Monthly Archives: July 2010
German Grand Prix
F1 is once again on the rocks, Ferrari in alleged team orders allowing Fernando Alonso to win. But this isn’t about the big teams, all I care about is those plucky little new teams who have visited Hockenheim for the first time.
The rain affected first practice session saw some mixed up results, with Timo Glock finishing 12th quickest and Kovalainen in 15th. For qualifying it was issues for Virgin Racing however, Lucas di Grassi was unable to set a time and Timo Glock ended up with a ten place grid penalty for changing his gearbox. Jarno Trulli was quickest by a huge margin, and close too the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguesuari.
It was a bad start for Trulli though, suffering from a lack of 2nd gear saw him retire on lap 6. Sakon Yamamoto, who had replaced championship challenger Karun Chandhok for this race, lost a lot of time at the start, after he started with his pit lane limiter on.
Yamamoto didn’t last too long though, retiring on lap 21 for some reason. And it looked like a comfortable Kovalainen win too but he retired close to the end after hitting Pedro de la Rosa who was lapping him at the time. Lucas di Grassi retired after sliding off.
Only two drivers finished, interestingly nobody in the top 4 of the championship. Timo Glock finishing ahead of Bruno Senna. Making it the fewest amount of points awarded since Monaco, after a good run of form having only one car retiring.
|1||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||18th||10|
|4||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||Ret.||0|
Very little has changed in the standings after Germany. Kovalainen’s retirement and Chandhok’s lack of race seat sees the gap remain at one point. Timo Glock’s win sees him move up level on points to his team mate Lucas di Grassi and just three points behind Trulli. Senna moves closer to 4th with his six points but is safely in 6th. Yamamoto is stuck with the two points.
|4||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||34|
|Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||34|
A great weekend for Virgin sees them move in front of Hispania for the first time this season. The two also start to close the big gap to Lotus and the poor reliability of the green cars sees the gap down to just 15 points.
It is the Hungarian Grand Prix in a weeks time and at the time of writing it is likely that Sakon Yamamoto will replace Karun Chandhok for another race, with Bruno Senna alongside. If Kovalainen ever has a greater chance of extending his lead it will be then. Reports are saying that we could even be seeing Christian Klien at one point too. The other teams look safe at least.
It was so very close. The lovable Tom Watson just one putt away from being the most popular winner of the Open Championship. It was achievable, it was possible. And yet, it went wide, a playoff with Stewart Cink in which he lost. It was heartbreaking.
The miss can be shared in the same light as several other famous Open Championship moments, including the conclusion of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie. Jean van de Velde was five shots clear at the end of the third round and a three shot lead going into the 18th, the final hole. A series of bad luck, a shot into the rough, a shot that hit the grandstand into deep rough, a shot that went into the water, a drop shot, a shot that went into the bunker, a shot that went out of the bunker and a putt to finish the hole in seven. Forcing a play off with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie, local hero Lawrie went onto win.
The moments of tension, drama sum up the Open Championship brilliantly. There simply isn’t another tournament like it in golf, guaranteed to keep you hooked till the very last shot on the 18th.
The 18th at St. Andrews, the oldest golf course in the world. The home of golf.
There simply can be no substitutes, this is the best in the world. Everyone who has ever played golf will have wanted to win at this course in the Open, no matter who they are or where they come from. Famous holes, the 17th, over the railway sheds, trying to avoid the road hole bunkers. Fantastic.
Troubled Tiger Woods has won the last two at St. Andrews, a course he has described as his favourite. It is easy to see why, winning by eight at –19 under par in 2000 and in 2005 he was equally supreme, winning by five at –14. He was never off the top of the board. Before him was the also troubled John Daly in 1995 and Sir Nick Faldo in 1990, the last British born golfer to win the Open at St. Andrews.
It is a hot topic as the British golfers have especially underperformed in the major championships inside the last few decades, with only one winner from the British Isles since the victory of Paul Lawrie in 1999, that being Graeme McDowell in the US Open just last month. Despite some quality golfers in that period, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, the likes just haven’t performed when it has come to the majors.
Recently it has been Lee Westwood who has found form, he came so very close to winning the Masters at Augusta, eventually falling to Phil Mickleson towards the end of the final round. His chance at winning a major is at its peak, having not performed this well since the turn of the millennium. He finished 3rd at the Open in 2009, his time is going to come soon without a doubt, and for me he is favourite to win the Open.
Yet it would be ridiculous to write off Tiger Woods (which I may have done for this years Masters, before he tied 4th). Despite all the issues and an inconsistent year so far, he loves St. Andres and when it comes the the majors so far in 2010 he has performed. Two tied 4th places in the Masters and US Open. Not bad form at all. I’ve learnt my lesson from writing him off and he could be a strong bet.
On paper though, those are the two favourites, but it is never that simple. Who last year would have thought Stewart Cink and Tom Watson would be fighting in a playoff to win the Claret Jug. Based on the horrific weather seen in the practice sessions, as well as the predicted rain and windy conditions coming up, it could prove to be one of the events when the stars fall and new faces rise up the ranks.
Two players in the recent times have come back into form, Ernie Els and Darren Clarke. Els has won two tournaments so far this year and came close in the US Open. He also loves the Open Championship, winning it in 2003 and has the most top 10 finishes in the last 10 years. Winning it at St. Andrews must be a gift from the gods. Darren Clarke had an exceptionally good Scottish Open in horrific conditions too, he likes the rough conditions that is expected to come this weekend.
Speaking of rough conditions, two time Open winner Padraig Harrington must be in contention. After struggling during the 2009 season he seems to have found his impressive form once again and loves these conditions, especially enduring them in 2008 to win his second Open Championship.
There are several British born competitors that could perform excellently around St. Andrews. The favourite after Lee Westwood must be Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irish boy wonder who won his first event on the European Tour at the age of 19. He has been talked up by pretty much everyone in golf. There is also Justin Rose, a man who has also won recently as well as Graeme McDowell, the winner of the US Open. Former amateur champion Chris Wood always seems to perform at the Open Championship as well.
Sadly I don’t see much hope for the hero of last year Tom Watson. I don’t think he is going to suit the conditions or the St. Andrews course. He’s admitted as well that its unlikely to replicate his success. The same with 2010 Masters winner Phil Mickleson, despite his success in that, he’s had a poor season in my eyes. Stewart Cink has also been fairly indifferent since his Open success.
Despite me picking half the field as potential challengers for the Claret Jug it is a realistic possibility. The 150th year of the Open Championship is the one most likely to see a British winner, no matter if it comes from Westwood, McIlroy etc. No matter who goes on to win though I predict it will be unpredictable. The weather is going to be a major factor in especially determining who makes the cut, there could well be a few big names fail, and a few small names succeed.
St. Andrews. The perfect place to win the Open Championship.
British Grand Prix
F1 leaves Silverstone with everyone talking about the dispute between the two Red Bull drivers, but all the drama of the weekend started with the surprise replacement of Bruno Senna. For reasons not quite known, Senna, who was last in the New Teams Championship before the weekend, was dropped in favour of Sakon Yamamoto. A driver who has failed to impress in his previous F1 drives and certainly didn’t look comfortable in the car.
In qualifying, it was evident that Virgin Racing had clawed back to the speed of Lotus Racing, with Timo Glock in a green and yellow sandwich. Heikki Kovalainen was on the New Teams Pole. Hispania were well back, with Chandhok 1.3 seconds slower than Lucas di Grassi. Yamamoto was dead last. At the end of it, Vitantonio Liuzzi was demoted to 20th seeing Kovalainen, Glock and Trulli moved up one place.
Jarno Trulli had an excellent start and got himself in front, and it took Liuzzi a lot of laps to work his way through. Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa suffered from punctures and also had to make their way past them at the first stop. Lucas di Grassi was the only one to retire early on, suffering from hydraulics problems.
Glock jumped Kovalainen at the stops but Heikki got past later on. After the safety car, Yamamoto somehow closed up on Chandhok but the Indian soon refound pace and sprinted away again. This lead to a rare 1-2 for Lotus with Jarno Trulli picking up another win.
|3||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||18th||4|
|6||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||Ret.||0|
Kovalainen retakes the lead on Chandhok but only leads by one point, the superior reliability of that Hispania helping him massively. Jarno Trulli also moves back ahead of Lucas di Grassi. Timo Glock continues to gain more points steadily and seemingly had 5th place all to himself. Sakon Yamamoto enters the standings with 2 points.
|4||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||34|
|5||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||24|
After a poor week in Valencia, Lotus are now a massive 23 points clear of Hispania. Hispania themselves increase the gap to Virgin Racing to two points, even with the big difference, anything can still happen in the upcoming weeks. Will Virgin start to outperform Lotus, will Hispania get anywhere near the other two teams in terms of pace?
This weekend, one of the biggest motorsport events in Great Britain takes place as a lot of noise arrives on its annual visit. It is undoubtadly the best event on the calendar, reaching impressive crowds which improve year on year. The British drivers will be trying to steal the limelight away for this one special occasion.
It is the British Grand Prix of Speedway in Cardiff.
Sixteen of the best mad men in the world will be gunning around the short Millenium Stadium track, including the ever popular Australian Jason Crump, the even more popular Greg Hancock (the Rubens Barrichello of the sport) and three British drivers in Chris Harris, Tai Woffinden and wildcard Scott Nicholls.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of speedway at Cardiff, moving away from Coventry Stadium back in 2001. Each year has provided some of the most special moments, possibly most memorable was back in 2007. The scene, Chris Harris in his debut year of Speedway Grand Prix, someone who had already picked up his first podium in only his second race in Wroclaw. He made it to the final, along with him was Leigh Adams (a quick rider with eight grand prix wins to his name), Greg Hancock (1995 World Champion and Grand Prix regular) and Jason Crump (the World Champion at the time, best rider out there). Here is a video of that race (with totally unbiased commentary from Nigel Pearson and Kelvin Tatum):
Last year certainly lived up for excitement, while Jason Crump recorded a perfect race (7 wins from 7 rides, totalling 24 points). Elsewhere, Scott Nicholls and fiesty Emil Sayfutdinov (who had previous altercations with Nicki Pedersen) had a bit of afters at the end of Heat 5.
This year should once again be interesting. Into this race, Tomasz Gollob has come off back to back wins and heads the Championship by just three points to Jaroslaw Hampel. Nineteen behind is Kenneth Bjerre, who up until recently looked like a strong contender. However he failed to make it to the semi finals in his last two outings and has the claws of Crump right behind him.
Traditionally British riders do well at Cardiff, in recent editions at least one rider has made it to the semi final (and of course Harris winning in 2007). Chris Harris is having an decent year Grand Prix wise, 11th in the standings but just points away from Nicki Pedersen in 8th (the top 8 are guaranteed automatic qualification into the next seasons Grand Prix). Harris has already been on the podium once and there is a strong chance he will do it again. The second regular British Grand Prix rider is Tai Woffinden, and those who know me know I’m a big fan of his. Woffinden is only 19 and has so far found Grand Prix racing as a steep learning curve. However an impressive performance in Poland saw him reach the semi finals for the first time. The wildcard for this event is Scott Nicholls (there are 15 regular riders as well as a wildcard for each race). Previously, Nicholls has been in the Grand Prix series since 2002, but a poor 2009 campaign both for his clubs and at Grand Prix saw him take a step back for a while. Performances have improved for Nicholls, a better showing for the Ipswich Witches and 2nd place in the British Championship to qualify for this event.
There are a lot of dangerous riders to look out for, Emil Sayfutdinov is injured after breaking his left arm, his replacement Piotr Protasiewicz has so far left me unimpressed, with just 5 points from ten rides (points structure for each heat is 3-2-1-0). On the other hand, Jason Crump, who seemed to be struggling from a injured shoulder from last season for most of this season has still looked strong and is worrying of what he could achieve when fully fit. He finished 4th last time out in Torun and is always strong when it comes to Cardiff. Look out for him.
The strong bet for the win though must be down to two of the Polish riders, Tomasz Gollob and Jaroslaw Hampel. Gollob has been on the podium in the last four meetings, winning two, Hampel been on for the last three winning one. Both are on a tremendous run of form and could be a strong bet for the win.
I reckon however that Greg Hancock could spring a surprise. So far this season, ‘Herbie’ Hancock has been poor, not up to his usual self and is languishing down in twelth. But when Britain comes along he is usually strong and I think for the first time this season, he will make it onto the podium.
So there we are, the British Grand Prix of speedway is on Saturday evening, with coverage on Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports HD2 (are you reading Bernie?). It is the third most attended motorsport event in Britain, the atmosphere is usually fantastic. It would be a shame to miss.
The World Cup is now just down to eight teams, the very best in the world. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Holland, Paraguay, Spain and Uruguay. The serious business is now in session.
But one team, none of the big boys, I want to see go on even further than they have and there is a very good chance that they can do that. That team is Ghana.
Ghana were the only African team to make it out of the group stages, a fact where South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast all failed (incidently, between those four teams, out of twelve games, only two were won, South Africa against France and the Ivory Coast against North Korea). The hopes of Africa in this African World Cup relies solely on a group of 23 men known as the Black Stars.
It hasn’t been a bad World Cup for them so far, an impressive record of 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 defeat. It was a brilliant start for them as an Asamoah Gyan penalty beat Serbia 1-0, they followed that up with a 1-1 draw of Australia, another penalty from that man Gyan. They lost to eventual group winners Germany 1-0, but showed promise and intent when going forward, it was a good sign.
The Round of 16 game was againt the USA, a team who had taken advantage of a below par England team by finishing top of the group. The perfect start, German born Kevin Prince Boateng scoring after just five minutes taking advantage of a gap left by Timo Howard from range. Jonathan Mensah fouled Clint Dempsey to give the US hope, which Landon Donovan took advantage of from the spot. But as the match moved into extra time, Gyan controlled brilliant before beating Howard to help the Black Stars advance to the Quarter Finals.
Both times Ghana have qualified for the World Cup, they have made it to the knockout stages. In 2006, they fell at the hurdle of the biggest team in the world, Brazil. This year they have went one stop further and face opposition similar to them, Uruguay. Despite deadly attacking from Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan, they are uncertain at the back, an area Ghana are very strong in.
Richard Kingson is third choice keeper at Wigan Athletic, yet he has been unbelievably strong at the back for Ghana. The team have only conceded three goals, one of the best in the tournament. The back four itself has been strong and consistant, the back featuring the Mensah brothers and John Pantsil, its worked well so far, I’m hoping it continues tomorrow.
The winner of this are most likely to be knocked out by the winner of Holland v Brazil, but the semi finals is no mean achievement. Ghana will become the first African team to ever make it this far into a tournament, their records are so far equalling that of Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002. History can be made tomorrow afternoon should they beat Uruguay, and in the world cup labeled as Africa United, it should be history well recieved.
I want Ghana to beat Uruguay tomorrow for many reasons, I don’t want a domination of South American teams in the semi finals, a possible Uruguay-Brazil, Argentina-Paraguay can happen. To me, despite it happening in Germany four years ago with a fully European semi final, will not be in the best interests and for Ghana, a team who were severerly weakend by the loss of Michael Essien before the tournament it would be brilliant if they could go on and win it. For Ghana and for Africa.