Ulster, Ospreys get wins
Scrumhalf Paul Marshall grabbed a brace of tries as last season’s runners-up Ulster began their new European Cup campaign with a bonus-point 41-17 victory over French side Castres on Friday. Winger Andrew Trimble also crossed at Ravenhill in Belfast, as did South African replacement flyhalf Ruan Pienaar in the last minute, after a punishing 17 phases following a loss of possession by Castres. Paddy Jackson converted three of the tries and added five penalties for Ulster. Ulster, the 1999 European champions, are now unbeaten in six matches this season. In Friday’s other game on the opening night of this year’s tournament, Welsh side Ospreys also secured a bonus-point victory with a last-minute try from Ashley Beck. Eli Walker and Hanno Dirksen, with a brace, scored the other tries, with flyhalf Dan Biggar kicking 18 points at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium. Treviso scored two tries through Manoa Vosawai and Luke McLean.
Lorenzo secures pole
Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo secured his sixth pole position of the MotoGP season with a record last-gasp spurt in qualifying for today’s Japanese Grand Prix. The Yamaha rider clocked a record lap of 1 minute, 44.969 seconds as the checkered flag fell at Motegi’s Twin Ring circuit yesterday, comfortably faster than main title rival Dani Pedrosa’s Honda. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow was third quickest in 1:45.257, with the US’ Ben Spies, also on a Yamaha, fourth in 1:45.336. Australian world champion Casey Stoner, returning after ankle surgery, was seventh quickest on his Honda in 1:45.745, having missed the last three races.
Ivanov quits Lokomotiv
Former Bulgaria striker Georgi Ivanov has quit as coach of Lokomotiv Plovdiv a day after agreeing a contract until the end of the season, the club said on Friday. Ivanov, twice Bulgarian Footballer of the Year, was officially presented to the media at a news conference on Wednesday, replacing Emil Velev, who was fired following Lokomotiv’s disappointing start to the season. Ivanov, 36, who resigned as Levski Sofia coach in April, decided to quit after a training session on Thursday, saying he despaired of the “organizational chaos.” The club’s owner, Veselin Mareshki, failed to persuade him to return at an emergency meeting on Friday. Lokomotiv’s administrative director Atanas Uzunov also resigned, saying he did not want to face fans who criticised him for the club’s policies, and honorary president Hristo Bonev announced he would “no longer occupy any position at the club.” Lokomotiv, champions in 2004, have won one of their eight league games so far this season and are 13th in the table with eight points.
Fisher extends lead
Ross Fisher of England shot a 4-under 67 on Friday to extend his lead at the Portugal Masters to three strokes after the second round. Fisher hurt his left foot while walking off the first tee, but he played through the pain to make one eagle and four birdies to go with two bogeys on the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, who shared the overnight lead after round one with Fisher, and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria were three shots back. Ryder Cup player Martin Kaymer, who sealed Europe’s dramatic win over the US two weeks ago, and captain Jose Maria Olazabal both missed the cut.