New Zealand driver Scott McLaughlin has claimed his first pole position in IndyCar at the opening race of the the new season in Florida.
New Zealand IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin. Photo: Photosport Ltd/LAT Images
In just his second year in the series, the three-time Supercars champion clocked the fastest time in qualifying on the streets of St Petersburg on Sunday (NZ time).
McLaughlin, who made a high profile move from Supercars to Indycar at the end of 2020, was the 2021 rookie of the year and finished 14th overall in his opening season.
Countryman and six-time IndyCar champ Scott Dixon will start Monday’s race from seventh after narrowly missing out on the final “Fast 6” phase of qualifying.
Another title for Venus
Leading New Zealand tennis player Michael Venus has added another title to his resume.
Venus and German partner Tim Puetz secured the doubles title at the ATP 500 tournament in Dubai on Sunday (NZ time).
The fourth seeds beat top seeds and world’s number one ranked pair Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic in an epic final, prevailing 6-3 6-7 (3) 16-14 in an hour and 56 minutes.
It was the first win over the Croatians for Venus and Puetz, who lost to the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champions in their only previous meeting in Vienna last year.
Venus, who picked up his 17th ATP doubles title, was the defending Dubai champion, having won their last year with his former partner, Australian John Peers.
Venus and Puetz had now won three ATP doubles titles together since joining forces after last year’s French Open.
The pair were set to climb to seventh in the race to qualify among the top eight teams for the ATP Finals in Turin in November.
Venus would now head to Las Vegas to meet up with the New Zealand Davis Cup team ahead of next weekend’s World Group 1 qualifying tie against Uruguay.
Aces bag another one-day crown
Auckland’s strong magic run through the back end of men’s domestic one-day competition has culminated in the team’s third 50-over title in the space of five years.
The Aces eased to an eight-wicket win over Central Districts in Saturday’s final in Queenstown, comfortably chasing down their modest target of 214.
Mark Chapman blasted 92 from only 75 balls to secure victory in just 36.1 overs, with opening batsman George Worker batting through the innings to finish not out on 65 off 109 balls.
Earlier, impressive figures of 4-32 from Black Caps speedster Lockie Ferguson helped restrict the Stags to 213 all out batting first.
Seamer Sean Solia bagged two wickets, including the key scalp of Black Caps veteran Ross Taylor.
Captain Tom Bruce was the best of the Central Districts batters, hitting 63 from 66.
The women’s one-day final between unbeaten Wellington and Otago was being played at the same venue on Sunday.
Ninth national title for Cooper
World No 9 ranked rider Anton Cooper made it nine titles in retaining the elite men’s cross-country honours at the Mountain Bike Nationals in Christchurch.
Canterbury-based Taupo rider Sammie Maxwell joined Cooper as a repeat winner in the elite women’s race over the challenging circuit at Crocodile Park in Halswell on Saturday.
The conditions were made more challenging with a change to wet and windy weather during the afternoon which provided an additional test of riding skills.
Cooper, who finished sixth at the Tokyo Olympics, had his preparations restricted after breaking his wrist following an accident with a vehicle while training.
Ben Oliver was second a minute back, with brother Craig a further 14 seconds adrift.
Maxwell enjoyed a breakthrough win at the same venue last year, claiming both the elite and under-23 honours, but was unsure of her form coming into this year’s race.
She topped a podium which also included Mary Gray and Amelie Mackey, both from the local Christchurch Singletrack Club.
Wet weather forces postponement of Nix matches
Both Wellington Phoenix football teams have had their games against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday postponed after inclement weather in New South Wales.
The matches in Sydney were due to be played as a double-header.
However weather officials had issued flood warnings in both New South Wales and Queensland, with severe storms expected to persist into Sunday.
The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) said the two Phoenix matches had been postponed due to drainage problems at the Western Sydney Stadium.
“Due to the rising Parramatta River and increased level of the surrounding water table, CommBank stadium’s surface has been unable to drain and is therefore unfit for play.
“The A-Leagues will continue to work closely with venue management to monitor the surface for the next 48 hours with the aim of rescheduling the games to later this week.
Poland, Sweden won’t play Russia
Poland and Sweden say they will not play their football World Cup qualifiers against Russia, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Robert Lewandowski Photo: PHOTOSPORT
The playoff matches are set to be held in March to fill a slot for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and several Poland players including captain Robert Lewandowski backed the decision with statements on social media.
Russia is scheduled to host Poland in the semifinals of its strand of the playoffs on March 24 and, if its team advances, is scheduled to host either Sweden or the Czech Republic on March 29 in the Path B final.
The Swedish FA later said that its team would not face the Russians regardless of where the match is played.
Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic on Friday (NZ time) released a joint statement saying Russia should not be allowed to host the qualifiers next month.
Meanwhile the executive board of the Norwegian Ski Federation said it does not want Russian athletes competing at upcoming World Cup races and world championships in Norway.
“The Norwegian Ski Federation’s message to Russia and Russian athletes is crystal clear – we do not want your participation.”
Norway is set to host events in Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined over the next few weeks.
The federation added that it would follow up with the International Ski Federation (FIS), who had cancelled all remaining competitions of the 2021-22 season that were to be held in Russia.