Category Archives: sport

Pit Stop – Small storie making waves in Motorsport – By Lewis Brearley

After the flurry of news regarding the first Formula One pre-season test in Jerez and the Sepang MotoGP test, the current absence of news seems rather dull. However, if you’ve been following closely you will have noticed a few intriguing stories.

The sponsor situation in Formula One has been pretty dire in recent years but recent news could be optimistically taken to mean that last year, when Williams, Sauber and Marussia all ran with almost bare liveries, thankfully may have been the nadir.

Williams recently announced a new sponsorship deal with Martini, meaning the legendary and iconic red, white and blue stripes of the 1970s should again be present in the new turbocharged era.

This, alongside further deals with Genworth Insurance and Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company surely attracted to the team by the team’s new Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, combined with the team’s new technical structure under Pat Symonds’ leadership and the promising pace shown at the Jerez test, all builds to a very positive vibe around the Grove team.

If the team delivers during the season then maybe the sleeping giant of Formula One can defy the doubters and once again compete to win races. If so, the sport will be all the healthier for it.

The arrival of any new sponsor into Formula One is a big story nowadays. Whereas in the early noughties even midfield teams had the logos of huge, blue chip companies painted onto their cars, things are much harder now.

The financial crash of 2008 led to the exits of many companies who had been supporting teams and five years later, for some reason, there hasn’t yet been a renaissance of corporate interest.

Even the mighty McLaren was trundling around Jerez without a title sponsor, after Vodafone decided to end their involvement at the end of 2013, reportedly due to the negative publicity furore surrounding the controversial Bahrain grand prix.

Former team principal Martin Whitmarsh had announced a sponsor unveiling for last December but worryingly, that was cancelled. This was one of the reasons why Ron Dennis took back control of the Formula One team, after becoming concerned about the team’s commercial business.

Rumours have grown that all will be well by the time of the Australian grand prix and that their car, now under the leadership of racing director Eric Boullier, will be adorned with a new, major sponsor. We shall see.

Another recent story is the successful first outing of the new Lotus E22. With the team having endured delays and their engine manufacturer, Renault, having serious problems at the Jerez test with their other teams, the fact that they ran a trouble-free 100km was a surprise to many.

In the past few years the Lotus team have shown to be one of the finest teams on the grid, and despite their huge financial troubles and loss of top-level engineers, could be on course for a stronger season than many suggested.

However, it seems highly unlikely that the team will replicate their recent race winning form of the past two years and a strong midfield campaign seems much more probable. But that’s just speculation, more evidence of where each team stands will be provided next week when the second Formula One test starts in Bahrain.

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Pit Stop – Turbo is back with a bang – By Lewis Brearley

Formula One testing gets underway only next week but until then there’s nothing really to except speculate. Who’s going to surprise? Who’s going to fail? How ugly exactly are the new cars?

However, all this is just an exercise in futility so until testing actually happens it’s worth looking back to Formula One’s previous turbo era: 1978 – 1988.

Renault was the very first team to race with a turbocharged engine, a 1.5 litre V6. While at first it was unanimously seen as a joke, slow and extremely unreliable, but by the end of the season the first signs of promise were visible.

The lack of reliability would plague the Renault throughout their span in the sport. Alain Prost had runs at the title in 1981, 1982 and 1983 but was always hampered by his car’s inability to finish.

All this disappointment and the loss of Prost to McLaren, caused Renault to withdraw from the sport at the end of 1985. However their turbo technology had revolutionised the sport.

By 1984 all the teams were using 1.5l turbocharged engines and the McLaren-TAG combination began to dominate despite impressive competition from Williams-Honda, taking three successive drivers’ championships from 1984-1986.

1987 saw the Williams-Honda finally take a driver’s championship with Nelson Piquet after his team mate, Nigel Mansell, severely injured his back which forced him to miss the final two races.

The year after was the final year for the turbos as they were banned for 1989 in a bid to slow the car’s down. But it was the final turbo year – 1988 – which came to define the era that preceded it.

McLaren procured the awesome Honda engine thanks to signing Ayrton Senna, who had built up a close relationship with the Japanese company in his time at Lotus. When combined with Alain Prost, then a double world champion, it delivered a championship double after winning an unprecedented and unbeaten 15 race wins out of 16 races.

The only thing that stopped McLaren taking a 100% sweep was the infamous incident at Monza, where Jean-Louis Schlesser turned in on Senna while being lapped, which cost McLaren the victory.

Despite the fact that the 2014 engines use turbos, the new and upcoming turbo era is going to be very different from the eighties. Whereas the old era was all about pure, awesome power with engines giving out more than 1000bhp when on maximum boost. This new era will be much more focused towards efficiency and refined power.

The turbo itself has a system where a large proportion of the waste heat from inside the turbo is stored and then utilised by the engine.

The style of racing will change for next year and whether it’s popular or not the technology inside the cars is an interesting and impressive step  up from the past few years.

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Pit Stop – Testing is close – By Lewis Brearley

It is now just one week until Formula One testing gets underway at Jerez and the hype is beginning to build.

Despite the confidence of the Lotus team that they wouldn’t be the only ones to miss the first test, they remain the only team to have announced that they won’t be there.

The effect this will have on Lotus’s preparations for the new season is as yet unknown and probably won’t be until the Australian grand prix on 16 March, but with the huge implications of the complex new regulations added to the negative stories around the finances of the team, it is generally expected to be a significant setback.

Yet, as the team and their fans will argue, setbacks during pre-season testing can be overcome. Lotus themselves lost two days of running last season when they found their new chassis was cracked and McLaren are infamous for their tendency to have poor starts to the season and often manage to overcome their problems by the time the season gets going.

Another big unknown is the driver situation at Caterham, who haven’t yet announced their partnering. Rumours gathered pace this week that one will be Kamui Kobayashi, the popular and exciting talent who has been out of the sport for a year.

When taken amid the current furore over the prevalence of pay drivers, if Caterham does decide to sign Kobayashi, it will be a real positive for the sport and certainly should give Paul di Resta confidence that it is possible to return to Formula One after being dropped.

His team mate is likely to be the young Marcus Ericsson, who has shown inconsistent flashes of speed in four seasons in GP2. He was often seen around the Caterham garage last season which backs up the rumours that he will be driving for them next year.

Regardless of who gets signed, the fact that Caterham haven’t yet announced their drivers raises eyebrows. With the competition to get seats being so high, perhaps they are just using the luxury of holding all the cards, and using all the time to make sure they get the best deal they possibly can.

Interesting things are also happening at McLaren. While they may have their driver line up of Jenson Button and the promising Kevin Magnussen sealed, they executive structure is set for a re shuffle.

Ron Dennis wrested back the controls of the team from his former trusted protégé, Martin Whitmarsh after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the team’s recent lack of success.

In his statement Dennis said to prepare for “changes to be made” and with Honda teaming up with McLaren next year, former Honda team principal and recently retired Ross Brawn is a possible new team principal.

McLaren really need a strong year, and next week at Jerez, Button will find out whether he has the car to be able to bid for his second world championship.

The teams are now almost ready but as of now it’s all unknowns.

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Pit Stop – World Rally Championship – By Lewis Brearley

The 2014 World Rally Championship begins next week with one of the most highly anticipated Monte Carlo rallies of all time.

The grid has had an almost complete overhaul with only the Volkswagen line up of reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andrea Mikkelsen remaining unchanged.

Last year’s surprise package, Thierry Neuville, has joined the brand new Hyundai team. The Korean operation has plenty of doubters but journalists who were invited to the team’s factory were highly impressed by the facilities and determination of the new team to challenge Volkswagen for the championship.

The success of the debuting i20 WRC is in safe hands with Neuville, who surprised many by outperforming Mads Ostberg on his way to second place in the 2013 championship. If the Hyundai is good enough Neuville will surely be in the running for his first WRC win.

However, to do so will require Neuville to beat heavy competition. Outside of the formidable Ogier-Volkswagen partnership and his highly talented team mate Latvala, both the old hands Ford and Citroen have all new driver partnerships.

In the winter Ford announced its big marquee signing, Robert Kubica. The ex-Formula One driver has shown extraordinary pace in WRC2 and the ERC, including a brilliant, last stage win in the first round of the 2014 ERC.

His success at stepping up to the highest level of rallying will be measured quite easily thanks to his team mate being the fast and reliable Mikko Hirvonen, who moves back to Ford after two years with Citroen. If Kubica outpaces Hirvonen in Monte Carlo it will be a huge story and if Kubica does the unthinkable and actually wins the rally he would be the first man in history to win in both Formula One and the WRC.

Ford have also replaced the unpredictable Evgeny Novikov with the Welsh youngster, Elfyn Evans. Winner of the WRC Academy championship in 2012, Evans has the opportunity to learn from two amazing talents but conversely also faces the risk of being put in the shade by them. And in a sport where confidence rules, that could be damaging.

Evans does have the talent to shine if he approached the championship in the right way and may even sneak a rally win if things go his way, however it’s highly unlikely to be next week’s Monte Carlo rally.

The final challenges are from Citroen, a team looking to bounce back to success after a poor 2013 season and are another team with a brand new line up. Mads Ostberg is in pretty much the same boat after he was unexpectedly beaten at Ford by Neuville but has stated he is much more confident in the Citroen. If he can return to being at the front of rallies, the sport will be all the better for it as he looked to have the full package back in 2012.

His team mate is the former IRC champion, Kris Meeke. Being a rather unknown quantity and likely Citroen’s second choice as they attempted to sign Kubica, his potential in the WRC is a mystery. However, he is an experienced rally hand and it’s probable he’ll slip into a reliable point scoring role rather than a rally winner.

For a sport so used to domination by the now retired Sebastien Loeb, the 2014 Monte seems like a bright, fresh start with an expanded grid full of both experienced and untried but promising talent.

Whatever happens next week, all that’s known is that the winner of the Monte will be validated as one of the world’s great drivers.

Pit Stop – Drivers transfer season – By Lewis Brearley

This week’s Formula One news was dominated by rumours and confirmations of drivers moving to and fro.

After weeks of inaction, the 2014 driver market is finally beginning to take some kind of shape.
Early in the week Williams announced what had been rumoured ever since Rob Smedley – Massa’s respected and trusted engineer – joined the team a couple of months ago when Ferrari confirmed Massa’s sacking. Massa therefore joins the highly rated rookie, Valtteri Bottas at the struggling Grove team.

Despite the many columns of criticism aimed at Massa over the past couple of years, he is a strong signing for a midfield team. He is one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, having made his debut back in 2002, is still very fast as his 9-8 qualifying record against Fernando Alonso proves, and attracts lots of exposure in the huge, F1 loving market of Brazil.

With Massa and hopefully some backing from Brazilian companies on board, combined with the addition of Pat Symonds as technical director, Williams may just be able to save themselves from their current dire predicament, having scored just one point all season.

The second driver move that took place this week was a little bit more unexpected. Sergio Perez confirmed that he had been sacked by McLaren after just one season at the team. Just a couple of days later McLaren confirmed that their promising young driver, Formula Renault 3.5 champion Kevin Magnussen, would take over as Jenson Button’s team mate.

After the Abu Dhabi grand prix, engineers within the team as well as people involved in the young driver programme, began to push for Magnussen to replace Perez. The team, in particular engineers working with Perez, are said to have low opinions of the Mexican’s work ethic and potential speed.

This leaves Perez as a late big name addition to the expansive pool of drivers looking for 2014 seats. At the age of just 23, Perez is still inexperienced and has admitted himself that his future prospects have just been hit very hard indeed.

The last driver to be a disappointment at McLaren was Heikki Kovalainen. He went on to race three more seasons at the Caterham team with a best place finish in all that time of 15th position. Perez and the backers of the Mexican grand prix will be hoping Perez has more F1 left in him than that.

The mooted race in Mexico City has faced rumours this week that it will delay its return to 2015 due to the construction required to bring the track up to acceptable standards. Whether it will happen at all if Mexico has no promising driver to get behind is unclear indeed.

The final story this week relates to the long running saga that is Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement at Lotus. With Kimi deciding to have back surgery now rather than compete in the final two grand prix the team had to move fast. Nico Hulkenberg, the team’s favourite potential driver, surprisingly turned down the opportunity to leave Sauber early leaving the team to replace a Finn with another Finn.

So Heikki Kovalainen returns to Formula One this weekend. Maybe his exploits will put him in the 2014 picture?

It’snowheaven – Pleasure Jam Kicks Off Season – By Jess Softley

The annual 4star TTR event that is The O’Neil Pleasure Jam kicked off Europe’s winter season, as riders from all over the world came to Schladming-Dachstein, Austria to battle it for a whopping prize purse of 20,000 USD.

This invite only event allows snowboarding’s elites to compete in one of the best parks around with the perfect backdrop of Austria’s Dachstein glacier.

With the sun shining and a killer set up, this year’s competitors gave it their all as the last of the heats came to an end, leaving the final 6 riders to step up their game to claim the all-important prize purse.

Despite not making it into the final, our very own Brit riders Nate Kern and Rowan Coultas both held their own in the semi-finals to prove that they belong with the big boys.

It was a tough final for the girls as Aimee Fuller, Isabel Derungs and Anna Gasser all threw down some serious moves to try and claim first place. But it was Swiss rider Isabel that came out on top soaring to 1st place with her steezy backside rodeo giving her an unassailable score of 75.30.

The Austrian female wonder that is Anna Gasser left the media stunned last week, as she stomped a cab double underflip (more than once) making her the first female rider to have ever landed this kind of double cork off a park kicker.

So as you can guess, everyone was anxious to see what she would pull out of the bag to earn her place on the podium. But it was actually her stylish ‘slow-mo’ backside 180 that clinched her second place spot.

It was Britain’s very own powder girl, Aimee Fuller that made it into the final three just slipping in behind Anna to take 3rd place.

The men’s final saw some on the best riding we’ve seen as Sweden native, Sven Thorgren clawed his way to victory with a monster cab double 1080, followed by a backside 1080, and a killer double rodeo to finish it off. After two years of missing out on 1st place, I’m sure Sven will be stoked with his top podium position scoring a total of 91.00 points.

Unfortunately for David Hablützel, his run only scored him 87.80 which meant settling for second place with his backside 900, cab double 1080 and frontside 720.

Brage Richenburg just managed to steal 3rd place with a stylish frontside 1080, giving him a total of 79.80 points.

After a long and eventful day, with some well fought runs, the Dachstein Glacier was proud to be home to some of the best names in the snowboarding, even if it was just for a day.

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Pit Stop – Korea – By Lewis Brearley

A brand new, high tech new racing circuit, weaving in between hotels, restaurants and gleaming skyscrapers. That was the idea for the Korean International Circuit when it was conceived back in 2009.

However, this grand vision is not what awaits the Formula One circus when it arrives this week for the Korean Grand Prix.

Instead, they will find a barren site on the outskirts of the dull, port city of Mokpo. In fact, when the paddock arrived for the 2011 race, the second ever Korean Grand Prix, they were shocked to discover debris and litter from the race the previous year was still scattered around the circuit.

Every year, speculation is rife that the Korean Grand Prix will be no more the year after, but it is still scheduled to be held again next year, despite the much troubled situation of the circuit.

When the lights go out on Sunday morning however, it’s the circuit itself which will be the only thing on peoples’ minds. The circuit is quite unique, with all the straights being at the start of the lap, and all the technical corners in the following two sectors, and the drivers report that they actually enjoy its special challenges.

The past two races have been won by Sebastian Vettel, and the 2010 race would also have been his were it not for a late engine failure. These are daunting statistics for the rest of the field, and for the first time in memory, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have publicly resigned themselves to seeing the Red Bull driver on the top step of the podium before a car has even taken to the track.

Such was Vettel’s pace at the last race in Singapore, as he stormed away two seconds a lap quicker than anybody else seemingly at ease, that his competitors seem to have surrendered their 2013 title hopes.

But, unfortunate it may be for those craving a close championship battle, they are probably correct to do so. Vettel is more consistent than he ever has been and the symbiotic relationship between driver and his car appears to grow stronger each race.

His level of dominance has caused some to question whether his Red Bull is using a secret traction control. However, with common ECUs regulated and checked scrupulously by the FIA, these allegations are nonsensical.

What is true though, is that Red Bull are using a highly successful engine mapping setting which no other team can seem to fathom. Regulation of engine torque at low speeds is vital to avoid wheelspin and improve traction. Somehow, Red Bull have devised a way to achieve a much better system than any other team.

Completely legal and completely demoralising for every other team. Now charging towards their fourth successive championship double, can any team step up and challenge Red Bull?

It’snowheaven – Where it all started – By Jess Softley

Snowboarding is enjoyed by thousands of people recreationally and professionally and is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK, combining elements of surfing, skateboarding and skiing.

With such easy access to dry slopes and indoor snow domes, becoming a snowboarder has never been as easy. However, it wasn’t always this easy.

Before the 90s, snowboarding was a sport which had very limited access, as the only way to practice was to travel to places such as France, Switzerland, Canada and the USA. After the establishment of dry slopes, snowboarding thrived as a sport and continued to develop over the years.

For a country that lacks the snowboarding terrain to rival the likes of the Alps, the UK has produced some world class talent. Over the past decade, the popularity of the sport has almost quadrupled with the support of sixty dry slopes and six indoor real-snow centers in the UK.

Also, the number of Brits taking snowboarding holidays has increased from 187,000 in 2000 to 230,000 within a matter of seven years. 1998 was a huge year for snowboarding, not just in Britain but all over the world, as snowboarding was accepted as an Olympic sport in its own right at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Here, men and women both competed in two events, the giant slalom and the halfpipe. A Giant Slalom is an alpine snowboarding discipline which involves snowboarding between sets of poles, spaced at a greater distance to each other than in an ordinary slalom slope.

A halfpipe is a structure used in gravity extreme sports such as snowboarding. It is essentially two concave ramps, where snowboarders aim to ride the pipe from right to left and visa-versa, whilst attempting to do tricks throughout their runs.

The giant slalom event took place at Shiga Kogen on Mt. Yakebitai, a ski resort which formally did not allow snowboarders, until the Olympics. However, this did cause some controversy and as a result of this, the International Snowboarding Federation was founded.

The British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) organisation was founded in 2010 to support British athletes get recognition from the FIS discipline and help them prepare and enter for the Winter Olympics. They aim to get British riders out on the podiums at world events and challenge other countries to achieve medal success at next year’s Olympics.

This then paved the way for today’s British riders to develop their skills and showcase their talents against some of the world’s best riders.

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Worlds most dangerous waves!!!

Sykose Extreme Sports News

 

Big-wave surfer Mark Healey on a huge wave at Jaws, off the island of Maui, during the October 2012 swell; Photograph by Zak Noyle/A-Frame

Big-wave surfer Mark Healey on a huge wave at Jaws during the October 2012 swell; Photograph by Zak Noyle/A-Frame

For all of human history, waves have been a byword for “danger.” They drown swimmers, sink ships, and swamp entire towns with an inexorability and indifference that mocks the frailty of man in the intermittent roar and murmur of moving water.

While many old maritime fears have died out in our modern age of monolithic cruise ships, detailed weather algorithms, and satellite navigation, the wave remains uniquely menacing to all but a very select few. Ironically, surfers have changed the way we look at waves, not through any technological advancement, but by dedicated themselves to a Pre-Columbian diversion in which they challenge the sea with little more accouterment than and a glorified buoy with fins on one side.

Big-wave surfing as we know it today is a relatively new pursuit…

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Bowled Over- England Vs Australia Review ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – By Luqman Liaqat

James Anderson overtook Darren Gough to be his country’s leading wicket taker in one-day cricket as England beat Australia by 48-runs in their opening Champions Trophy match.

After opting to bat first England put 270 on the board with Ian Bell reaching his highest score of 91 at Edgbaston and in reply the Aussies could only score 221-9.

Bell played an anchoring throughout his innings and put on 57 with his opening partner Alistair Cook before Shane Watson removed the England skipper for 30 caught behind by Mathew Wade.

Jonathon Trott gave good support to Bell by sharing a stand of 111 in 22 overs taking England to a strong position at 168-1 (33.4 overs). In the next few overs the hosts lost Trott (43) and Joe Root followed him back to pavilion for 12 off Clint McKay (2-38).

Bell contributed well with some neat strokes and occasionally played cracking drives but after Root’s dismissal he soon fell for 91 off 115 balls when James Faulkner bowled him out with a straight delivery.

From 168-1 England were now in some bother after a poor display in the batting powerplay, Eoin Morgan lost his leg-stump and Jos Buttler fell to Faulkner leaving England on 213-6.

An unbeaten partnership of 56 from Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan pushed the final score to 269 as Bopara hit three fours and one maximum in his 36-ball 46 not out.

Australia’s bowling options lacked a specialist spinner on a gripping surface, and among the pacers Mitchell Starc (1-75) was a huge disappointment.

In reply, the openers started with a slow run rate which put plenty of pressure on the middle order batsmen and they never looked like recovering. David Warner was first to fall for nine when he carved at an angled delivery from Stuart Broad presenting a catch to Buttler.

By the 15th over the run rate had barely touched three and more bad news struck the Aussies, Watson (24) was dismissed by Bresnan leaving score on 47-2.

Skipper George Bailey and Phil Hughes could only provide a mini recovery with a 37 run partnership before Root had his first one-day wicket when he had Hughes leg before.

The only batsmen to show any glimpses of quality was Bailey as he reached his 6th ODI fifty, the next three wickets all went down in quick succession. First, Adam Voges lost his middle and off-stump, Anderson (3-30) had Mitchell Marsh caught behind to top the England wicket taking list and after Wade’s wicket Australia were left stumbling on 136-6.

Bailey lost his patience on 55 in an attempt to play a big shot off James Tredwell he could only manage to loop the ball straight to Root in the deep leaving the Aussies seven down.

Faulkner’s 38-ball half-century at least ensured Australia played out the 50 overs which limited the damage on their net run-rate and they left Edgbaston with some pride intact as the innings concluded on 221-9.

Alongside Anderson’s fine spell, Bresnan (2-45) and Broad (1-35) chipped in to give England a comfortable victory in Group A. 

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