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More bad news for SPM: Rookie Robert Wickens wrecks in Indy 500 practice

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Canadian rookie Robert Wickens crashed early this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

Wickens had come out of Turn 2, skimmed the outside wall, moved slightly to the left, and suddenly veered hard to the right and into the outside retaining wall and then coasted into the infield grass.

The entire right side of his Honda was destroyed. He exited his mangled wreck under his own power and was taken to the infield care center, where he was checked and released.

“I just got some oversteer in 2, late in the corner, thought I got away with a big save, and just ran out of track and brushed the wall,” Wickens told the IMS Radio Network. “I was already on the brakes, trying to slow down and it just went violently right on the driver’s side and into the wall. It sucks for the guys. They have a lot of work ahead of them. I’m pretty disappointed.”

Wickens had turned only three laps with a top speed of 222.325 mph before wrecking.

“Looks like he got loose, don’t know if he had a low tire or what, we’ll have to look at the telemetry,” team owner Sam Schmidt told the IMS Network. “You’d rather have it happen today than on race day. … He’s been having a hell of a season. He’s the total package, for sure.”

The team now has four days to repair the damage, as the next on-track action won’t be until Friday.

It took about 15 minutes to clear the track of debris and practice has resumed back under green flag conditions.

Wickens’ teammate and best friend, James Hinchcliffe, will not be in the 500, having failed to qualify for the 33-car field, being one of two drivers that will miss the race.

While there has been significant speculation that Hinchcliffe’s team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, may try to buy a ride into the 500 for him, Hinchcliffe said Sunday that he doesn’t anticipate being in the race.

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F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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