Three spectators die in accident at Scotland’s Jim Clark Rally

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Three spectators have been killed and multiple others have been injured in accidents during today’s stage of the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Per the Guardian, the deadly crash took place near Coldstream in the Scottish Borders region. One of the cars reportedly lost control and swerved off the road. Three were pronounced dead at the scene, and another is in a critical condition at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

“It was just one car which lost control,” a witness, Tony Cowan, told the paper. “It went sideways one way and then to the other side of the road and plowed into four people.

“It was terrible, absolutely terrible. I ran to help but there was little I could do. The air ambulance arrived after about three-quarters of an hour. There were police cars and ambulances. It was chaos, just chaos.”

Additionally, local police are investigating an earlier incident in the rally that saw five spectators hit by a car. According to Autosport, four of the five were treated at that particular scene, while one was taken to a hospital and is in serious condition.

The event, which serves as the second round of the British Rally Championship, has been cancelled in the wake of the tragedy.

The Motor Sports Association, the United Kingdom’s governing body for auto racing, has released the following statement:

“The Motor Sports Association and everyone in the motor sport community is devastated by the terrible events this afternoon on the Jim Clark Rally. The families and friends of those who have lost their lives and of those who have been injured are in all our thoughts as they face such an awful situation.

“Police Scotland are now in control of all aspects of the investigations into the two accidents and both the Police and hospital authorities will issue further bulletins when they can. Everyone waits anxiously for some better news of those who have been injured.

“As with any serious incident, today’s accidents will also be subject to full enquiries by the MSA to ensure that any lessons are learned to assist in the constant drive to provide the highest possible safety standards at all motor sport events.”

Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at this time…

Mercedes power: Hamilton, Bottas fastest during 1st French GP practice

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) — Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the top two times during the opening practice for Formula One’s French Grand Prix on Friday.

Defending champion Hamilton clocked the best lap time at 0.140 seconds faster than Bottas.

Red Bulls’ Daniel Ricciardo had the third best effort, followed by Ferrari pair Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel leads Hamilton by one point atop the standings after seven of 21 races.

The session had one red flag near the end when Marcus Ericsson spun out of control and slammed into the barrier on Turn 11. The right rear of his Sauber burst into flame before the Swede got out. Sauber said he was unharmed.

Hamilton also had a scare when forced to swerve off course to avoid ramming a slow-going Stoffel Vandoorne and slalomed around two rows of bollards before returning to the flow. Hamilton said on his team radio the McLaren driver was going “dangerously slow” when he came upon him.

Later, Hamilton complained his Mercedes was having trouble turning. After coming back out, the four-time world champion quickly went to the top of the timesheet.

This was the first chance drivers had to run on the 5.8-kilometer (3.6-mile) Paul Ricard Circuit, as F1 makes its return to France for the first time in a decade.

The track resting in wooded hills just inland from the Cote d’Azur was basked in the Mediterranean sun and subject to moments of gusting winds.

Raikkonen, Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Esteban Ocon (Force India) and Vandoorne all spun their cars onto the blue-striped run-off areas at Turn Six because of a tricky tailwind but managed to stop before hitting the barrier.

Charles Leclerc (Sauber) twice spun to a brief stop, while Max Verstappen drove wide on consecutive corners and had a near-miss with Sergio Perez of Force India.

Vettel took the lead in the standings two weeks ago in Montreal where he won the Canadian GP after starting from pole position. That victory erased a 14-point lead held by Hamilton after he could manage only a fifth-place finish.

There will be two more practices on Friday and on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s race.

The last time a F1 race was held here at Le Castellet was in 1990 when Alain Prost won for Ferrari.