Rossi takes victory in thrilling Dutch TT

Valentino Rossi secured his first MotoGP victory in over a year as he took the chequered flag in Assen. The Italian fought of stiff competition for Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci to take the win, whilst Marc Marquez rounded off the podium.

Rossi Assen

Image: BT Sport (@btsportmotogp)

It was fellow Yamaha rider Johann Zarco who made the strongest start, converting his pole position in to an early lead. The Frenchman led a breakout group, with Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci moving well clear of the pack.

With 15 laps to go, Rossi made his move, hitting the front ahead of Zarco, There was a bit of contact as Zarco tried to snap straight back at the Doctor, but this didn’t affect Rossi, and allowed Marquez to pass Zarco.

Shortly afterwards, Petrucci muscled his way past Marc Marquez in to second, but the real excitement started when, with 8 laps remaining, the white flags came out, indicating that there was rain and that riders were allowed to come in and change bikes.

Andrea Dovizioso, who had been having a quiet race by his recent standards, pushed past both Zarco and Marquez on the same lap to put himself in to podium contention, before hunting down Petrucci on the following lap.

During this time, Johann Zarco, who had been on the softer option tyre, decided to swap bikes to a wet race set-up, a gamble that proved unsuccessful as he would be unable to make up the lost time, and even suffered a penalty for speeding in pit lane. Only Hector Barbera, Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo followed Zarco in changing to wets.

Rossi looked to be getting clear as the two Ducatis battled amongst themselves, but Petrucci was able to break clear and catch the leader. The two Italians battled it out for the final few laps for first, with Rossi leading in to the final lap. The Pramac Ducati rider looked to have the pace to take his first MotoGP victory going in to the final sector, but lost time lapping Alex Rins, who Rossi had passed smoothly. This enabled the 38 year old to take his tenth win at Assen across all classes, finishing 0.063 seconds clear of Petrucci.

Cal Crutchlow appeared from nowhere to join the race for the final podium position in the final stages of the race. The Brit passed Dovizioso and Marquez with ease, but the factory Honda rider fought back. Marquez just managed to better Crutchlow, holding him off by 0.042 seconds.

Last year’s race winner Jack Miller finished sixth, ahead of Karel Abraham in seventh. Loris Baz, Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaro rounded off the top ten.

It was a miserable day for the Brits, apart from Cal Crutchlow of course. Sam Lowes crashed early on, and was soon followed in to the gravel by SBradley Smith. With two laps remaining, Scott Redding completed the hat-trick of British riders crashing out.

Dovizioso’s fifth place sees him move to the top of the championship, after previous series leader Maverick Vinales crashed out having fought back to fifth place after a start to forget. Dovizioso leads the championship now by four points, with Rossi a further three points behind Vinales, and Marc Marquez only eleven points off of the lead.

In Moto3, Aron Canet secured his second win of the season, preventing a fantastic comeback from Britain’s John McPhee, who ended up third after making up sixteen places to catch the leaders. Franco Morbidelli celebrated securing a MotoGP ride in 2018 with another Moto2 victory. The Italian has now won five of the opening eight races.

The next race is the German Grand Prix at Sachsenring on the 16 July.

Vinales Takes Win In France After Bumper Last Lap

Maverick Vinales took advantage of a disastrous last lap for Valentino Rossi to win the French GP. The Spaniard moves to the top of the championship standings with the win, whilst Dani Pedrosa moves up to second after his third place finish. Johann Zarco secured his first MotoGP podium at his home Grand Prix with his second place finish.

Vinales Le Mans

Image: Crash.net

After Zarco’s strong start from the front row, Maverick Vinales soon took over the lead and looked in control of the race. Vinales led the group of Yamahas who broke free, with Johann Zarco and Valentino Rossi following.

Marc Marquez managed to catch up with the leading group, but crashed out with 11 laps remaining. That left the top three well clear of the rest of the field, with Rossi and Zarco trailing Vinales. But with six laps remaining, Rossi slipped underneath Zarco at turn 2 and began to hunt down Vinales.

Rossi recorded consecutive lap records as he chased down his team-mate, and then passed him in a repeat of his pass of Zarco. But it was a disaster of a final lap for the Italian, who first ran wide, allowing Vinales to retake the lead, and then lost the front as he attempted to regain top spot.

This left the door open for Zarco to secure a second place at his home Grand Prix, whilst Dani Pedrosa picked up third after a lonely ride.

Andrea Dovizioso managed to edge out Cal Crutchlow in the latter stages, whilst Jorge Lorenzo finished sixth, ten seconds back. Jonas Folger overcame the challenge of Jack Miller, whilst Loris Baz finished ninth in his home Grand Prix. Andrea Iannone rounded off the top ten.

Among the British riders, Bradley Smith and Sam Lowes both picked up points, finishing thirteenth and fourteenth respectively. Scott Redding was forced to retire early on.

Joan Mir took the win in a shortened Moto3 race, after an oil spill caused half the field to crash out on lap two. Danny Kent secured tenth on his return to Moto3 after his split with Kiefer Racing in Moto2. John McPhee came just behind Kent in twelfth place. Franco Morbidelli continued his run of winning every race that he has finished this season, securing his fourth win of the season in Moto2.

European Finals To Be Available Free

BT have announced today that both the Champions League and Europa League finals will be free to watch on TV, online and on YouTube. This follows suit from last year, where this was also the case.

UCL_Final

Image: WalesOnline

The Europa League final will be broadcast from 7pm on Wednesday 24th May, and will feature the clash between Manchester United and Ajax. The Champions League final will be played in Cardiff on Saturday 3rd June, and will feature European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus. Coverage of the final will start at 6pm.

Both games are available on YouTube (YouTube.com/BTSport), on the BT Sport app, online at BTSport.com and on the BT Sport Showcase HD TV channel, and are available completely free.

5 Things You Might Have Missed From This Weekend’s Football

As the season nears the end across Europe, titles and relegations are beginning to be confirmed. This weekend saw titles confirmed in England and the Netherlands, whilst fans of French and Italian football will have to wait for their champions to be crowned. Elsewhere, Bayern completed an incredible comeback in their 5-4 win over RB Leipzig, Real Madrid remain in control of La Liga after a 4-1 win over Sevilla, whilst Benfica were crowned champions in Portugal.

Chelsea Clinch Premier League

West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League - The Hawthorns

Image: FourFourTwo

On Friday night Chelsea travelled to West Brom looking to seal their second Premier League title in the last three years. The Blues were four points clear with three games remaining, so a win would see them confirmed as champions. The Blues dominated the match, but struggled to break through the resilient Baggies. But substitute Michy Batshuayi netted his second goal of the season with just eight minutes to go, meaning that the celebrations could begin.

Hull Suffer Relegation

hull relegated

Image: Hull Daily Mail

At the other end of the table, Hull City were relegated to the Championship following their 4-0 demolition at the hands of Crystal Palace. After Swansea had beaten Sunderland on Saturday, Hull needed at least a point to mathematically avoid relegation, although even that would have left them needing a significant swing in the goal differences. A defensive mistake from Andrea Ranocchia in just the third minute set the tone for the match, and Palace raced to secure the victory that kept them in the division.

Juventus Title Celebrations Delayed

Roma

Image: Daily Mail

In the week that Juventus secured their place in the Champions League final, they had the chance to secure their six consecutive Serie A title as they travelled to second place Roma. But it wasn’t to be for Massimiliano Allegri’s side, who went down 3-1 to Roma. Mario Lemina put Juve in the lead, but goals from Daniele De Rossi, Stephen El Shaarawy and Radja Nainggolan ensured that the gap at the top was cut to four points. But Roma’s hopes of breaking the monopoly still remain slim, as Juventus host eighteenth place Crotone next weekend.

Monaco Effectively Seal Ligue 1

AS-Monaco-vs-Lille-OSC

Image: Daily Mirror

A Falcao brace helped Monaco take a step closer to their first league title since 2000, as they beat Lille 4-0. A superb run from Kylian Mbappe set up Bernardo Silva for a tap-in, and a late own goal completed the rout. The victory sees Monaco three points clear of PSG, with a game in hand. PSG, who dismantled Saint-Etienne 5-0, would need Monaco to lose both of their remaining games, whilst the champions would need to win their final and hope for a significant goal swing to secure a fifth consecutive title.

Kuyt Hat-Trick Seals Feyenoord Title

kuyt

Image: Sky Sports

On the final day of the Eredivisie season, Dirk Kuyt netted a hat-trick to secure Feyenoord’s first title in 18 years. Feyenoord went in to the final day a point clear of Ajax, so needed a win against Heracles Almelo to secure the championship. Kuyt wasted no time in getting the ball rolling, scoring after just a minute, and adding a second after just twelve minutes. He completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot with just a few minutes remaining. Even a late consolation goal was not enough to stop Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side from clinching the title, ahead of Ajax, who managed a 3-1 win over Willem II despite naming the Eredivisie’s youngest ever team.

Marquez Continues American Dominance

Marc Marquez extended his winning run on American soil to nine races after securing a comfortable victory at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas. The world champion saw off early pressure from his team-mate, Dani Pedrosa, who ended the race in third, with Valentino Rossi splitting the two Repsol Hondas.

Marquez Texas

Image: Crash.net

After qualifying on the second row, it was Dani Pedrosa who made the strongest start, with pole sitter Marquez following him closely. It wasn’t long before the first incident of note, as the so far infallible Maverick Vinales slipped off of his Yamaha on a long right hander.

Controversy followed on lap seven, as rookie Johann Zarco tussled with Valentino Rossi. The Frenchman punted Rossi off the track through the chicanes, but it ultimately caused Rossi to actually gain ground on the leading Hondas. Race direction, perhaps harshly, awarded Rossi with a 0.3 second penalty for the incident, even though the Italian did everything in his power to avoid coming together with Zarco.

Marquez first hit the front on lap eight, but was pegged back immediately as Pedrosa blasted past him on the back straight. But Marquez had learnt his lesson, passing Pedrosa a few corners earlier on the next lap to ensure that his team-mate could not catch him on the straight.

From that point onward Marquez looked in complete control of the race. Pedrosa fell back, and Rossi was able to pass him on the final bend with two laps to go. With the 0.3 second penalty hanging over his head, Rossi continued relentlessly, opening up a two second gap in the final two laps.

The win is Marquez’s fifth consecutive victory in Texas, whilst Rossi’s second place takes him to the top of the championship, six points clear of Maverick Vinales.

Cal Crutchlow followed up his podium in Argentina with a fourth place, edging out Johann Zarco with a lap to go. Andrea Dovizioso finished as the top Ducati in sixth, whilst Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci managed to finish ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. Jack Miller rounded up the top ten.

Scott Redding finished in twelfth, whilst Bradley Smith finished just outside the points in sixteenth. The last of the British riders, Sam Lowes, crashed out on his Aprilia.

After the initial Moto3 race was red flagged, Romano Fenati took the chequered flag. John McPhee’s seventh place sees him slip to third in the championship. Franco Morbidelli continued his dominance in Moto2, finishing over two seconds clear of the rest of the field to take his third win from three races.

The next race is at Jerez on 7 May.

Vinales Takes Season Opener

Maverick Vinales followed up his pre-season form with victory in the opening race of the season. The Spaniard was making his Yamaha debut in Qatar after his switch from Suzuki, and held off the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and his team-mate Valentino Rossi.

Vinales Qatar

Image: BT Sport MotoGP Twitter (@btsportmotogp)

The race was reduced to 20 laps due to a 40 minute delay caused by rain whilst the bikes came on to the grid. This came after qualifying had been washed out, meaning that the grid was based on the combined times from free practice.

But the inconvience of the rain was soon forgotten, as rookie Johann Zarco made a flying start and hit the front. The Frenchman looked comfortable as he led his more experienced competitors, but he crashed out on lap 7.

Andrea Dovizioso seized the opportunity to hit the front, leading world champion Marc Marquez and former team-mate Andrea Iannone. As Dovizioso controlled the race, Marquez and Iannone battled for second position, before Iannone slipped out on lap 11.

It was then when Maverick Vinales, who suffered from a poor start, and Valentino Rossi, who started back on the fourth row, made their way past Marquez and started hunting down Dovizioso.

Vinales managed to catch Dovizioso, but kept being frustrated as he was unable to escape from the Ducati’s superior horsepower down the front straight. But with only a few laps remaining Vinales was finally able to gain enough of a lead to consolidate his position and take the win by 0.461 seconds. Dovizioso took second, whilst Rossi crossed the line 1.467 seconds later.

Marc Marquez, who switched to a softer front tyre during the delays at the start of the race, slipped back, but was able to hold off his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, whilst Aleix Espargaro took sixth on his Aprilia debut.

Scott Redding finished as the top Brit, finishing in a lonely seventh place, two seconds behind Espargaro and five seconds clear of Jack Miller. None of the other Brits scored points, with Bradley Smith finishing seventeenth on his KTM debut, and Sam Lowes a further place back on his first appearance in MotoGP. Cal Crutchlow suffered a race to forget, falling twice early on.

Alex Rins finished as the top rookie in ninth, just beating Jonas Folger to that accolade. Both, however, finished ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, who looked uncertain on his Ducati debut, finishing eleventh.

Joan Mir took the opening race of the day, as the Spaniard held off a group of four riders, headed by Britain’s John McPhee, that finished within half a second of the Moto3 winner.

Franco Morbidelli secured a dominant win in Moto2. The Italian took his first Grand Prix victory, 2.681 seconds clear of Thomas Luthi. Britain’s Danny Kent finished thirteenth.

The next race is in Argentina, taking place on April 9.

Southgate Names Experimental Squad

Gareth Southgate today named his first squad as the permanent England boss. With the injuries of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Danny Rose, Southgate has been forced in to naming an experimental squad for the friendly in Germany on 22 March and the World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania on 26 March.

defoe

Image: The Guardian

The main headline has to be the recall of in-form Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, who is in line to earn his first cap since November 2013. The 34 year old has 14 goals in his 27 Premier League appearances so far this term, with Harry Kane being the only Englishman to find the net more often (19).

Elsewhere, there are call ups for a number of players who featured for Southgate in the Under 21s. Southampton duo James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond earn their first call ups to the full side, whilst Michael Keane and Marcus Rashford also make the cut.

Michail Antonio’s impressive season with West Ham has seen the uncapped 26 year old selected over Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who misses out. Jake Livermore will have the chance to add to his sole cap, picked up in 2012. Luke Shaw takes the place of the injured Danny Rose, despite playing just 2 games since November.

Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck and West Ham’s Andy Carroll had been tipped for a return to the squad after Harry Kane’s injury, but Southgate has deemed them both to have not played enough regular football. Jack Wilshere also doesn’t feature as he looks to concentrate on building up his match fitness.

England Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Burnley).

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Strikers: Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).