FIA WEC: Ex-F1 prospects Calado, Bird do well in qualifying

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Former open-wheelers James Calado and Sam Bird appear to be taking to the World Endurance Championship nicely after qualifying up the grid in their respective classes for tomorrow’s WEC season-opener at Silverstone.

Calado and Bird are with the same AF Corse Ferrari team, but the former is in the GTE-Pro while the latter is in GTE-Am. But both of them had a fine Saturday, with Calado and teammate Davide Rigon qualifying fourth in Pro and Bird, Stephen Wyatt, and Michele Rugalo earning pole in Am.

Calado, who finished third in GP2 last year, sounded pleased with his work and hailed teammates Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander for their GTE-Pro pole on Twitter.

As for Bird, last year’s GP2 runner-up, he says he’s having fun with his “amazing opportunity” to run with AF Corse, which won last year’s WEC GTE-Pro title.

“[It’s been] really good fun, and I’m enjoying my racing in GTs,” Bird said to reporters today at Silverstone. “It’d be great to get on the podium. Obviously, the main thing is to make sure that Steve is fast as possible.

“If he can do a really good job then we’re gonna be within a shout of being on the podium if not winning the race.  Hopefully, the conditions will suit us. If not, it might be a very tricky race.”

Bird and Rugalo topped the Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy, Christoffer Nygaard, and Paul Dalla Lana for GTE-Am pole by almost a full second.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.