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Motor racing: Hand on heart, Ricciardo says he feels right with Renault

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Motor racing: Hand on heart, Ricciardo says he feels right with Renault

ENSTONE, England (Reuters) – Hand on heart, and kitted out in new black and yellow overalls, Daniel Ricciardo says it feels right to be with Renault — even if he has yet to develop a Frenchman’s taste for frogs’ legs and snails.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium – August 23, 2018 Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Files

The smiling Australian, a seven times race winner with Red Bull, is preparing for a new chapter in his Formula One career at a team eager to get back to the top after returning as constructors in 2016.

His decision was not an easy one, with plenty of nights spent agonizing before he made his mind up on a flight from London to Los Angeles last August, but he has no doubts now about the move.

“Even if I really didn’t feel it, I’d probably try and make up something that it did feel right. But, hand on heart, it does feel right,” Ricciardo told reporters ahead of the launch of his team’s new car on Tuesday.

“The process of deciding what to do was stressful but once I’d literally made the call, I was instantly de-stressed and that hasn’t changed.”

The Australian’s relaxed and bubbly personality, and laughing manner, have already put a spring in the step of his new team mates.

Ricciardo had the assembled factory workforce eating out of his hand as he addressed them on Monday night, assuring them he was “stoked” and “it all feels real now in the suit.

“I definitely feel part of the team,” he declared. “From the few I have met already, you’re not bad. I think we can become friends.”

Renault Sport Racing managing director Cyril Abiteboul told reporters that Ricciardo could be the spark needed to ignite the team on track.

“It’s been a huge boost, a huge motivation,” he said of the Australian’s arrival alongside German Nico Hulkenberg.

“We’ve put a lot of the right ingredients in three years in terms of people, resources, investment but at some point you need something that is igniting the mixture.

“And that is the sort of thing I’d like to see coming from Daniel.”

Ricciardo said his dream was to do at Renault, world champions in 2005 and 2006, what five times world champion Lewis Hamilton has achieved with Mercedes after his well-timed move from McLaren.

“There’s definitely part of that which inspires me. If I was able to do that here I wouldn’t complain,” he said.

Other aspects of working for a French team were more of an acquired taste.

“I did eat snails and frogs’ legs and pigs’ feet the other day. That was my induction into being French,” he revealed with a grin, recalling a trip to Paris with food served up by a leading chef.

“Knowing they were things I wouldn’t (normally) eat kind of put me off. So the frogs’ legs, I didn’t know what they were. And when I ate them I was like ‘ah, it’s kind of chicken or fish’. So it wasn’t that bad.

“Then when he told me it was frogs’ legs…”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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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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