Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
1 / 5
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and co-driver Matthieu Baumel celebrate their fourth FIA World Cup title, as a team, after three successive wins between 2015 and 2017. (AN Photo)
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
2 / 5
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah competes in the Hail Cross-Country Rally. (AN Photo)
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
3 / 5
Jakub Przygonski competes in the Hail Cross-Country Rally. (AN Photo)
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
4 / 5
Michal Goczal competes in the Hail Cross-Country Rally. (AN Photo)
Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
5 / 5
Dania Akeel competes in the Hail Cross-Country Rally. (AN Photo)
Short Url
Updated 11 December 2021

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail

Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah seals fifth FIA World Cup title with victory in Hail
  • Qatari champion Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah sets sights on winning next year’s Dakar Rally
  • Al-Attiyah: It was a good last stage and completely different to the first three – it was all gravel through the mountains

HAIL: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah set the fastest time on the short final stage of the Hail Cross-Country Rally to secure a fifth FIA World Cup Drivers’ Championship title in emphatic style on Saturday.

Mathematically, the Qatari had won the title after recording two stage wins earlier in the event, but he and French co-driver Matthieu Baumel pressed on regardless in their Toyota Hilux to record three stage wins and a winning margin of 21 minutes, 51 seconds over the Russian duo of Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov. The success also marked their fourth FIA World Cup title together after three successive wins between 2015 and 2017.

Al-Attiyah said: “It was a good last stage and completely different to the first three. It was all gravel through the mountains. It was fantastic and we are obviously very happy with the result. I am so happy to win this race and to win the World Cup title. It was a great win. This was the last time for me in this car. The next step will be the T1+ in Dakar!”

Argentina’s Sebastien Halpern managed to best Vladimir Vasilyev on the final stage to snatch the last place on the podium in the second of the X-raid Mini Buggies. Fellow countryman Lucio Alvarez may have missed out on the Drivers’ title to Al-Attiyah, but his consolation was the third fastest time on the last stage, fifth overall and the runner-up spot in the championship in his Overdrive Racing Toyota.

Poland’s Jakub Przygonski was second quickest on the 148-kilometer final section, but a drive shaft issue had cost the Mini Buggy driver a potential podium finish on Friday and he finished in sixth place. Spaniard Laia Sanz brought her Mini home in a fine eighth overall, as she prepares for the forthcoming Dakar Rally with the X-raid team.

Martin Prokop used the event to shakedown his new Ford Raptor Cross-Country, alongside Frenchman Ronan Chabot and Argentina’s Juan Cruz Yacopini in a pair of Toyota Hilux T1+ machines run by Overdrive Racing. None of the three crews were eligible for FIA points, but Prokop set stage times worthy of seventh in the overall standings.

Michal Goczal bounced back from gearbox issues that cost him a potential win in the T4 section to set the fastest time on the final stage in his Can-Am. He beat his brother Marek by 2 minutes, 56 seconds, but it was his fellow Pole who claimed the win and a fine seventh in the overall classification.

Australia’s Molly Taylor finished second in T4, 31 minutes, 55 seconds adrift, and Dubai-based Briton Thomas Bell, Ukraine’s Ievgen Kovalevych and Michal Goczal were third, fourth and fifth.

Pavel Lebedev missed two days of the rally after a first day crash that damaged his Can-Am’s suspension but, as per the regulations, he was able to tackle the final day and managed to win the T3 stage by 4 minutes, 54 seconds from overall category winner Saleh Al-Saif.

The Saudi recorded a winning margin of 47 minutes, 24 seconds over Mashael Al-Obaidan. Annett Fischer rounded off the podium places in her X-Raid/South Racing Can-Am and the Saudi female duo of Dania Akeel and Esraa Aldkheil were fourth and fifth.

“I am so happy to finish the Hail Rally,” said Akeel. “The whole stage today was flat and fast. I love going fast. I enjoy the dunes but today was so much fun. It was hard to pass cars in the dust but I took no risks. The whole week has been incredible and great experience for me.”

Ahmed Al-Jaber claimed the final motorcycle stage win by beating Abdullah Lanjawi by 1 minutes, 56 seconds but the outright victory went to Mishal Al-Ghuneim. Problems for Othman Al-Ghfeli cost the Saudi around 15 minutes on the last test and that dropped him behind his rival, with the pair separated by just 13 seconds at the finish.

Al-Jaber filled the last step of the podium, with Abdulhalim Al-Mogheera and Lanjawi rounding off the top five.

Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi sealed the quad win with another stage success on his Yamaha, the multiple Hail winner adding another success to his tally. His winning margin over Haitham Al-Tuwaijri was 1 hour, 56 minutes and 32 seconds, with Hani Al-Noumesi coming home in third.

Two-time Hail Rally winner Essa Al-Dossary comfortably won the last stage of the National/Open category in his Nissan Navara, but outright victory in the event went to Aliyyah Koloc, with Al-Mashna Al-Shammeri incurring time penalties and dropping to second place. Saeed Al-Mouri finished third in his Can-Am Maverick.

Japan’s Teruhito Sugawara (Hino) sealed the win in the Truck category with the fastest time on the final stage. Teo Calvet lost the outright lead on day three and Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Al-Muhanna was able to snatch second place in his Mercedes Unimog.


‘Brave’ new England try to shake up Test cricket

‘Brave’ new England try to shake up Test cricket
Updated 06 July 2022

‘Brave’ new England try to shake up Test cricket

‘Brave’ new England try to shake up Test cricket
  • Arguably the greatest revelation about England’s latest run-chase was how they attacked it from the start

BIRMINGHAM: Everything you know about Test cricket is wrong.

Well that might be the conclusion of some fans who watched a resurgent England make light of a chase of 378 in the Covid-delayed fifth Test against India.

It was the latest example of ‘Bazball’ in action, with a seven-wicket win in Birmingham England’s fourth successful chase in as many Tests under a new leadership duo of coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes following a 3-0 whitewash of Test world champions New Zealand.

That series saw England chase down seemingly stiff targets of 277, 299 and 296.

No England side, however, had previously made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than 359, when Stokes’ brilliant century secured a thrilling victory over Australia at Headingley three years ago.

But with Joe Root (142 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (114 not out) sharing an unbroken partnership of 269, that mark was overhauled with ease at Edgbaston as England ended a five-match series all square at 2-2.

Yet as well as former England captain Root and Bairstow batted, they are in-form and experienced internationals.

Arguably the greatest revelation about England’s latest run-chase was how they attacked it from the start, with Alex Lees and Zak Crawley, both of whom had been struggling for runs, sharing a century opening stand in 19.5 overs — the fastest in England Test history.

Stokes said England’s approach was down to a change in attitude from a team that had won just one of its 17 previous Tests prior to the New Zealand series.

“When you’ve got real clarity in what you want to achieve as a team and how you want to play it makes things a lot easier,” said Stokes.

“We know what we were going to do — we knew we were always going to go out and try and chase that down from the get-go.

“A great way to explain is that teams are perhaps better than us, but teams won’t be braver than us.

“(England spinner) Jack Leach said that to me and it is a great way to sum things up at the moment,” the all-rounder added.

Scoring runs quickly in Test cricket is nothing new.

A celebrated West Indies team once chased down a target of 342 inside a day to beat England by nine wickets at Lord’s, with opener Gordon Greenidge making an unbeaten double century.

And the successful Australia teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s looked to score at a rate of four per over in order to give their bowlers as much time as possible to take the 20 wickets needed to win a Test.

But on Tuesday, England were scoring at a rate of nearly five an over, with the way Root reverse scooped medium-pacer Shardul Thakur for six a sign of how T20 shot-making, unknown to previous generations, is influencing the longer game.

Former New Zealand captain McCullum was credited for being the inspiration behind England’s rise from white-ball no-hopers to 2019 50-over World Cup winners and England clearly hope he will have a similar effect now he is directly involved with the Test side.

Four matches is a small sample size, however, and had Rishabh Pant stayed in for just a little longer in India’s second innings, Stokes may have been granted a wish where he “almost wanted them to get 450 (ahead), to see what we did.”

India coach Rahul Dravid, one of the best batsmen of his era, was impressed by England but said the way Pant had scored a typically dynamic 146, in a first innings where Ravindra Jadeja also made a hundred, proved Stokes’ side did not have a copyright on attacking play.

“When your players are doing well, are in good form, then you can play really positively, can take the game forward,” said Dravid.

“We also showed when Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja were playing in the first innings — we played pretty positive cricket.

“But when two positive players or attacking players are in good form, and can play such a big innings, and that happens in three to four matches continuously it looks good for cricket and also for them.”


Costa Rica down Panama 3-0 at the CONCACAF W Championship

Costa Rica down Panama 3-0 at the CONCACAF W Championship
Updated 06 July 2022

Costa Rica down Panama 3-0 at the CONCACAF W Championship

Costa Rica down Panama 3-0 at the CONCACAF W Championship
  • The tournament serves as qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand

MONTERREY, Mexico: Rocky Rodriguez and Maria Paula Salas scored in the opening half and Costa Rica went on to win their opening group-stage match 3-0 over Panama on Tuesday night in the CONCACAF W Championship.

The tournament serves as qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Rodriguez, who plays for the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League, scored on a header in the sixth minute. Salas scored in the 24th.

Katherine Alvarado converted a penalty for Costa Rica in the 60th minute.

Costa Rica and Panama are in Group B with Canada and Trinidad & Tobago, who play in the late game.

Eight teams have been divided into two groups for the tournament. The top two finishers in each group earn spots in the 2023 World Cup. The third-place finishers will go on to a 10-team intercontinental playoff in February in New Zealand.

The winner of the tournament will also earn one of the region’s spots in the 2024 Olympics.

Costa Rica have been to the World Cup just once before, in 2015. Panama has never qualified for international soccer’s most prestigious event.

The US, Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti are in Group A.


Tiger Woods looking at British Open as historic occasion

Tiger Woods looking at British Open as historic occasion
Updated 06 July 2022

Tiger Woods looking at British Open as historic occasion

Tiger Woods looking at British Open as historic occasion
  • Woods won in 2000 by eight shots to complete the career Grand Slam at age 24
  • He won again in 2005 to complete a different kind of slam

NEW YORK: The British Open is scheduled for Royal Liverpool, Royal Troon and Royal Portrush over the next three years. The Old Course at St. Andrews typically is used every five years.

That adds to the perspective of Tiger Woods playing this year.

When he said Tuesday that “this is a pretty historic Open,” Woods just as well could have been talking about himself as the 150th anniversary of golf’s oldest championship.

“I’m lucky enough to be part of the past champions that have won there, and want to play there again, and I don’t know when they are ever going to go back while I’m still able to play at a high level,” Woods said at the J.P. McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. “I want to be able to give it at least one more run at a high level.”

Woods won in 2000 by eight shots to complete the career Grand Slam at age 24. He won again in 2005 to complete a different kind of slam. Each time Jack Nicklaus played a major for the last time, Woods won.

He is 46 and still walking gingerly at times from his right leg and ankle being pieced back together following his February 2021 car crash outside of Los Angeles.

Woods returned to play the Masters and PGA Championship, both times making the cut, though he withdrew after the third round at Southern Hills. He skipped the US Open, though not necessarily by choice.

“The plan was to play the US Open, but physically I was not able to do that,” Woods said at Adare Manor. “There’s no way physically I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg and it would have put this tournament in jeopardy, and so there’s no reason to do that.”

That he is even playing is remarkable considering the nature of his injuries, particularly the threat of having part of his leg amputated, which doctors were able to avoid.

He has no idea how much longer he can play, or at least compete. Woods is unlikely to tee it up after the British Open until December, either at his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas or what has become his fifth major, the PNC Championship with son Charlie.

“If you asked me last year whether I would play golf again, all of my surgeons would have said, ‘No,’” Woods said. “Now if you say, ‘Play at a championship level,’ well, that window is definitely not as long as I would like it to be.”

OPEN RAILING

The grand celebration of the 150th anniversary of the British Open coincides with a dispute between ScotRail and ASLEF, the union for train drivers.

As a result, the R&A has contacted ticket holders to advise they travel to the Old Course by road or alternative public transport. Nearly 300,000 spectators are expect for the British Open next week.

ScotRail has limited service because of the dispute. It said trains between Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen to Leuchars — the closest station to St. Andrews — would run every hour on tournament days.

The R&A said it will increase capacity at park-and-ride facilities to cope with more cars. Travel time to the Old Course is likely to take a lot longer.

“Due to circumstances out of our control, we have no choice but to urge fans to not travel by rail to The Open and to use alternative means of transport to get to and from St. Andrews next week,” said Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director of championship at the R&A. “There is a risk that fans who travel by train may find there are no services to get them home.”


Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United

Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United
Updated 06 July 2022

Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United

Malacia becomes Ten Hag’s first signing at Man United
  • Ten Hag’s recruitment drive is starting to gather pace, with Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen reportedly agreeing to join United on a free transfer after his impressive loan spell at Brentford last season

LONDON: Manchester United completed their swoop for Feyenoord defender Tyrell Malacia on Tuesday as Erik ten Hag made his first signing since taking charge at Old Trafford.

United landed Malacia in a reported £12.95 million ($15.4 million) deal after making a late move for the Netherlands fullback, who had been close to joining French club Lyon.

The 22-year-old has agreed a four-year contract with the option of a further 12 months.

It is a landmark deal for Ten Hag, who had been linked with a host of potential signings before finally making Malacia the first acquisition of his United reign.

Ten Hag arrived at United in May after finishing his successful spell at Ajax, where he had plenty of opportunities to see Malacia’s quality with Dutch rivals Feyenoord.

Malacia, who made 136 appearances for Feyenoord, said: “It’s an incredible feeling to have joined Manchester United. This is a new chapter for me, a new league with new team-mates and a tremendous manager leading us.

“I know from playing against his teams in the Eredivisie, the qualities that he has and what he demands of his players.

“While I know that I am still young and will continue to develop, I can promise the United fans that I will leave everything on the pitch every time I pull on the red shirt.”

Malacia, who plays largely at leftback, is expected to be part of the United squad that leaves for the pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia on Friday.

“I’ll always be thankful to Feyenoord for all they have given to me and my family. None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for them,” Malacia said.

“Now I’m ready to focus on the future with United, and help my new club achieve success.”

Capped five times by the Netherlands, Malacia is likely to compete with England leftback Luke Shaw for a place in United’s starting lineup.

“Tyrell is an exciting, dynamic young footballer with excellent experience for his age, including five seasons in the Eredivisie, a European final and full international honors for the Netherlands,” United football director John Murtough said.

“We look forward to seeing him continue to develop under the guidance of Erik ten Hag and his coaching team in the years ahead.”

Ten Hag’s recruitment drive is starting to gather pace, with Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen reportedly agreeing to join United on a free transfer after his impressive loan spell at Brentford last season.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez have also been linked with moves to Old Trafford.

As well as overhauling a squad that finished a disappointing sixth in the Premier League last season, Ten Hag must resolve the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo missed training for “family reasons” on Monday after reportedly asking for a transfer following United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.

United are said to be determined to hold onto the Portugal striker, who finished as their top scorer last season.


Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead

Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead
Updated 06 July 2022

Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead

Van Aert wins stage 4 in style and extends Tour overall lead
  • The 27-year-old Van Aert is considered one of the best multi-skilled riders in the world and is a former three-time cyclo-cross world champion and a one-day classics specialist

CALAIS, France: Belgian rider Wout van Aert won the hilly fourth stage of the Tour de France and extended his overall lead after attacking strongly on the day’s final climb on Tuesday.

The Belgian rider kept the leader’s yellow jersey for the Jumbo–Visma team after taking it for the first time on Saturday. He also extended his lead in the green jersey contest for best sprinter.

Van Aert shook up the peloton when he surged ahead up the last of the five climbs — a 900-meter ascent up Cote du Cap Blanc-Nez at a gradient of 7.5  percent — about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the end.

The 27-year-old Van Aert is considered one of the best multi-skilled riders in the world and is a former three-time cyclo-cross world champion and a one-day classics specialist.

The Jumbo-Visma rider flapped his hands like a bird’s wings as he sat up on his bike. He crossed the line eight seconds clear of countryman Jasper Philipsen of the Alpecin–Fenix team, with Jumbo-Visma teammate Christophe Laporte taking third place in a sprint finish.

Van Aert picked up a 10-second time bonus and is now 25 seconds ahead of Yves Lampaert in the overall standings and 32 seconds clear of two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar.

Pogacar’s rival Primoz Roglic, the 2020 Tour runner-up and Van Aert’s teammate, stayed seventh overall and remained nine seconds behind Pogacar, with both finishing in the main pack.

After a travel day, riders tackled a sunny 171.5-kilometer (106.3-mile) route from the coastal city of Dunkirk to Calais, where riders could see the English coastline when they arrived into the much-used port location. Van Aert completed it in 4 hours, 1 minute, 36 seconds.

Danish rider Magnus Cort, who thrilled crowds with his breakaway rides during three intense days in Denmark, was again in the early breakaway — this time alongside Anthony Perez.

Perez pulled ahead some 45 kilometers (28 miles) out and Cort was caught by the peloton shortly after. Cort picked up more points in the polka-dot jersey bid but much more difficult climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees are still to come.

Wednesday’s fifth stage is a flat stage for sprinters over 157 kilometers (97 miles) starting at Lille Metropole and going over some of the feared cobblestones that feature on the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic.

The race ends on July 24 in Paris.