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Motor racing: Business as usual for Renault F1 after Ghosn exit

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Motor racing: Business as usual for Renault F1 after Ghosn exit

ENSTONE, England (Reuters) – The departure of scandal-hit Renault chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn changes nothing for the French carmaker’s involvement in Formula One, team president Jerome Stoll said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil – November 11, 2018 RenaultÕs Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg in action during the race REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Speaking at the launch of the team’s 2019 car at their English factory, the Renault Sport Racing boss told reporters that the company remained fully committed.

“OK, Carlos Ghosn is gone but (new Renault CEO) Thierry Bollore is a real fan of Formula One,” he said.

“Despite his very busy agenda, he came to (the Renault techno center) in Viry in late December to make an address to all the staff and restate the fact he was a strong sponsor and it was not because Carlos Ghosn was no more the chairman that Renault will limit its commitment to the Formula One competition.

“He came, he made his address, it was very clear — 200 people in front of him — and he said we are here, the strategy remains the same.”

Renault replaced Ghosn in January, more than two months after his arrest in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct uncovered by Renault’s Japanese partner Nissan, which he also chaired.

Stoll, 64, had been due to stand down this year but remained in place after his designated successor Thierry Koskas suddenly left the Renault Group.

Renault finished fourth in Formula One last year and are aiming to close the gap on Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull before targeting podiums, wins and a championship challenge under a five-year plan.

They have signed popular Australian Daniel Ricciardo, a race winner from Red Bull, and invested heavily in upgrading the factory.

Stoll warned however that the carmaker was very concerned by the lack of a clear plan for the sport beyond 2020 when current commercial agreements expire.

He said Renault and U.S.-owned commercial rights holders Liberty Media were aligned on key proposals such as implementation of a cost cap and the redistribution of revenues, but swift action was needed.

“The Concorde (Agreement between teams, rights holder and governing FIA) will come to an end within two years, and we need visibility to know what is going to be the next step after,” said Stoll. “My main concern is to have a decision.

“We are pushing. I had several discussions with (Formula One chairman) Chase Carey about that. He promised the decision would be taken by late last year. No decision has been taken. So I’m going to push.

“As soon as I meet him again at Melbourne (for the opening race on March 17) or maybe in Barcelona (for testing) next week I’m going to start again to push him. What is your planning? When can you take a decision? It’s crucial for us.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Keith Weir

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

After a difficult season culminated by a crucial missed field goal on a potential game-winning field goal in the NFC playoffs, kicker Cody Parkey will be released by the Chicago Bears when the new league year begins in March.

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) watches his field goal during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports on Friday, the team intends to cut ties with Parkey once the NFL free agency period begins on March 13.

Parkey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, endured an inconsistent season in Chicago after inking a four-year, $15 million contract last winter following the team’s release of Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Parkey, a five-year veteran, not only missed a career-high seven field-goal attempts and three extra points during the regular season, but his 43-yard attempt in the final seconds of the NFC wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles first hit the upright then the crossbar before bouncing back on the field.

Despite the NFL later ruling that the kick was partially blocked, Parkey took much of the public blame for the Bears’ season ending.

Parkey began his career with the Eagles in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, scoring a franchise-record 150 points while making 32 of 36 field-goal tries. In two seasons with the Eagles, Parkey never missed an extra point.

Parkey later kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and Miami Dolphins in 2017.

In January, the Bears signed Tulsa product Redford Jones after conducting a workout that reportedly included multiple hopefuls. Jones made 50 of his 67 field-goal attempts at Tulsa from 2015-17, and he does have a kick on his resume where he hit both uprights. Unlike Parkey’s double-doink, though, that 2016 attempt against Cincinnati ended up going over the crossbar for three points.

“We need more production out of that position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month after signing Jones. “We know we need to get better there, and it will be an area of focus.”

—Field Level Media

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

Belinda Bencic secured a spot in the final by stunning two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 22, 2019 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during the Semi Final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Bencic trailed 5-3 in the final set before recovering to defeat the sixth-seeded Svitolina. She will face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the championship match after the Czech Republic star defeated Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I think I’m always the most proud of how I fight,” Bencic said after posting the victory. “Even when I lose, I learned myself to just look in the mirror and be proud of myself when I’m fighting, when I’m giving my all, when I’m trying to do what I have to do.”

Bencic won eight consecutive points after Svitolina was in position to close out the match. Then the Switzerland native carried the momentum into the tiebreaker to notch one of the biggest victories of her career by outdueling the Ukrainian.

“Basically, I stayed in the zone, even in (the) tiebreak,” Bencic said. “I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Bencic will be seeking her third career title when she squares off with Kvitova, who will be shooting for her 27th.

Kvitova dropped the first set on Friday before recovering to win the last two.

“It was a tough one today, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn’t play great at the end of the first.

“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set. I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don’t know. It was something weird.”

Kvitova overcame eight double faults to claim the victory.

Hungarian Ladies Open

Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Budapest.

Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, will face fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis. The Russian dispatched third-seeded Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will face Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other semi. Vondrousova outlasted Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 while the 17-year-old Potapova fought past Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 2 hours, 50 minutes.

—Field Level Media

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlor, police in Florida said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft was one of 25 people involved in the alleged solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach County, told ESPN that the nature of any charges that the 25 people face will not be released until next week.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

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