Dovizioso pips Marquez to win Austrian MotoGP

Mission Winnow Ducati’s Italian rider Andrea Dovizioso celebrates his victory. (AFP)
Updated 12 August 2019

Dovizioso pips Marquez to win Austrian MotoGP

SPIELBERG: Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso won the Austrian MotoGP on Sunday to slightly close the gap between him and runaway championship leader Marc Marquez.

Italian Dovizioso is still 58 points behind five-time world champion Marquez despite pipping the Honda rider on the final lap to gain his first race win since the season opener in Qatar.

“I didn’t think I could overtake on the last corner but it was the last one and I absolutely had to try,” Dovizioso, 33, said.

“I felt incredibly strong at that point and sometimes you have to try something crazy.”

Marquez, who is yet to win in Austria during his illustrious career, praised Dovizioso’s performance.

“I’m happy because I finished second, of course we missed the last corner but I was sliding a lot on the rear tire,” Marquez told broadcaster BT Sport.

“Dovi did an incredible job and at the moment we are leading by 58 points, so we have to continue on the same way.”

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo completed the podium and Australian Jack Miller was one of four riders who fell during the race.

Seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi was fourth, his best result since finishing second in the US in April, but he is a whopping 127 points behind Marquez ahead of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 25.

Earlier on Sunday South African Brad Binder celebrated his 24th birthday in style with success in the Moto2.

The KTM rider was all smiles after ending a winless spell stretching back to Australia in October last year.

“I can’t imagine a better day than winning on my birthday at KTM’s home track,” the 2016 Moto3 champion beamed.

Binder crossed the line with a 0.330sec advantage over Alex Marquez, who moved on to 181 points at the top of the Moto2 championships standings, a lead of 43 points over Thomas Luthi.

Binder’s success came just after Austrian manufacturer KTM had announced they were withdrawing from the Moto2 championship at the end of this season to plow all their resources into MotoGP in an initial five-year deal.

That will suit Binder, who is graduating to the premier category in 2020.

Marquez’ second place on the podium was hard earned.

The brother of MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez had started from 11th on the grid but managed to avoid a series of crashes that eliminated Japan’s pole sitter Tetsuta Nagashima, Spain’s Xavi Vierge, Australian Remy Gardner and Italian duo Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini.


Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Updated 20 August 2019

Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star eyes path to Tokyo 2020 Olympics

  • Dalma Malhas ‘honored’ to be part of national team
  • Equestrian star began riding aged four

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s showjumping star Dalma Malhas is counting down to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics by competing in a series of crucial qualifying events.

Malhas, who has been riding since the age of four, told Arab News that she was honored to be part of the Saudi national team after “years of work and dedication.”

Next month she and her fellow showjumpers head to Morocco to take part in a series of qualifying events.

The 10th edition of the Morocco Royal Tour takes place in three cities — Tetouan, Rabat, and Eljadida —  on three consecutive weekends. The top two teams, based on their results, will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Malhas wants to be at the prestigious sporting event in Japan. 

“The work that has been done in the past few years will manifest itself now and I’m enjoying what I’ve been working on ... I believe in destiny and hard work,” she told Arab News. “Anything could happen, but I’m hopeful and trying to focus on peak performance because it is important that, when it comes to the horse and myself, we want to be there, energetic and motivated.”

She was the first female athlete from the Kingdom to compete at an Olympic-level event, riding at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore and winning a bronze medal. She participated in the 14-18 age group, becoming only the third Saudi athlete to snag an Olympic medal.

She said it was easy to buy a horse that was already trained and compete with it. But the challenge for her was to get an inexperienced horse and train him from scratch.

“I dedicated time, effort and energy. I had a vision of how he could be and transformed him into a skilled and talented horse, and step-by-step I followed that. You build a strong partnership when you go through that process. It’s an affinity you can’t really buy. This is a very big part of horsemanship and one of my biggest achievements since the Youth Olympic Games. It’s priceless, having a combination and partnership like this.”

Malhas was born in 1992 in the US. Her mother, Arwa Mutabagani, is a prominent equestrian and has been a board member at the Saudi Equestrian Federation since 2008. She was also the first woman to be appointed to the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

Malhas has had a thoroughly international upbringing. At 12 she moved with her mother from Saudi Arabia to Rome to train with her under Italy’s former showjumping national coach, Duccio Bartalucci, spending a decade under his tutelage.

After studying and training in Italy she joined a two-year professional program at the Forsan Equestrian Center in Chantilly, France. She has been training with Olympic champion Roger Yves Bost since 2016. 

She started 2019 by participating in several tournaments, crisscrossing Europe and gradually moving up the leaderboard. 

She has won several awards to date, including Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, and can be regarded as a pioneer and role model.

Malhas said there were great opportunities for Saudi women in the fields of sports and equestrianism. She talked about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and how it empowered women. She also saw an opportunity to become more involved. 

“I want to give back too. I’ve been mostly focused on showjumping and training, so hopefully I’ll start giving back and contribute to society and motivate my peers in the country. I don’t mind though I’ve been enjoying the ride and after years of work I’m finally being rewarded in the best way possible.”