Rossi may secure title
American John Hopkins posted the fastest time yesterday in free practice for tomorrow's MotoGP Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi, Japan. Hopkins, riding a Suzuki, covered the 4.8km Motegi circuit in 1 minute, 47.952 seconds during the afternoon practice session. Italian Loris Capirossi was second fastest with a lap of 1:48.053. American Kenny Roberts Jr. was third with a lap of 1:48.263, while six-time world champion Valentino Rossi of Italy was fourth fastest, 0.622 seconds off Hopkins' best lap. Rossi has eight victories this season and can wrap up the 2005 title tomorrow. The Yamaha rider needs just 20 more points to clinch the MotoGP championship. Spain's Sete Gibernau was in fifth place followed by Nicky Hayden of the US. Italian Marco Melandri finished the session in eighth position, ahead of the 2004 Japanese GP winner Makoto Tamada and Brazilian veteran Alex Barros, who had been the fastest in the first session.
Sorensen wins Stage 18
Denmark's Nicki Sorensen won the 18th stage of the Spanish Vuelta by less than a second in Avila, Spain on Thursday, while defending champion Roberto Heras retained his overall lead. Spain's Santos Gonzalez was pulled from the race by his Phonak team after blood tests showed irregularities, organizers said. He was eighth in the overall standings. Sorensen, of the CSC team, rode the 197km stage in central Spain in 5 hours, 5 minutes, 34 seconds. Just behind was Spain's Javier Pascual Rodriguez, and countryman Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta was 22 second back. Three-time winner Heras finished in a pack of riders just under four minutes later to remain 4:30 ahead of second-placed Denis Menchov. In the last mountainous stage of the tour, Sorensen, Rodriguez and Garcia Acosta were part of a group of 16 riders who broke away in the first climb of the stage after just 12km.
Sun shines in Connecticut
Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 24 points and came up big in overtime with a jumper, an assist and a key defensive rebound, and the Connecticut Sun beat the Sacramento Monarchs 77-70 to tie the WNBA Finals 1-1 in Uncasville, Connecticut on Thursday. McWilliams-Franklin's wide-open jumper in the extra period was all the Sun needed as they held Sacramento scoreless in overtime. Game 3 is on Sunday in Sacramento. Nykesha Sales finished with 19 points and Katie Douglas added 16 for the Sun, who were playing without point guard Lindsay Whalen, sidelined by an ankle injury. Connecticut's Brooke Wyckoff hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 70.
West Indies tour planned
India and Zimbabwe will tour the West Indies next year. India arrive in the Caribbean on May 15 for four tests and five one-day internationals to July 5. A historic first ever test will be played on the island of St. Kitts from June 22-26. It will be India's ninth tour of the Caribbean, having won only one series in the islands, in 1970-71. India has won only three of 38 tests in the Caribbean. Zimbabwe will arrive before India and play two tests and five one-dayers from April 12 to May 15. The first test begins on April 20 in Guyana, and the second starts on April 28 in Trinidad. Zimbabwe hasn't visited since 1999-2000, and hasn't won a test against West Indies. No matches will be held at Kensington Oval in Barbados due to renovations.