Tuesday 17 October 2017

In brief: Three deaths mar Dakar Rally stage

Dakar Rally claimed the life of motorcyclist Eric Palante and two spectators
Dakar Rally claimed the life of motorcyclist Eric Palante and two spectators

MOTORSPORT

Three deaths overshadowed yesterday's sixth leg of the Dakar Rally in Argentina, as the race claimed the life of Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante and two spectators.

Organisers said they went out looking for Palante (50) after he failed to finish the fifth stage, which most riders completed on Thursday, and found his body along the route. The cause of death is being investigated, and officials offered few details.

Police said two people following the race died on Thursday when their vehicle overturned.

The Dakar, raced over rugged terrain in difficult-to-control areas, often produces fatalities. Last year, French motorcyclist Thomas Bourgin was killed in a collision with a Chilean police car. Two fans also died in a collision between a support vehicle and two taxis.

Nani Roma kept the overall lead in cars despite finishing sixth in the stage, and fellow Spaniard Marc Coma stayed on top in bikes after taking second on the stage from Tucuman to Salta.

Tennis

Andy Murray was drawn against Japan's Go Soeda in the first round of the Australian Open but it was the pairing of world No 1 Rafael Nadal with mercurial home hope Bernard Tomic that really captured the imagination.

Soeda is a 29-year-old ranked 112th in the world and should not present any real problems to Murray, who has recently returned from a long injury lay-off.

The draw is markedly top heavy and, after John Isner in the fourth round, Murray could find himself having to beat Roger Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic if he is to lift a third Grand Slam title.

Second seed Djokovic, who has won the title for the last three years, will play Slovakia's Lukas Lacko in the first round, while sixth seed Federer meets Australian wild card James Duckworth.

There was also an enticing match-up in the women's draw, with world No 1 Serena Williams playing 17-year-old Australian wild card Ashleigh Barty, who reached two Grand Slam doubles finals last year and is ranked 153rd in singles, having won the Junior Wimbledon title in 2011.

Play is due to begin at Melbourne Park on Monday but the weather could cause delays, with projected temperatures of more than 40C.

Cricket

Kevin Pietersen's future was thrust even further into the spotlight as the Delhi Daredevils took the surprising move to not retain any of their players.

The England batsman had widely been expected to be retained by the Indian Premier League franchise yesterday.

But a tweet from Delhi turned that on its head, with the club saying: "DD will not be retaining any player from the previous squad for IPL-7.

"It was a unanimous decision by the management in order to build a fresh team that our fans will be proud of."

Irish Independent

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