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Hamilton wraps pre-season Formula One testing as the fastest

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BARCELONA: Formula One wrapped up the first pre-season test of the year in Barcelona with four-times world champion Lewis Hamilton back on top of the timesheets for Mercedes. The Briton, who had done only 25 laps earlier in the week after snow and rain wreaked havoc with the schedule, completed 69 more with a fastest time of one minute 19.333 seconds using the medium Pirelli tyres.
“I was really happy to get out today, to be honest,” Hamilton told reporters at the end of the days session at the Circuit de Catalunya. "I dont like testing but today I actually was really keen to get out, obviously because we hadnt had many laps... to get a feel for the tyres and warm-up process and kind of stretch the legs a little bit on this new car. So far its positive.”
The pace of the Mercedes came as no surprise, with the team having won the last four driversand constructors titles, and they already look the team to beat even though testing times can be deceptive. Ferraris Sebastian Vettel, also a four-times champion and last years runner-up to Hamilton, has already said that Hamilton and Mercedes will be favourites when the season starts in Australia on March 25.
Hamilton said he was not looking at other teamsperformance, however.
"I don
t know what theyve been doing," he said. "Ive seen a couple of them on track. Ive not even seen their livery, I just know its red.” Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne, in the now Renault-powered McLaren after that teams split with Honda at the end of last year, did 110 laps and was second quickest although he was using the much faster hyper-soft tyres.
Vandoorne
s time of 1:19.854 was still half a second slower than Hamiltons. The Belgians Spanish team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso did another 51 laps and was fifth on the timing screens.
French driver Pierre Gasly, in the Honda-powered Toro Rosso, did the most mileage — an impressive 147 laps — while Vettel completed 120 and was third fastest on a day that started wet but dried out. “I’d have liked to have driven more, but we can do that next week (at the second test), when we will start to get a clearer picture,” said Vettel, who spent some time in the garage as mechanics worked on the car.
Mexican Sergio Perez had his first taste of the new Force India, after the snow stopped him getting any mileage on Wednesday, and lapped eighth fastest. The second and final pre-season test starts on Tuesday at Barcelona`s Circuit de Catalunya.


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Ganguly backs Dhawan to shine at ICC World Cup

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Mumbai:There is not a bowler in the world that can stop Shikhar Dhawan when the opener is in determined mood and the left-hander will be crucial to Indias hopes at this years Cricket World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly has said.

Dhawan smashed 97 not out off 63 balls in Delhi Capitalsseven-wicket victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in Fridays Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at Eden Gardens, much to the delight of Ganguly, an advisor to the Capitals.

Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma are India`s batting mainstays in one-day cricket but Ganguly puts Dhawan, who has 16 centuries from 128 ODIs with a 93-plus strike rate, in the same league.

 

“The three best players in one-day cricket — Dhawan, Rohit, Virat,” Ganguly told the IPL website. “When he (Dhawan) gets set and gets in he`s unstoppable.

“All I expect from him is determination. When he is determined, no bowler in the world can stop him.”

Dhawan`s second fifty of this IPL season, which catapulted Delhi into the top four, augurs well for India ahead of the May 30 to July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.

Along with opening partner Rohit, the onus will be on Dhawan to give India strong starts in the tournament and the southpaw has performed well on English soil.

Named man of the series in their triumphant 2013 Champions Trophy campaign, Dhawan was also the tournament`s leading scorer four years later when India lost in the final to Pakistan.

“If he gets set, he takes the game away. This is how he plays for India,” Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup, later told reporters. “He`s a class act.”

Two-time champions India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

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Olympique Lyon’s Champions League spot under threat after Nantes defeat

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London: Olympique Lyonnais` Champions League qualifying hopes were hit as they were beaten 2-1 at Nantes in Ligue 1.

Third-placed Lyon, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot, were undone by Anthony Limbombes late free-kick after Martin Terrier had cancelled out Kalifa Coulibalys opener for Nantes.

Lyon are on 56 points with six games left, six ahead of fourth-placed St Etienne, who play their game in hand at home against Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday.

 

It was Lyon`s third straight defeat in all competitions after they were knocked out of the French Cup semi-finals by Stade Rennes and lost at home to lowly Dijon in the league last weekend.

The result leaves an even bigger question mark over coach Bruno Genesio`s future, with the club set to make a decision on whether to extend his contract at the end of the season.

With Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Marcelo on the bench, Lyon got off to a bad start.

Coulibaly opened the scoring in the 11th minute after collecting a though ball from Majeed Waris.

Lyon were shaken by the hosts but weathered the storm and equalised one minute before the interval when Terrier curled a fine shot into the back of the net to finish off a counter-attack.

Limbombe earned Nantes victory seven minutes from fulltime with an inch-perfect free-kick, lifting the Canaries up to 15th in the table on 34 points.

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Defender Gomez sign two-year contract extension in East Bengal

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Mumbai: East Bengal fans will heave a huge sigh of relief after their star defender Borja Gomes decided to sign a contract extension with the club and not follow Jobby Justin to go out. The Kolkata-based club is in the process of becoming a part of the ISL next season with I-League’s future looking bleak.

East Bengal came agonizingly close to lift the I-League title yet again this season before Chennai City FC eventually won it as the Kolkata club finished second.And with I-League looking to either get dissolved or set to get demoted to the second division, it was important for East Bengal to finish high on the table.

However, that wasn’t enough for the club to retain their star striker Jobby Justin, who signed a pre-contract with two-time ISL champions ATK just after the I-League ended and the Super Cup was in its quarter-final stage. But, the club was quick to react after that setback and on Friday handed a two-year contract extension to Spanish defender Borja Gomez.

 

“East Bengal FC are pleased to announce the renewal of contract with Borja Gomez Perez for the next two seasons,” the club said in a statement.

“According to him, this is the best team and ‘fans are the best in India’,” the statement added.

The Madrid-born La-Liga star, who is nick-named as the ‘Senapati’, was one of the key members for the club last season and has been a motivator for the team both on and off the field. Gomez has previously played for Granada CF, Real Oviedo, Hercules CF, Real Murcia and more before East Bengal had signed him from UD Sanse in January last year.

East Bengal has already announced their bid for ISL in a board meeting and are currently waiting for the terms to get financially acceptable.

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