KATLEGO PHEEHA

The Formula 1 season started on 16 March with the Australian Grand Prix. The 58-lap race saw McLaren-Mercedes’s Jenson Button take first place and 25 points. Close behind were Red Bull Racing-Renault’s Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, another McLaren driver. Next on the calendar was the Malaysian Grand Prix on 25 March.

At the start of the year, Ferrari unveiled their new car which is designed to counter Red Bull’s dominance in recent seasons. The new car finally proved its worth, as Fernando Alonso finished the race in first place, clocking a time of two hours and 44 minutes. He was closely followed by Sauber-Ferrari’s Sergio Perez and McLaren-Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton. The next Grand Prix was held in Shanghai, China and saw Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg take the chequed flag for the first time in his career after 111 races and six years of waiting. Jenson Button had a frustratingly long pit-stop which saw him drop to second place, trailing Rosberg by 20 seconds. Hamilton took third place and earned himself a third consecutive podium finish.

On the golf course, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen narrowly missed out on winning his second major title at the76th US Masters at Augusta National. The final day of the contest saw him and self-taught American golfer, Bubba Watson go head-to-head for the green jacket. Oosthuizen looked set to claim his second major title, having dominated proceedings. However, on the second sudden-death hole when Watson made par, Oosthuizen was unable to match it and bogeyed the hole, which saw Bubba Watson win his first major championship.

On the rugby front, it has been an absorbing start to this year’s Super Rugby season. The biggest surprise of the season has been the Auckland Blues, who went into this year’s tournament as firm favourites, having been beaten last year in the semis by eventual champions the Queensland Reds. This year, the Blues turned heads when they signed Hurricanes’s outcasts and All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu. The New Zealand outfit, however, has not lived up to the hype and have only recorded one win in seven matches, leaving them at bottom of the New Zealand conference. For South Africa the only disappointment has been the Lions. Many expected their performances in Super Rugby to improve, having won the Absa Currie Cup last year. This has not been the case as they have only managed a single Super Rugby win this season and currently sit at the bottom of the table in both the South African Conference and the combined log. One other talking point was whether three-time champions the Vodacom Bulls would remain competitive this year after having lost the likes of captain Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha to retirement and transfers abroad. The Bulls have shown that they remain a strong force with a convincing start to their campaign, which included a 61-8 thumping of defending champions the Reds. The log leaders thus far are Chiefs (31 points), Stormers (29 points) and Brumbies (24 points), who lead their conferences and occupy the top three spots on the combined log. The three wildcard spots are occupied by the Bulls (29 points), Highlanders (26 points) and the Hurricanes (25 points).

In football, the English and Spanish football leagues are at the business end of the season with both leagues being closely contested. This year, the Barclay’s Premier League has been a tug-of-war between defending champions Manchester United and their newly revived neighbours Manchester City. With only four games left to play, Manchester United held a five point lead over City heading into their clash with Everton on 22 April, with United and City set to play each other on 30 April at the Etihad Stadium in a title decider. City are chasing their first league title in 44 years while United are looking for a record-breaking 20 league titles, 13 in Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign as manager of the club.

In Spain, the title race is even tighter between arch-rivals Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona. Having let a comfortable 10-point lead slip through their fingers, Real Madrid are aiming to withstand the momentum that Barcelona have built up. Following a surprising week in the UEFA Champions League, where both teams lost their semi-final first leg ties to Bayen Munich and Chelsea respectively, the teams faced off this past Saturday in the El Grande Clasico. The two clubs could also face each other in the UEFA Champions League final if they manage to overturn their first leg deficits in their semi-final second legs on 24 and 25 April.

Image: Motorsportpress.com

Website | view posts