Sunday 18 February 2018

Breen's brilliance keeps him in mix


Craig Breen made a blistering start at the World Rally Championship in France yesterday as he fights for the Academy title with Estonian Egon Kaur. Going into this weekend's event, Kaur had a 26-point lead over Breen with two events left, leaving the Waterford native needing a win to have a hope of a winner-takes-all shoot-out at Rally Great Britain.

Breen started cautiously on Stage 1 yesterday, finishing ninth, but found his speed on Stage 2 with a fastest time to take the overall lead. The 21-year-old went on to win the next two stages to lead by 26.3 seconds from Spaniard Yerey Lemes with Breen's title rival, Kaur, 10 mins and 26 secs back.

Breen won the fifth stage, increasing his lead to over 30secs. However, on Stage 6 he had a puncture with 6k left, which cut his lead to 18.2 secs. Breen finished on a high however, winning the last two stages to hold a lead of 24.6secs over Yerey Lemes, with Kaur 30mins and 11secs behind.

Pedrosa finishes top with Stoner on brink

Dani Pedrosa finished top after day one of practice at the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner as Repsol Honda riders filled the top three places in Motegi.

Following Pedrosa and Stoner was Andrea Dovizioso after the second free practice while defending champion Jorge Lorenzo was fifth. Stoner is on the brink of becoming double world champion, with a 44-point lead over Lorenzo.

Sorensen back on court in Belgium


Louk Sorensen has dispelled fears he might have retired for the second time this year after taking a four-week break from tournament action.

Sorensen has not struck a ball in competitive fare since the initial stage of the Brasov Open in Romania on September 5. But he will be chasing world ranking points in the second-tier ATP Challenger Tour event in Mons, Belgium, where he must win three matches today and tomorrow to secure a place in the main draw which gets under way on Monday.

Elsewhere, top seeds Dubliner James Cluskey and South Africa's Jean Andersen captured the doubles title in the ITF Men's Futures in Forbach, France by edging Germany's Sebastian Fitz and Russia's Vitaliy Kachanovskiy, 5-7 6-1 10/3 (champions' tie-break) in yesterday's final.

Murray strolls into Thai quarter-finals

Andy Murray eased into the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open in Bangkok yesterday with a routine straight-sets win over Germany's Michael Berrer, 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have withdrawn from the China Open that starts today due to injury.

Irish Independent

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