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NST Online: Sports


Bitter sweet start for Team AirAsia

Posted: 12 Feb 2011 09:21 AM PST

2011/02/12
Arnaz M. Khairul


Italian driver Davide Valsecchi finished third while teammate Brazilian Luiz Razia crashed out in Team AirAsia’s GP2 Asia series debut on Friday.

Italian driver Davide Valsecchi finished third while teammate Brazilian Luiz Razia crashed out in Team AirAsia's GP2 Asia series debut on Friday.

TEAM AirAsia had the perfect debut in the GP2 Asia series when Italian driver Davide Valsecchi finished third in Race One of the opening weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Friday night.

Valsecchi, who started from third on the grid, maintained his position throughout the race while Brazilian teammate Luiz Razia had his race ended prematurely, having crashed out on the opening lap.

Malaysia's Fairuz Fauzy, driving for the Super Nova team, was another casualty, starting from the back of the grid and was up to 17th before a shunt with another car damaged his car and put him out of the race.


Team AirAsia will be looking forward to more from the 24-year old Valsecchi who started Race Two late last night from sixth in the reverse grid order for the top eight, in with a good chance for his second podium finish in succession.

"This is almost perfect. We made a good start, kept position and avoided any incidents. Throughout the race the car felt really quick and I was happy with its balance and setup on track.

"I feel that the team are doing a fantastic job -- the pit stop was faultless so thanks to everyone involved -- we've really achieved an amazing result," said Valsecchi.


Team manager Phill Spencer said the bitter sweet start to the team's debut campaign brought about some promise of better things to come, with Razia also capable of bouncing back from a problem-plagued weekend thus far.

Fairuz had to be disappointed with the outcome thus far in his return to the series with high hopes placed on him to produce his best performance yet this season with an eye on landing a race seat with the Lotus-Renault GP team in Formula One.


"We had a good race pace but we didn't have quite enough in reserve to overtake, especially on this circuit. I'm a bit disappointed with the result as we had some contact from another car which resulted in a problem with the gearbox and my retirement," said Fairuz.

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Murali hopes to end on a high

Posted: 12 Feb 2011 07:21 AM PST


Muttiah Muralitharan  will appear in his fourth World Cup.

Muttiah Muralitharan will appear in his fourth World Cup.

COLOMBO: Record-breaking Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan goes into his fourth and final World Cup praying that he ends his glorious international career on a high.

"My role for this World Cup is to take as many wickets as possible," says the 38-year-old off-spinner. "I just want to focus on my performance and not think about anything else.

"My aim is to put up my best for Sri Lanka."


The world's leading wicket-taker in both tests (800) and one-dayers (517), Muralitharan bowed out of test matches in July last year after the opening game against India in Galle.

He recently announced that he would quit one-day internationals as well after the World Cup, which starts on Saturday in Dhaka.

Sri Lanka, co-hosting the showpiece event with Bangladesh and India, last lifted the World Cup in Lahore in 1996 and were the losing finalists of the 2007 edition.


Muralitharan admitted there had been growing pressure from home fans to repeat the 1996 feat.

"A win would be a memorable one for me and for Sri Lankan fans," he said. "A winning team is made up of players who have that mindset. It ultimately rests in the players' hands, how well we play and how well opposing teams play."

He declined to compare the present team with the one that won in 1996, saying playing technique and conditions had changed over time. Looking backwards, he says, won't help.


"1996 was one of the greatest moments for us. It put Sri Lanka on the world map. The cricket world started to take us seriously. The team have now got more professional and expectations are much higher," he said.

Sri Lanka are in Pool A with defending champions Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada. -- AFP

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