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Fernando Alonso won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday from pole position to take a six-point lead in the world championship, writes James Allen in Kuala Lumpur. It was the second victory of the season in as many races for the Renault team and just as dominant as Giancarlo Fisichella's two weeks ago in Australia. "We are the team to beat," Alonso said after the race. "I wasn't pushing hard today, the car was easy to drive. I think we have a real chance to fight for the title."
Jarno Trulli converted his second place on the grid into second at the finish to give Toyota their first podium appearance in Formula One. Behind Trulli any one of four drivers could have taken third. Fisichella held the position during the opening phase of the race but later collided with Mark Webber, eliminating both cars. This allowed Webber's BMW Williams team-mate Nick Heidfeld through to grab the second podium place of his career. But it should have gone to Kimi Raikkonen.
The Finn was fourth after the first round of pit stops. But when the McLaren team adjusted the tyre pressures at his stop, a valve was not sealed properly before he restarted and the tyre deflated, putting him out of contention. His pace had been strong and without the tyre problem he could have challenged Trulli. But McLaren's main problem is that the car is slower than the opposition over a single lap in qualifying and until they solve that they will not be able to compete with Renault. Although it is a long championship of 19 races, Alonso is getting away in the points table.
This will not have escaped Ferrari, for whom this was a second disastrous race. The runaway winners of 2004 struggled here for pace in both qualifying and the race. World champion Michael Schumacher got off the mark with two points for seventh place yesterday while Rubens Barrichello retired after his rear wing was damaged by debris. Ferrari's new car has done 1,500 miles of testing and this week both drivers will try it in Italy and decide whether it is ready to race in Bahrain in two weeks' time. Ferrari needs an injection of pace. Here their Bridgestone tyres were outclassed by Michelin.
Red Bull Racing, formerly Jaguar Racing, celebrated having both cars in the points again. They now lie third in the constructors' championship with as many points after two races as Jaguar scored all of last year. The sixth place of David Coulthard, their number one driver, meant that he became Britain's top-scoring driver in history. Sunday's three points lifted him above Britain's previous best points scorer, Nigel Mansell, to fifth in the sport's all-time list. James Allen is lead F1 commentator for ITV Sport
Welsh grand slams tend to come in clusters. Teams who won three between 1908 and 1911, two in the early 1950s and three in the 70s are remembered as single entities, writes Huw Richards. So Mike Ruddock's team, who clinched Wales's ninth slam - the first requiring five victories - by beating Ireland 32-20 in the final round of the RBS 6 Nations at Cardiff, immediately enter national consciousness just below the stratospheric level occupied by those three golden eras and the All Black conquerors of 1905.
The achievement makes Ruddock and his coaching team bomb-proof at least until the World Cup in 2007 and will, by making Welsh rugby more marketable, ease the crushing self-inflicted financial pressure of interest payments on the Millennium Stadium. If off-field stability is achieved the team, with an average age of 26, is young enough to play as a group at least to the World Cup. In beating Ireland in a mediocre match but a great occasion, they displayed qualities more associated with veterans - winning because they took their chances while containing the opposition until a decisive lead had been secured. Wales's two tries demonstrated opportunism - Gethin Jenkins charging down a Ronan O'Gara kick - and the luminous attacking play that has separated them from other teams this season when Kevin Morgan completed a glorious combined move, as well as depth. Neither scorer was a first-choice as the season started, but more than filled the shoes of an injured squad-mate. Stephen Jones kicked immaculately after a shaky start while Gavin Henson again showed there is substance to go with his flashy style with a crucial, momentum-giving early drop goal and a vast penalty.
Ireland produced a defiant last-quarter and were characteristically gracious in defeat, but will feel that this year offered them a chance that may not come again. Liverpool claimed the crucial Merseyside derby 2-1 at Anfield to close the gap on Everton to four points in the race for fourth place in the Premiership and the £10m prize of a Champions League place. The home side dominated the first half and deservedly scored twice. Steven Gerrard fired the first through the Everton wall after being teed up by a Dietmar Hamann free-kick and Luis Garcia headed home the rebound after a dipping 35-yard effort by Fernando Morientes was weakly palmed on to, instead of over, the bar by goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.
A red card for Liverpool's Czech striker Milan Baros threw Everton a lifeline, and Tim Cahill capitalised with a fine strike on 82 minutes but Liverpool held on.
Birmingham won their derby against Aston Villa with goals from Emile Heskey and Julian Gray at St Andrews.
Southampton striker Peter Crouch scored twice at Middlesbrough to drag his side out of the Premiership relegation zone in a 3-1 victory, their first away win of the season. It was a fourth successive defeat for Middlesbrough, for whom Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had equalised Andreas Jakobsson's 14th-minute opener.
Rangers gained their first trophy of the season by crushing Motherwell 5-1 in Scotland's CIS Insurance Cup Final at Hampden Park. India won the second Test against Pakistan by 195 runs to go one up in the three-match series. Leg spinner Anil Kumble captured seven for 63 to dismiss Pakistan for 226 in the second innings after setting them a huge 422-run target.
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