Sam Bird tops Formula E practice in Malaysia

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After a hiatus of more than two months, the all-electric FIA Formula E championship resumes its season tonight with Round 2 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has topped the one-hour, 15-minute practice that will lead into qualifying at 9 p.m. ET. Late in the session, Bird threw down a 1:21.496 around the 12-turn, 1.6-mile Putrajaya street circuit.

The session got a bit messy during the final half-hour. A red flag came out for TrulliGP driver Michela Cerruti losing a wheel, which robbed the drivers of about 15 minutes of track time.

Then towards the very end, Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld – who survived a horrific crash following last-lap contact with e.dams-Renault’s Nicolas Prost in the Beijing season opener – found the Turn 3 barrier.

The Venturi team has since tweeted that Heidfeld is OK, but the session did not restart after his latest incident. Also suffering trouble late was Red Bull Global Rallycross’ own Nelson Piquet Jr., who sustained a broken rear suspension on his China Racing entry.

American-based squad Dragon Racing was represented toward the top of the time sheets, as Jerome d’Ambrosio went P2 with a 1:22.043 run. e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi was third-fastest with a 1:22.256, followed by Dragon’s other pilot, IndyCar vet Oriol Servia in fourth (1:22.584). Prost (1:22.674) rounded out the Top 5.

The other U.S. team, Andretti Formula E, had Indy Lights pilot Matthew Brabham go to seventh (1:22.961) and Franck Montagny to eighth (1:23.287). Brabham is subbing in for Charles Pic, who is on reserve duty for Lotus at the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.

Lucas di Grassi, who became Formula E’s inaugural race winner in Beijing following the Heidfeld-Prost crack-up, was only 13th-fastest in his Audi Sport Abt entry with a 1:24.825.

Tonight’s race is scheduled for a 1 a.m. ET start in the United States.

Wickens undergoes successful surgery

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Just days after successfully piloting an Acura NSX around Toronto’s Exhibition Palace street course, Robert Wickens has undergone a successful surgery operation to remove hardware from his leg after a previous infection had returned, the 30-year-old Canadian revealed on social media Wednesday.

“Spinal Cord injury has such highs and lows,” Wickens said in an Instagram post prior to surgery. “One day I’m in the NSX driving the hand controlled car, and the next day I’m getting ready for surgery. Life is so unpredictable!”

Fortunately, the surgery went well for Wickens, as he later announced that his surgery had no complications. Wickens will now start six weeks of IV antibiotics before he returns to a full rehab program.

“One piece (there’s a lot) of the hardware had an infected screw,” Wickens wrote. “All hardware in my leg was removed.”

Wickens is currently recovering from spinal fracture sustained in an IndyCar crash at Pocono Raceway last August. Since his crash and diagnosis, Wickens has openly documented his recovery process through social media.

Wickens returned to the INDYCAR paddock for the first time since his accident at the season-opener in St. Petersburg in March, and his laps behind the wheel in Toronto last weekend marked the first time he had driven in public since his accident.

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