Audi dominate Le Mans
Audi defended their Le Mans 24 Hours endurance title on Sunday, with Germany’s Andre Lotterer taking the checkered flag for the second year in a row in a first victory for a hybrid car. The dominant German manufacturer swept the podium in their 11th win in the past 13 years at the Sarthe circuit. They won last year with a diesel engine. “It’s really superb as when you come here for the first time you don’t know how the technology will work out,” Audi motorsport head Wolfgang Ullrich told reporters after the 80th edition of the race. The No. 1 diesel-hybrid R18 — shared by Lotterer, France’s Benoit Treluyer and Switzerland’s Marcel Faessler — led for most of the race and denied Denmark’s Tom Kristensen a ninth win in the No. 2 Audi.
Clijsters wins in return
Kim Clijsters made a winning return to action on Sunday, beating Switzerland’s Romina Oprandi 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Unicef Open at ’s-Hertogenbosch grasscourt tournament in the Netherlands. Former world No. 1 Clijsters, who had not played since March because of a right hip injury, was the champion in this pre-Wimbledon event in 2003. She was beaten in the second round by Oprandi last year — a match in which she suffered a right ankle injury that forced her to miss that summer’s Wimbledon. “It was very close today,” Clijsters said. “Oprandi is a difficult player. Fortunately, I continued to fight and I stayed focused. The second and third sets went better and better.” The 28-year-old Belgian announced last month that she will retire after the US Open in September, but will play Wimbledon and the Olympics before bringing the curtain down on her career.
Fichardt wins St Omer Open
South Africa’s Darren Fichardt captured his third European Tour title on Sunday when he won the St Omer Open in France by three shots. Fichardt had started the final round five shots clear and braved high winds on the final day to card a two-over par-73 to seal the victory at five-under. Gary Lockerbie, who signed for a 69, was three behind, with fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield, who bogeyed the last for a 72, four off the lead. Fichardt won the 2001 Sao Paulo Brazil Open and the 2003 Qatar Masters and played in the 2000 World Cup alongside fellow South African Retief Goosen, and he drew on his vast experience to see out victory on Sunday.
Horwill out for season
Australia captain James Horwill is likely to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on the hamstring injury that forced him to miss the ongoing series against Wales, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said yesterday. The lock sustained the injury in what he described as a “freak” incident in his final Super Rugby match before the test window and specialists yesterday indicated the need for an operation, which will take place today. “While there is still some hope that Horwill may recover in time to feature on the ... spring tour in November, it is more likely that he will not be ready to return until next year,” an ARU news release said. Horwill took over from Rocky Elsom as Wallabies captain in a shock move before Australia’s departure for last year’s World Cup having led the Queensland Reds to their first Super Rugby title. His absence for the rest of the season means he will miss the inaugural Rugby Championship, which replaces the Tri-Nations from this year with the addition of Argentina.