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Vettel defends title chances

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Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. Picture: REUTERS/Brandon Malone

Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. Picture: REUTERS/Brandon Malone

Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. Picture: REUTERS/Brandon Malone

F1: Following a wretched pre-season of testing in which the new Red Bull often ground to a halt, the odds are on Vettel failing to even cross the line in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, never mind stretching his winning streak to 10 races after taking the chequered flag in the final nine of last year.

The Milton Keynes-based team encountered a raft of problems with the RB10 that has placed them firmly on the back foot going into the race around Melbourne's Albert Park.

But Vettel said: "That's unfair to say. Our season testing, our preparation hasn't been ideal, and we're not in the best position for this race. But it's a different story for the championship because there is a long way to go."

STRONG START FOR SIEM IN MOROCCO

GOLF: Germany's Marcel Siem showed no signs of the neck injury which had threatened his title defence as he made a stunning start to the Hassan Trophy in Morocco.

Siem, who enjoyed victory at Golf du Palais Royal last year, suffered the injury on his flight to Agadir and was advised to pull out of the pre-tournament pro-am on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old said he was prepared to play through the pain barrier to try to claim a fourth European Tour title and soon found himself in contention to do just that thanks to five birdies in his first six holes today.

CAVENDISH LEADS

CYCLING: Mark Cavendish leads the Tirreno-Adriatico after his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team won a time trial to open the week-long race yesterday.

Omega clocked 20 minutes, 13 seconds over the flat 11.5-mile route from Donoratico to San Vincenzo. It was an identical start from last year, when British sprinter Cavendish also took the lead with an Omega win.

"The team is stronger than last year," Cavendish said.

IRISH FINISH IN STYLE

CRICKET: It was a case of better late than never for Ireland as they finished with a flourish to win their World Twenty20 warm-up game against Nepal.

Having lost the toss and been put in, Nepal made 137 for seven in their 20 overs with Andy McBrine, Kevin O'Brien and George Dockrell each taking two wickets. Captain William Porterfield (38) and Andrew Poynter (28) had Ireland going well at 78 for two, but they slumped to 102 for five before Gary Wilson and Stuart Thompson saw them to 141 for five and a five-wicket victory.


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