Giniel De Villiers wins Dakar fifth stage, Peterhansel extends lead

Peterhansel increases lead on hazardous Dakar 5th stage. (Reuters)
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Peterhansel increases lead on hazardous Dakar 5th stage. (Reuters)
X-Raid Mini JCW Team's Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 5. (Reuters/File Photo)
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X-Raid Mini JCW Team's Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 5. (Reuters/File Photo)
Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Action from Stage 5 of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 January 2021

Giniel De Villiers wins Dakar fifth stage, Peterhansel extends lead

X-Raid Mini JCW Team's Stephane Peterhansel and Co-Driver Edouard Boulanger in action during stage 5. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • South African completed the 456km special in his Toyota in 5 hours, 9 minutes 25 seconds
  • “Mr Dakar,” a.k.a 13-time winner Stephane Peterhansel rounded out the podium

QAISUMAH, Saudi Arabia: South African Giniel De Villiers won Thursday’s grueling fifth stage of the Dakar Rally that left leading motorcyclist Kevin Benavides with a broken nose as he shattered his helmet jumping off a dune.

De Villiers completed the 456km special in his Toyota in 5 hours, 9 minutes 25 seconds, finishing 0.58 seconds ahead of compatriot Brian Baragwanath, who has picked up another podium finish this year following second place on the prologue.

“Mr Dakar,” a.k.a 13-time winner Stephane Peterhansel rounded out the podium, stretching his lead in the overall standings over Nasser Al-Attiyah to 6:11 after the Qatari finished fourth, 2:13 behind the Frenchman.

Defending champion Carlos Sainz is in third overall, 48:13 off the pace.

“Since the beginning things have not really been going our way, but today everything seemed to click,” De Villiers said, calling the day’s driving “a proper Dakar stage.”

“We took it a little bit calmer at the beginning just to make sure we got all the points. In some places the navigation was really, really difficult.

“We managed to do a good job today, so let's hope we can do a few more.”

Al-Attiyah reckoned he had lost up to nine minutes in a frantic opening to the stage.

“Stephane did a very good job because he stayed behind me all the way,” said Al-Attiyah, an Olympic skeet bronze medallist at the 2012 London Games.

“I'm quite happy to finish day five and tomorrow Stephane will open and it will be easier for me. We're taking it one day after another and we'll see where we are. Next week will also be very difficult.”

Peterhansel said the stage had been "really complicated... not really nice to drive.”

“At the end it was not beautiful landscape and not nice to drive, but it was selective, a really selective stage like it always is on the Dakar.”

In the motorbike category Benavides overcame a dramatic crash in the dunes that smashed his helmet and left him with a broken nose to win the stage, covering the 456km special in 5hr 09min 50sec.

A stage winner in the four previous Dakars, the Argentinian also leapfrogged Xavier De Soultrait by 2:31 to go top of the overall standings, having finished 7:55 ahead of the Frenchman in the stage.

“It was a really hard day for me,” said Benavides, whose bloodied nose was bandaged post-race.

“At the beginning I got lost like all the riders, but after that I started to push a lot.

“On one dune I jumped, a big jump, and I crashed because I hit another big one with the front wheel. I banged my head ... and broke the GPS and everything. I cut myself too and started to lose a lot of blood. There was also some pain around my ankle.”

Benavides pushed on, however, adding he was confident he could continue despite being in pain.

“I think I’ll be okay for tomorrow,” he said. “It was hard and there was a lot of pain today. But it’s like that, this is the Dakar.”


Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier

Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier

Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches. (Twitter: @cricketsaudi)
  • Men’s T20 World Cup will be held in Australia next October

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia beat Kuwait by four wickets in their Men's ICC T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Doha on Monday.

They won the toss and elected to field first, with Kuwait posting 146/8 in their 20 overs.

With a target of 147 set for a win, Saudi Arabia managed 149/6 with six balls remaining, with player of the match Sajid Cheema scoring 52 runs, having earlier taken two catches.

The Asia qualifiers in Qatar will determine which team progresses to next year’s Men’s ICC T20 World Cup taking place in Australia.

After two rounds of matches, Saudi Arabia now lead the five-team qualifying competition with a maximum of four points from two wins, followed by Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, who have two points each from a win and a loss. 

The Maldives are in last place with no points from two defeats. Saudi Arabia comfortably beat the Maldives in their first match by seven wickets, with 29 balls remaining.

The Maldives were 98/9, while the Saudis were 101/3 from 15.1 overs.

Saudi Arabia’s next match will be on Wednesday against hosts Qatar.


Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
Updated 25 October 2021

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi

Casper Ruud and Denis Shapovalov confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi
  • The two men join women’s US Open winner Emma Raducanu and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the line-up for the tournament

ABU DHABI: World No. 8 Casper Ruud and No. 13 Denis Shapovalov have been confirmed for the 2021 Mubadala World Tennis Championship taking place at the International Tennis Centre on December 16-18.

After a one-year absence due to the pandemic, the tournament will be held in the UAE capital for the 13th time with full capacity crowds.

Ruud, winner of the most ATP titles in 2021, and Shapovalov, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, are the first two male players to be confirmed for this year’s event.

The pair, both regarded as future Grand Slam champions, join women’s US Open winner Emma Raducanu and her opponent on day one, Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, in signing up to make their Abu Dhabi and tournament debuts. The remaining four players will be announced in the coming weeks.

“Announcing the players for the Championship is always a special moment and we have two special players in Casper and Denis,” said John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment, which is running the tournament. “Our goal is to bring the world’s best talent and build on the legacy of our championship and both players are the perfect fit.”

“They are young, supremely talented, have had successes this season and are great additions to the line-up alongside Emma and Belinda,” he said. “We are once again on track to bring the best-of-the-best from the world of tennis. Stay tuned for more announcements and rest assured the Championship is, as always, a must attend for all tennis fans.”

Norwegian ace Ruud is arguably the most improved player on the ATP tour this year, having won five tour titles in 2021, his latest victory coming at the San Diego Open earlier this October. It is a run that has made him the first Norwegian to break into the world’s top 10.

“I’ve had a great season this year and I’m excited to make my debut at this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship. I’m eager to keep improving next year, so Abu Dhabi in December provides a chance to play against the world’s best in preparation for another big season, while exploring a new destination and new cultures,” said Ruud.

Canadian star Shapovalov has also had an impressive year, achieving his best Grand Slam results in reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon. In 2020 he was one of only two Canadian men to achieve an ATP Top-10 ranking.

“It’s always nice to play in a new city and get the opportunity to see and do different things. I’m excited to come to Abu Dhabi to see all it has to offer, and I’ve heard great things about the venue so I’m looking forward to playing against the best in the world and putting on a show for the fans,” said Shapovalov.


Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season
Updated 25 October 2021

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season

Rosberg X Racing wins Island X Prix in Sardinia to take commanding lead in inaugural Extreme E season
  • The team established by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg has now won three of the four races in electric SUV series

SARDINIA: Rosberg X Racing made it three wins from four races by securing victory at the Enel X Island X Prix in Sardinia to build a commanding lead in the inaugural Extreme E championship season.

The race was the fourth in the first-ever electric SUV series, which launched in April with the Desert X Prix at AlUla. That was followed by the Ocean X Prix in Dakar, Senegal, at the end of May and the Arctic X Prix in Greenland in August. The fifth and final race will be the Jurassic X Prix in Dorset, the UK, in December.

RXR drivers Johan Kristoffersson and Molly Taylor kept their heads in difficult conditions to seal a dramatic victory in Sardinia — for the team established by former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg — ahead of ABT CUPRA XE, who secured their best result of the season in second.

“It was pretty slippery out there, so it was a bit difficult to judge at first,” Taylor said. “From that point it was just trying to manage the risk and I think that is what we did really well. Johan brought it home and again it was just an amazing effort by all of the team. We had a very challenging weekend from our side, but we never gave up and are very happy to be the winners here.”

There was heartbreak, however, for long-time leaders in the final SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing. Sara Price’s crash on the second lap caused terminal damage and meant she had to stop on the track, ensuring the team could only finish as high as fourth on their finals debut. That meant JBXE were able to secure their third podium finish in succession with third place despite also suffering damage out on the course.

Bad luck once again befell fastest qualifiers X44 in the final, as Sebastien Loeb was forced to stop out on track and retire with broken steering. Loeb was running in second behind SEGI TV’s Kyle LeDuc despite driving with a slow puncture at the time of the stoppage, which meant the team fell even further behind winners and championship leaders RXR in the standings.

“When I took over the car, we were in second place and were pretty isolated,” RXR’s Kristoffersson said. “We had Mattias (Ekstrom) behind, but I knew it was going to be tricky to do the overtake. Then I heard that Sara had suffered broken steering out in front so I tried to get the car back in one piece by not taking any big risks. I think in this final that Molly really did the best job and it feels great to bring it home.”

In treacherous conditions, four of the five teams were able to get off the start line cleanly, although ABT CUPRA XE were left with plenty of work to do after Jutta Kleinschmidt stalled on the grid. It looked like X44 had staged a remarkable comeback to lead into the first corner, but were beaten spectacularly by LeDuc, who managed to get in front after using the alternative route.

“I was so concentrated on the start to make it well and light and then I pushed the car and nothing happened. I said, ‘Oh shoot, what is going on,’” said Kleinschmidt. “Then I pushed it, but everybody was gone, so I had to try to come back, which worked very well. We so nearly made it ahead of RXR, but unfortunately then Mattias lost the door so he had to slow down to not let the water come in, because then maybe you have mud inside and then you don’t see anything anymore. Finally, though, we are on the podium so we are happy.”

Final Result

1 Rosberg X Racing (Molly Taylor / Johan Kristoffersson) 2 laps (11.42)

2 ABT Cupra XE (Jutta Kleinschmidt / Mattias Ekstrom) +24.58s

3 JBXE (Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky / Kevin Hansen) +1 lap

4 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price) +1 lap5

X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) +2 laps


Championship Standings

1 Rosberg X Racing (Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor) 129 points

2 X44 (Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez) 113 points

3 Andretti United Extreme E (Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings) 93 points

4 JBXE (Kevin Hansen / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky) 92 points

5 ABT CUPRA XE (Mattias Ekstrom / Jutta Kleinschmidt) 83 points

6 ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team (Carlos Sainz Snr. / Laia Sanz) 78 points

7 SEGI TV Chip Ganassi Racing (Kyle Leduc / Sara Price) 63 points8

8 Veloce Racing (Stephane Sarrazin / Emma Gilmour) 60 points

9 XITE ENERGY RACING (Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli Zonca) 55 points


Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament
Updated 25 October 2021

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament

Dubai Moonlight Classic returns to Faldo Course as world’s only day-to-night tournament
  • Top international female players will take part in action at Emirates Golf Club on Oct. 27-29

DUBAI: The Dubai Moonlight Classic by EGA will put some of the best female golfers in the world under the spotlight when they tee off on the Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club from Oct. 27to 29 in the only day-to-night tournament in world golf.

With the tournament free to enter for spectators, here are five reasons to watch the on-course action:

1. Sibling rivalry

Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn are in red-hot form this season, the pair winning the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in July thanks to an impressive fourball 59 on the final day.

Aside from the shared win, younger sibling Ariya also claimed victory in the Honda LPGA Thailand and posted seven top-10 finishes this year. The 25-year-old is also a two-time Major winner, while older sister Moriya, 27, has six top-10 finishes to her name this year.

2. Golfing greats

Even to those who know little to nothing about golf, Dame Laura Davies will need no introduction. With a staggering 85 professional wins, the Englishwoman is a bona fide golfing legend and one of the game’s all-time greats. What is more, she plays golf with a smile on her face.

Scottish golfing legend Catriona Matthew hit the headlines earlier this year when she successfully captained the European Team to a Solheim Cup title defense. The 15-13 win over the US team at the Inverness Club in the face of a partisan home support in Toledo, Ohio gave Team Europe back-to-back wins, and the 52-year-old ranks the result right up there with her 11 professional tournament wins.

3. The next generation

While Matthew and Davies have seen it all, Chiara Noja is at the other end of the spectrum. The 14-year-old, playing her second Dubai Moonlight Classic, officially turned professional on the eve of the tournament, marking a major milestone in what could well be a promising career.

The Dubai-based golfer could learn a thing or two from current Race to Costa del Sol leader, Atthaya Thitikul. Still only 18, the Thai sensation became the youngest ever golfer to win a professional tournament at the Ladies European Thailand Championship in 2017 where she triumphed aged just 14 years, four months, and 19 days old.

4. Indian inspiration

There is not one but two Indian Olympian stars in the field at this year’s event. Aditi Ashok, a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, narrowly missed out on a medal at this year’s Games as she finished fourth in Tokyo. The 23-year-old will be one to watch on the Faldo for sure; she finished tied sixth at last year’s Dubai Desert Classic just two strokes behind eventual winner Minjee Lee.

Compatriot and left-hander Diksha Dagar, who received a late entry to this year’s Games, is a two-time winner on the LET. The 20-year-old also represented India at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics where she secured a silver medal.

5. Race to the top

It is not just the coveted Dubai Moonlight Classic title that is up for grabs at the Faldo – the tournament also counts toward the Race to Costa del Sol, the season-long competition to crown the No. 1 player on the LET.

With a $290,000 bonus pool for the top three finishers, there is plenty at stake.  Current leader Thitikul will be looking to further consolidate her grip on this year’s title and hoping for a third tournament win this season, but the Thai sensation will be joined by nearest challengers Sanna Nuutinen, Stephanie Kyriacou, Pia Babnik, and Marianne Skarpnord as the entire top five and eight of the top 10 tee it up at the Faldo.


Babar, Rizwan star as Pakistan break India jinx with rout

Babar, Rizwan star as Pakistan break India jinx with rout
Updated 24 October 2021

Babar, Rizwan star as Pakistan break India jinx with rout

Babar, Rizwan star as Pakistan break India jinx with rout
  • Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan take apart the Indian bowling

DUBAI: Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed unbeaten half-centuries as Pakistan crushed India by 10 wickets on Sunday to register their first win over their arch-rivals in a Twenty20 World Cup.
Chasing 152 for victory, Babar (68) and Rizwan (79) took apart the Indian bowling as they steered their team home with 13 balls to spare in Dubai.
Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi set up victory — their first over their neighbors in six attempts in the tournament — with figures of 3-31 that restricted India to 151-7 despite a valiant 57 from skipper Virat Kohli.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten India and I feel proud,” said Afridi.
“I knew it would be good for us if I got early wickets and that worked out. My idea was to get as much swing as possible.
“You don’t get a lot here, but I wanted to get those breakthroughs and gave it 100 percent. In my opinion the new ball was difficult to play, so credit goes to Babar and Rizwan.”
In the immediate aftermath of the victory, celebratory gunfire erupted in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Karachi.
Babar and Riwan went on the attack from the start with boundaries inside the powerplay — the first six overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle — to set the tone for their chase.
The dew did not help the Indian bowlers who regularly wiped the moisture off the ball with their towels while the openers kept the score ticking and got the occasional fours and sixes.
The batting pair kept up the charge as Babar reached his fifty with a six off spinner Varun Chakravarthy to get the Pakistan supporters dancing with joy.
Rizwan raised his fifty with a boundary off pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah and then raced past his captain, hitting six fours and three sixes in his 55-ball knock.
Babar hit the winning runs to turn a new page in Pakistan-India rivalry.
“We did not execute the things that we wanted to but credit is certainly due — they outplayed us today,” admitted Kohli.
“They were very professional with the bat as well but we’re certainly not a team that presses the panic button, it’s the start of the tournament, not the end.”
Earlier Afridi returned figures of 3-31 after a lethal first spell to hurt India who elected to field first in the Super 12s encounter watched by 20,000 in the stadium and a global TV audience of hundreds of millions of fans.
Kohli scored his 29th T20 fifty to help the team rebuild before being caught behind off Afridi as Pakistan dismissed the star batsman for the first time in a T20 World Cup game.
Afridi struck the first blow with an express delivery that swung in to trap Rohit Sharma lbw for a first ball duck.
Kohli walked in amid raucous applause from the Indian fans who were soon silenced by another ripper from Afridi in his second over.
The 1.98 meter bowler got KL Rahul with a delivery that came in sharply to take the batsman’s thigh pad and rattle the stumps.
Kohli and new batter, Suryakumar Yadav attempted to hit back with some positive shots as they smashed Afridi for a six each.
Wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan then pulled off a superb diving catch to cut short Yadav’s stay at the wicket with quick bowler Hasan Ali striking in his first over. Yadav made 11.
Rishabh Pant joined Kohli in the middle and the left-right batting pair rebuilt the innings and took India to 60-3 at the end of 10 overs.
Pant, a wicketkeeper-batsman who survived a close caught behind call off one of his attempted reverse sweeps, kept up the charge with adventurous strokeplay.
He hit Ali for two successive sixes but finally fell to Shadab Khan’s leg spin in the next over, top-edging a ball that went high and into the hands of the bowler.
Pant made 39 off 30 balls. Kohli stood firm to soak up the pressure to get to his 50 in 45 balls.