Archive for February, 2019

Ford expected to stay in V8s for 2014


As V8 Supercar racing enters its business end, Ford is close to agreeing on a deal to stay in the sport for at least another year.


Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is likely to remain so for 2014, with Ford set to stay the team’s backers despite preparing to close its Australian car manufacturing operations in 2016.

FPR drivers Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison, who comes off contract at the end of the year, are expected to remain.

It means the pair go into this weekend’s Sandown 500 with their futures and their team’s all but assured after strong seasons which have both drivers in the championship top three.

V8 insiders are bullish Ford will not only agree to stay on next year, but retain a presence in the sport even after the Falcon disappears in three years.

Ford’s mid-sized Mondeo and its American big car the Taurus could be used under current Car of the Future regulations, though the two-door boy-racer favourite, the Mustang, would need a big rules tweak.

Winterbottom will drive with former FPR regular and two-time Bathurst champ Steve Richards in the enduros, and believes Ford can win despite a dire Melbourne weather forecast for the next three days.

“Sandown is truly the lead-in to Bathurst but it is going to be tough this weekend with inclement weather forecast along with all the other factors that come into play with enduros,” Winterbottom said.

“The good thing is having two experienced guys paired up as we’ve seen everything Sandown has to throw at you.

“We believe we can win the race.”

Holden’s defending series champion Jamie Whincup holds a 55-point championship lead over Davison going into Friday practice at Sandown.

Sunday’s 161-lap race offers 300 points for the winner, and the top nine drivers in the championship are within that distance of Whincup in one of the tightest title battles in years.

The series regulars are also at the mercy of their V8 part-time co-drivers to a large degree at Sandown and Bathurst, with championship teammates not able to pair up for the enduros.

Meanwhile, V8 Supercars commission chairman Mark Skaife will stand down after next month’s Bathurst 1000 at the end of his two-year tenure.

The six-time Bathurst winner will remain with V8 Supercars in a business development role and as an adviser to the board.

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Sharks fine to play NRL finals: Ings


Former ASADA chairman Richard Ings says it’s entirely appropriate that Cronulla be allowed to play in the NRL finals despite being at the centre of an ongoing doping investigation.


While the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has concluded interviews with Sharks’ players, it is yet to finalise its probe into the club’s 2011 supplements program.

Unlike AFL club Essendon, Cronulla – who have not been the subject of any adverse findings – will be allowed to participate in this year’s finals after finishing the season in fifth spot.

Their campaign kicks off on Saturday against North Queensland at Allianz Stadium.

“I think it’s entirely appropriate that clubs and players continue business as normal until – and unless – ASADA comes to a point of finding that players or clubs have a serious case to answer for the possible breach of anti-doping rules,” Ings told AAP on Thursday.

“We’re not at that point yet in this process.

“Therefore clubs are innocent; players are innocent. They should be allowed to play through the finals series.”

Ings said it was incumbent upon ASADA to decide whether or not doping offences had been committed at the Sharks.

“And that question remains unanswered as of today,” he said.

“There’s a cloud hanging over the club, there’s a cloud hanging over the players at the club and there’s a cloud hanging over the NRL.

“The NRL has invested its faith in ASADA to answer those questions one way or another.

“If doping offences are uncovered by the authority, then there were rules to follow and consequences which may be imposed.”

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Coalition looks set to hold 90-plus seats


The Liberal-National coalition is on track to hold more than 90 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, after a number of Labor MPs conceded the party had lost government.


By 7.15pm (AEST), one hour after voting booths closed in eastern Australia, the Rudd Labor government was looking at a national swing against the party of 3.4 per cent.

The Australian Electoral Commission has listed the Labor seats of Braddon (Tasmania), Lyons (Tasmania) and Page (NSW) as coalition wins.

Labor was listed as potentially gaining Leichhardt (Queensland) from the LNP.

Nationally, Labor was in the lead in nine seats while the LNP was leading in 19 seats, with 122 still to be determined.

The coalition needs a net gain of just one seat to form government and two seats for an absolute majority in the lower house with its own speaker.

Labor needs a net gain of five seats to remain in power.

The coalition was tipped to pick up 14 seats in NSW, seven in Queensland, three in Victoria and one in Western Australia – which would take their numbers to 97 in the 150-seat parliament.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has left his Brisbane home to attend the Labor function at the Gabba.

Treasurer Chris Bowen said the coalition had won.

Former federal treasurer Peter Costello also said the coalition had won government.

“The election is over,” he told the Nine Network.

“The coalition has won. It is going to be a large majority. The question is how big that majority is going to be.”

In Mr Rudd’s seat of Griffith in Queensland, the race was close with about 16 per cent of the vote counted.

The prime minister was polling at 41.11 per cent against LNP candidate Bill Glasson on 41.45 per cent, on a first preference basis.

But Mr Rudd also looked likely to retain Griffith, ensuring his place in the next parliament.

At the ALP election function in Brisbane the crowd cheered when they heard ABC election analyst say Mr Rudd and former treasurer Wayne Swan would hold their seats.

By 7.45pm, Mr Swan has seen a less than one per cent swing against him in his Queensland seat of Lilley.

The AEC was listing 70 seats for the coalition and 38 for Labor.

The two-party swing against Labor was about three per cent, with almost more than two million votes counted.

Senate first preference results at 7.45pm were showing the Liberal-National coalition on track to win three spots in NSW and Tasmania, and three or four in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Labor was in line to hold two seats in Tasmania, one or two seats in NSW and at least one in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

The Liberal Democrats, who benefited from being the first box on the NSW Senate ballot paper and having a similar name to the Liberals, were coming third with 0.59 quotas, ahead of the Greens on 0.49 quotas.

The Palmer United Party was polling strongly in the Senate in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.

Liberal Mal Brough, who’s running for the Queensland seat of Fisher, said Labor’s vote in the state had collapsed and his booth workers began noticing this a couple of days ago.

“Clive Palmer threw a hell of a lot of money at this,” he told the ABC.

“He had a populist message, one of money for everyone and no accountability and you know, that’s obviously won some support.

“It would seem people that felt they couldn’t come to the coalition could protest with Mr Palmer.”

Barnaby Joyce, who quit his Queensland Senate seat to contest the seat of New England for the Nationals, said he was thrilled and humbled to be the new member for the NSW seat held by now retired independent Tony Windsor.

He says he took a big risk when he decided to quit the upper house to run for a lower house seat, but it had paid off.

“This is just such a humbling experience,” he told the Seven network.

By 8pm (AEST), the AEC was listing McEwen, Dobell, Reid, Lindsay, Page, Banks, Lyons, Bass, La Trobe, Robertson, Braddon, Corangamite, Lyne, New England, Hindmarsh and Deakin as likely coalition gains.

At 8.15pm (AEST), the AEC said the coalition was leading in 77 seats.

The party that wins 76 seats can form government.

Labor had 54 seats, with 20 not determined.

The two remaining crossbenchers in the parliament are likely to be Bob Katter in Kennedy and Andrew Wilkie in Denison.

But there is speculation that Clive Palmer could claim the Queensland seat of Fairfax for his Palmer United Party (PUP).

Of the seats still to be determined, 14 are held by coalition candidates, five by Labor and one by the Greens.

But it does appear Hotham (formerly held by Simon Crean), Charlton (formerly Greg Combet) and Rankin (formerly Craig Emerson) will remain with the new Labor candidates.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard’s seat of Lalor has also been retained.

The ABC is predicting the ALP will end up with 59 seats and the coalition 89.

However, there is still a change Clive Palmer could pick up Fairfax from the LNP in Queensland.

Bob Katter has retained his vast northern Queensland seat of Kennedy after a swing against him.

Almost seven million votes had been counted and the two-party swing against Labor was 3.34 per cent.

In NSW, the swing against Labor ranged up to eight per cent.

In Queensland, it was up to four per cent, in Victoria up to eight per cent and in Tasmania it was more than 10 per cent in at least two seats.

About 24 Labor-held seats hang in the balance, such as Eden-Monaro, Lingiari and Lilley.

David Bradbury conceded defeat in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay to Liberal candidate Fiona Scott, who Tony Abbott infamously described her as having sex appeal.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said Labor’s losses could have been worse.

“I just want to put on the record that Kevin Rudd did a very good job so far helping Labor candidates being returned,” Mr Shorten told Seven Network.

Queensland Labor MP Jackie Trad told AAP the outcome so far was better than earlier predictions Labor would be left with less than 50 seats in the lower house.

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Serena faces Azarenka threat at US Open


World No.


1 Serena Williams enters the US Open as a heavy favourite to defend her title, but second-ranked Victoria Azarenka leads a host of rivals looking to dethrone her.

Williams is seeking her 17th grand slam singles crown and fifth US Open title, which would move her one shy of Chris Evert’s Open-era record for most titles at the year’s final major event on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts.

“I’m definitely prepared. I’m definitely ready for New York,” Williams said. “I definitely had more matches than I could want, but I’m definitely prepared for the US Open.”

The 31-year-old American has been on an amazing run over the past 14 months, going 77-4 and capturing last year’s Wimbledon, London Olympic and US Open titles, plus this year’s French Open crown.

But two of those defeats came at the hands of Azarenka, in February’s Doha final and on Sunday at the WTA final in Cincinnati by a score of 2-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

It was only the third victory for the 24-year-old from Belarus over Williams but with the two having won seven of the past nine grand slam titles, it sets the stage for a potential rematch of last year’s US Open final.

“It would be totally different circumstances,” said Williams, who also beat Azarenka in this year’s Rome final. “It’s just a new event. You just got to go in there with a fresh mind.”

Williams will go into the Open without a win streak such as she had the past few grand slam events.

“It makes me more relaxed and almost happy that I lost because now I don’t have to worry about every day someone asking me about some silly winning streak,” Williams said. “So maybe it was for the best.”

Williams also finds herself in a cordial rivalry, appreciating Azarenka off the court as a friend and on the court as an adversary.

“She’s so competitive on the court, like an animal, and I’m the same exact way, like my dad described me as a pitbull,” Williams said.

Williams is looking for her ninth title of the year after triumphs in Brisbane, Miami, Charleston, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Bastad and Toronto.

But she has proven vulnerable in grand slams, falling to compatriot Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open quarter-finals and Germany’s Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round at Wimbledon, but completing her title run on Paris clay with a victory over Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova would have been the third seed at the US Open but she withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday, citing right shoulder bursitis.

As a result, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska becomes the third seed, followed in order by Italy’s Sara Errani, China’s Li Na, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, Czech Petra Kvitova and Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, says she has learned from past losses to Williams.

“Every time we play, I face a big challenge, my biggest opponent, and that’s what I want to go through,” Azarenka said.

“I had tough losses before against her, but I feel like I learned from those losses, and it helps me improve.”

Azarenka took confidence from rallying to beat Williams in the Cincinnati final, but says the American will be the favourite on home soil.

“She is No.1 in the world. She is a great champion, and she’s defending champion, so she’s going to be a favourite,” Azarenka said.

“About who’s second favourite, third favourite, I don’t really care about that.”

Australian Samantha Stosur, who beat Williams in the 2011 final, is seeded 12th this year.

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