Riyadh to host Formula E opening race in December

Formula E's first championship was as recent as 2014 and Brasil's Lucas di Grassi is the current champion.
Updated 17 May 2018
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Riyadh to host Formula E opening race in December

  • Saudi Arabia capital gets green light to host spectacle of speed at the end of the year.
  • Hosting the race "aligns perfectly" with the country’s 2030 vision, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud says.

The all-electric Formula E motor racing series will start its 2018-19 season in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, organizers announced on Thursday.
The December race in Riyadh’s Ad-Diriyah district, on the outskirts of the capital, will be the first involving the season five next generation cars and marks Formula E’s debut in the Middle East.
The city-based series said it had reached a 10-year agreement with the General Sports Authority and national motor federation.
“Saudi Arabia is looking to the future and Formula E is the motorsport of the future,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice-chair of the GSA, said in a statement on the Formula E website.
“It aligns perfectly with the country’s 2030 vision and offers the prospect of world-class racing on the streets of the capital for the first time in our history,” he added.
“This is the latest in a series of game-changing sports events that the people of Saudi Arabia will now be able to enjoy as families, with benefits that go far beyond the sport to deliver a positive impact across our society.”
“Many other sports are already increasing their presence in Saudi Arabia and we’re proud that they’ve chosen Formula E over other categories in racing,” said Formula E founder and chief executive Alejandro Agag.
“Most countries are now looking to Formula E, especially Saudi Arabia which is concentrating on the development of new technologies, renewable energies and electric vehicles.”
Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 gigawatts of annual renewable energy by 2023 in line with Vision 2030, an economic reform plan launched in 2016 to diversify the economy beyond oil.
The renewable program involves investment of between $30 billion and $50 billion by 2023.


Egypt ‘lucky loser’ gets shock French Open call to take on Grigor Dimitrov

Updated 10 sec ago
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Egypt ‘lucky loser’ gets shock French Open call to take on Grigor Dimitrov

Mohamed Safwat became the first man from Egypt to play in a Grand Slam tennis tournament’s main draw in 22 years on Sunday — and he got very little notice that chance would come at the French Open.
Safwat got into the field as a “lucky loser,” someone who failed to make it out of the qualifying rounds but is given a berth when another player withdraws. In this case, Victor Troicki pulled out on Sunday because of an injured lower back.
So, the 182nd-ranked Safwat made his Grand Slam debut on Court Philippe Chatrier against No. 4-seeded Grigor Dimitrov. Not surprisingly, Dimitrov won 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Dimitrov said he only found out he’d be playing Safwat about 20 minutes beforehand.
Safwat was cheered off the court in a rousing ovation. The last Egyptian man to play at a major tournament was Tamer El Sawy at the 1996 US Open.
“I only heard I was playing an hour before the match,” said Safwat. “I was warming up, I signed in as a lucky loser and I was told I might be on court at 11 o’clock. I dealt with it as best I could. I had never set foot on that court before.”
The 27-year-old had lost in the final round of qualifying to Guido Andreozzi of Argentina last week in what was his eighth futile attempt to make the main draw of the majors. A rule change this year has helped the cause of defeated qualifiers at the Slams. If a player withdraws injured before their scheduled first-round match, they still receive half the prize money while the lucky loser takes the other half. Safwat will pick up around $23,000 for his day’s work.
His career earnings of $350,000 pale in comparison to Dimitrov’s $15 million and he has won just one high-profile match in 2018 in the Davis Cup in February.
There was a world of difference between the two men on a sun-kissed center court on Sunday in the first two sets.
But Safwat, one of seven lucky losers in the men’s draw, then overcame blisters on his right hand to put up a solid challenge in the third set before Dimitrov raced through the tiebreaker for a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) win.
Dimitrov next faces either Jared Donaldson of the United States or Chile’s Nicolas Jarry.
Dimitrov was stunned by Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in Dubai earlier this year, but he wasn’t in the mood to make the same mistake against another unheralded Arab opponent.
“I was warming up and my coach said, ‘hey look’ and we saw up on the board that I was playing a different opponent,” said 27-year-old Dimitrov, a former Wimbledon semifinalist who knew something of Safwat’s game from matches during their junior days.
“I didn’t expect that. I found out about 30 minutes before, but it is what it is. You have to be ready.”