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Component failure cuts short second day of testing for Renault’s Palmer

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Formula 1 rookie driver Jolyon Palmer’s start with Renault isn’t quite starting the way he hoped.

In the first two days of a four-day preseason test in Barcelona, Spain, Palmer and his Renault Sport F1 team have encountered a couple typical preseason niggles.

Monday, the team experienced a software issue that slowed it down both on and off the track. On Tuesday, yet another issue arose, this time a component failure that cut short the test session.

Palmer was 10th fastest of 11 drivers that took part in Tuesday’s testing. While most of the field clocked over 100 laps, Palmer made just 42 laps around the 4.7 kilometer track, with a best lap of 1 minute, 26.189 seconds.

“After steps overnight from both factories to work around yesterday’s software issues, we ran a positive program this morning where we were able to collect data on the chassis and power unit side,” Renault Engine Technical Director Remi Taffin said in the team’s Tuesday release. “In the afternoon we experienced an early power unit component failure which ended our running.

“We were able to diagnose the issue easily as it was an area we knew there could be a weakness and we will have a solution in hand.”

Even with the component failure, Palmer remained optimistic about the remainder of the test. Kevin Magnussen makes his debut for the team Wednesday in the third day of the four day test.

“The positives from today are immediately apparent,” Palmer said. “We were able to run a good program in the morning, covering a lot of what we wanted to do.

“The car feels good and forgiving and provides a great baseline for us to work forward. Unfortunately, we did stop running early in the afternoon, but my overall analysis of today is most certainly positive.”

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.