Le Mans update: Aston Martin crash occurs in first hour

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10 a.m. ET: The 90th Anniversary 24 Hours of Le Mans is underway from the Circuit de la Sarthe, with more than one hour complete.

That said, the majority of the first hour was spent under the safety car for a massive accident at Tertre Rouge for Allen Simonsen, the GTE Am class polesitter, in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage.

Reports have been mixed on Simonsen’s condition. An official tweet from the @FIAWEC Twitter account said Simonsen was conscious (that tweet is below). On the SPEED TV broadcast, pit reporter Andrew Marriott said Aston Martin officials were unable to confirm his condition.

No replay was shown of exactly what caused the shunt, but Simonsen’s car contacted the Armco barriers on the exit of the corner and his left door on the car was gone, with the right one still ajar. Tommy Milner, co-driver of the No. 74 Corvette Racing C6.R in GTE Pro, tweeted what he had heard via reports.

We’ll keep you posted as official news develops.

At the front of the field, the pair of Toyota TS030 Hybrids made early charges with Nicolas Lapierre and Anthony Davidson on the trio of Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Audi is expected to pit earlier and more frequently than the Toyotas as the Toyotas have a fuel tank size advantage, but the pace of the Audi is expected to keep it ahead.

Olivier Pla, the polesitter in LMP2, led that class in the No. 24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan until his first pit stop. Aston Martin’s No. 97 led GTE Pro with Patrick Long leaping to the lead in GTE Am in the No. 77 Dempsey Del Piero Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the car that also includes Patrick Dempsey behind the wheel.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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