Todt’s election rival wants Bahrain race investigation

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David Ward, who is standing for election against FIA president Jean Todt, says questions should be asked over why Formula One is continuing to race in the troubled state of Bahrain.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled in 2011 after the government’s suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations left several protesters dead and hundreds more injured. Despite an ongoing state of emergency in the area attempts were made to hold the race in 2011 and it was eventually reinstated the following year.

Ward told the BBC in an interview an investigation was needed into the suitability of Bahrain as a grand prix venue.

“Look at things on the ground, talk to all sides as far as is possible and make a judgement based on that.”

The FIA conducted its own investigation into the situation in 2011 which produced a favourable verdict. But the report was discredited when the race ultimately failed to go ahead.

Ward said Todt had been poorly served by the report, which was written by Spanish motoring club president Carlos Gracia.

“I think he was rather badly served in that mission [to Bahrain],” said Ward. “I felt sorry for him, actually.”

Bahrain has been allocated a place on the 2014 F1 calendar which was released last week.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at Ground Zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.