Keep pace

Fast cars, horses and boats. Racing tidbits from around the world.

     Print Edition: March 6, 2011

F1
Karthikeyan's back
Narain Karthikeyan is getting a second chance to prove his F1 credentials. Team Hispania Racing has appointed him as one of its two drivers for the 2011 season. Karthikeyan last raced in an F1 car in 2005 when he drove for the Jordan team. Although that ended in disappointment, he was kept on as a reserve and test driver for the Williams team. But the Indian ace believes he still has what it takes to compete in motorsport's biggest arena, having driven for the Audi team in the recently-concluded Le Mans series. Karthikeyan is the second Indian hiring for Hispania after Karun Chandhok, who drove in the first 10 races of the 2010 season before being replaced by Japan's Sakon Yamamoto.

EQUESTRIAN
No horsing around

The cricket World Cup is not the only big sports event coming up. For lovers of all things equestrian, there's the Dubai World Cup-the world's richest horse race-to look forward to. This invitationonly affair, which started back in 1996, sees the world's top three and four-year-old thoroughbreds competing for a purse of $10 million. The race is a creation of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is one of the world's leading horse breeders and trainers. Some 312 horses from 18 countries have been nominated to the 1.25-mile race scheduled to be run on March 26. Leading the group is Gio Ponti, who finished fourth in the race last year. The event will also see another eight races being run, which together, command prize money worth $16 million.

Dakar rally rolls on
The famous offroad Dakar Rally was successfully staged for the third successive year in Argentina and Chile last month. The story began in 1977, when motorcyclist Thierry Sabine got lost in the Libyan desert during an Abidjan-Nice rally and decided to create a race route that started in Europe and finished in Africa. Sabine's dream took shape in 1978, when 182 vehicles turned up in Paris' Place du Trocadéro for a 10,000-km journey into the unknown, 'Destination Dakar'. The next few years saw the rally going from France to Senegal. Due to security reasons, it shifted to South America in 2009. The race is open to professionals and amateurs, with the latter accounting for 80 per cent of the participants.

SAILING
Caribbean party
The four-day fiesta of sun, sand, music, food and high-octane yacht races that is the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, rolls again from March 3 to 6. The regatta is one of the biggest and most dynamic events in the Caribbean. Since its inception in 1980 with only 12 entrants, it has grown to more than 280 boats with 2,800 crew members of 30 nationalities. This year will see races in six classes of yachts. With four nights of frenzied partying to wind up the days of sailing, it is easy to understand their slogan of 'Serious Fun'. The Grammy-winning Wyclef Jean is slated to headline this year's Regatta.

TOUR DE FRANCE
The 22 best teams
When the event in question is the iconic Tour de France (to be held from July 2 to 24), even the announcement of teams is big news. Of the 22 teams announced for this year's edition, 18 have been chosen in accordance with International Cycling Union rules. As always, the last four teams are French 'wild card' teams picked by the organisers. With 3,471 km of racing, spread over 21 stages, along the roads of 34 French departments and a visit to Italy, the Tour is a journey through the midst of the country's cycling heartlands. After the Grand Start, hosted by the Vendée, the pack will spend time in Brittany before heading to the Massif Central for a first battle between the climbers at Super Besse. The baptism with the high mountain roads will take place in the Pyrenees, with three tough gradient stages. All eyes will be on the winner at the Plateau den Beille stage: to date, every rider who has won there has been triumphant at the end of the Tour.

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