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Indy 500: Big crash for de Silvestro

Practice finally got underway in Indianapolis in much improved weather conditions but it was a short run for Simona de Silvestro before a vicious crash left her car upside down and on fire.
Simona de Silvestro suffered the first spectacular crash of the Indianapolis 500 practice sessions, which left her car upside down and on fire after going airborne twice.

The accident happened after her HVM suffered a clearly visible suspension mechanical failure into turn 3 that resulted in the underside of the car sending out a huge trail of sparks. The car was sent into a spin and as it went sideways it was briefly lifted into the air, before making impact rear-first with the outside wall.

The HVM then scraped its way along the wall before the aerodynamics conspired to lift the car into the air a second time as it went into turn 4. This time the car flipped over entirely; because it had been airborne, it also caught the lower part of the catch fence as well as the SAFER barrier. The car then slid to a halt upside down on the track, leaving a fiery trail as it went as fuel leaked and caught fire.

De Silvestro was able to climb clear of the car with assistance and walk away under her own power and was clearly alert and responsive, but she was reported to have suffered second degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns on her left. She was taken to the Speedway medical centre and then transferred by ambulance to Indiana University Methodist Hospital.

After a caution period to put out the fire, clean up the wreckage and repair the SAFER barrier and catch fence in turn 3, practice resumed at 1.03pm.

Conditions are much better today than they have been for most of the week, finally allowing all teams to get out on track to run practice laps as they prepare set-up for this weekend's qualifying sessions. During the first five days of scheduled practice, only one and a half ways was actually usable by the teams because of rain, wind and cold conditions.

Thursday's session started on time at noon and is scheduled to run until 6pm local time (11pm UK time.)

At the mid point of the session, the top five speeds had been set by Alex Tagliani (226.541 mph), JR Hildebrand (226.527), Scott Dixon (226.453), Danica Patrick (226.267) and Townsend Bell (226.018) when the yellow came out for debris and a course inspection.

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Simona de Silvestro returns to pit lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being treated in hospital for burns to both hands, following a practice crash on Thursday, May 19. [Picture credit: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media]
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