. of Public Safety

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Fresh off a dramatic victory last Sunday in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, James Hinchcliffe is ready to get started on preparations for the 97th Indianapolis 500. But before he takes his first laps of the season around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he’ll serve as the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety’s “Director For A Day” tomorrow afternoon according to a release obtained by Bill McCleery of The Indianapolis Star.

The release says that the Andretti Autosport driver, who has had a feast-or-famine season so far with two wins and two DNFs, will meet with the Indianapolis fire and police departments. In addition, he’ll also attend a rescue demonstration, training sessions at the city’s police academy, and various meetings with public officials.

IDPS director Troy Riggs started the “Director For A Day” program, which occurs once a month and is designed to show members of the public what day-to-day operations are like for the department.

Hinchcliffe and the rest of the “500” field begin their quest for the Borg-Warner Trophy this weekend with the start of practice out at the Brickyard. NBC Sports Network will have coverage from IMS starting Saturday, May 18 with Pole Day qualifying (11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. ET, 4:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and will also carry Bump Day (Sun., May 19, Noon-6:30 p.m. ET) and Carb Day (Fri., May 24, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. ET) activities leading up to the race on Sunday, May 26.

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.”