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IndyCar rallies together in wake of Robert Wickens’ accident

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LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Alexander Rossi and Robert Wickens have forged a bit of a rivalry this season. They’ve tangled on the track a few times, and exchanged the occasional verbal dart – some more playful than others, like when Wickens jokingly locked Rossi in a prison cell during a promotional event last month.

But animosity between IndyCar drivers tends to dissolve quickly amid grim reminders of the sport’s dangers.

Wickens was just a few laps into the race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday when he connected with Ryan Hunter-Reay and soared into the catchfence. The fencing was shredded, and Wickens’ car was reduced to just the tub, which came to a rest on the track along an interior wall.

The race was stopped – and IndyCar came together.

“All 22 of us, 33 of us, whatever it may be, are a family,” Rossi said. “We try our best to look after each other out there. You don’t want to see that happen to anyone. We’ll continue to think of him and pray for him, his family, his fiancee; all that they have to deal with.”

Wickens was being treated for injuries to his lower extremities, right arm and spine following an accident that led to him getting airlifted from the track to the hospital. IndyCar said the Canadian sustained a pulmonary contusion and will undergo an MRI and probable surgery at Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest in Allentown.

IndyCar drivers were more concerned with his health and future than what the race meant to the championship picture.

“All we can hope for is that everybody is going to be OK,” points leader Scott Dixon said.

It was the latest chilling moment at Pocono: Justin Wilson died from a head injury in 2015 when a piece of debris from a crashed car bounced off the track and hit his helmet.

James Hinchcliffe, who was caught up in Wickens’ wreck, had survived his own life-threatening injury when a broken part from his car pierced an artery during a 2015 crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But the series goes on – even on the oval tracks like Indy and Pocono where danger makes even veteran race fans tense up.

Once the green flag dropped for the final time Sunday, the drivers played nice. There wasn’t another caution the rest of the way, and Rossi closed the gap on Dixon in the points race with a dominant win.

Rossi led 180 of 200 laps to win his second straight race and third of the season, slicing Dixon’s lead to 29 points with three races left.

Will Power, who won the last two Pocono races, was second, and Dixon finished third.

“We’ve been a bit blah. They’ve been excelling,” Dixon said of Rossi.

Rossi also won for Andretti Autosport on the streets of Long Beach in April and the Mid-Ohio road course three weeks ago.

Wickens finished second at Mid-Ohio, what was the latest in a sensational string of races for the 29-year-old Canadian driver in his first season in IndyCar. Wickens had reeled off five straight top-five finishes and is sixth in the standings. Hinchcliffe, runner-up on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” in 2017, helped lure Wickens to IndyCar and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this season after a successful career in Europe.

“I know he is in good hands. Hopefully, we’ll see him back in the car soon,” Hinchcliffe said.

It surely won’t be next week at Gateway Motorsports Park or the rest of this season.

IndyCar drivers can steel their will to put any kind of bad news behind them once they get behind the wheel and hit 220 mph in an open cockpit. There’s a championship to race for and Dixon has a fifth title in sight.

He not only has to hold off Rossi, but former series champions Josef Newgarden and Power aren’t out of contention yet.

Rossi sprayed champagne and confetti flew on the podium.

The celebration may have seemed normal, but thoughts couldn’t help stray toward Wickens.

“It’s tough to really celebrate after what happened,” Rossi said.

Extreme E reveals competition format for its global races next season

Extreme E
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Extreme E, a new series that will raise awareness about climate change by racing electric SUVs around the world, unveiled its competition format Friday.

The five-race environmentally conscious series will begin next season with races held in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland and Brazil.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport are among the eight teams that will race in the series. Each team will have a male and female driver who alternate in each event.

ELECTRIC APPEAL: Why Ganassi is going to the Extreme E

In the details provided Friday, the two-day events will feature two qualifying races Saturday and two semifinals and a final round Sunday. Each race is two laps: One driven by the male driver and the other by the female. Results are based on finishes, not times.

The first semifinal is slotted with Saturday’s top four qualifiers, and the top three finishers advance to the final. The second semifinal (also known as the “Crazy Race”) will feature the last four qualifiers with the winner advancing to the final.

Click here to see the details of Extreme E’s sporting format.

Here’s the release from Extreme E:

29 May, London: Extreme E, the revolutionary electric off-road racing series, has outlined the race format for its five-event adventure to some of the most formidable, remote and spectacular locations across the globe, starting early 2021.

The series has devised an innovative format unlike any other, likened to a Star Wars Pod Racing meets Dakar Rally, which is designed to break the mould in motorsport with all-action, short, sharp wheel-to-wheel racing, world-class drivers and teams, the cutting-edge ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV and its stunning, formidable environments, all firmly in focus.

Each race, which will be known as an X Prix, will incorporate two laps over a distance of approximately 16 kilometres. Four teams, with two drivers – one male, one female – completing a lap apiece in-car, will race head-to-head in each race over the two-day event.

Qualifying takes place on day one to determine the top four runners who will progress through into Semi-Final 1 and the bottom four competitors who will go on to take part in Semi-Final 2: the unique ‘Crazy Race’.

The Crazy Race will be a tooth-and-nail, all-or-nothing fight, with only the quickest team progressing into the Final, while the top three will make it through from Semi-Final 1. The winner of the Final – the fastest combination of team, drivers, car and engineers over the epic two-day battle – will then be crowned the X Prix Winner.

Another innovative feature is the Hyperdrive. This will award an additional boost of speed to the team who performs the longest jump on the first jump of each race. Hyperdrive power can be used by that team at any point in the race.

This initial format is designed to incorporate eight teams, and can be adapted to accommodate additional entries.

Teams will field one male and one female driver, promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. Each driver will complete one lap behind the wheel, with a changeover incorporated into the race format.

The teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy and driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the cars reach the start-line. Contests between males and females will therefore be ensured.

X Prix circuits will also incorportate natural challenges that will leave viewers at the edge of their seats, and drivers and teams will be pushed right to the limits of their abilities; with hazards to navigate and defeat such as extreme gradients, jumps, banks, berms, pits, dunes and water splashes.

Alejandro Agag, Extreme E Founder and CEO, said: “Extreme E is a championship like nothing else that has come before in sport. Its goal and objective is to accelerate innovation and tackle climate change head on using transportation.

“Creating this innovative sporting format, which we’re likening to Star Wars Pod Racing meets Dakar Rally, is vital in order to engage the next generation of motorsport fans. We hope our fans will enjoy the short, sharp, wheel-to-wheel racing this format has been built around, and with our high performance electric vehicle, driver changeover, the Hyperdrive feature, and the Crazy Race qualification format, there is plenty to watch out for, and many chances for positions to change hands, Our races really will go right to the wire.”

Extreme E’s cutting-edge 550-horsepower, ODYSSEY 21, incorporates a number of innovations to enable it to cope with all the rigours of racing over the toughest terrain, where no car has raced before. The battery-electric, 400kw (550hp), 1650-kilogram, 2.3-metre wide E-SUV is bespoke from the ground up. Capable of firing from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 percent.

It is made up of a common package of standardised parts, manufactured by Spark Racing Technology with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering. This encompasses a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, as well as crash structure and roll cage, whilst tyres, for both extreme winter and summer requirements, supplied by founding partner Continental Tyres.

As well as being used as platform for equality and illutstrating the capabilities of electric vehicle technology, Extreme E will highlight the impact that climate change is having on its remote race locations, using a committee of leading scientists to help bring global attention to issues such as deforestation in Brazil, rising sea levels along the West African coastline, melting Arctic icecaps in Greenland, and more.

The championship will announce further drivers, teams and partners over the coming weeks as it builds towards its early 2021 start-date apace.