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Welsh driver involved in fatal crash

Welsh sportscar driver Jann Mardenborough has been involved in a crash in a race in Germany which has resulted in the death of a spectator.

Mardenborough's Nissan flew in the air for around 30 metres. Credit: PA

Mardenborough was competing in the VLN1 event at the Nurburgring Nordschliefe when his Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped up in the air as it crested a rise in the circuit.

With the nose of the car pointing up in the air, it soared for around 30 metres before landing on its tail and bouncing over the catch-fencing into a crowd of people.

"The race was stopped to give emergency crew quick access to the circuit, and wasn't restarted. The accident occurred in the Flugplatz part of the circuit, with a competitor leaving the circuit for a yet unspecified reason and finishing up behind the safety fencing. The VLN and the organisers are deeply saddened by the accident, and their thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims."

– VLN statement

Mardenborough emerged from the car seemingly unscathed, although has since been taken to a local hospital for routine checks following an initial examination at the circuit medical centre.

Jann Mardenborough is the son of former Swansea City player Steve. Credit: PA

"Today's events have been a tragedy. We are all deeply shocked and saddened by these events and our immediate thoughts go to the deceased, those injured and their families and friends. The team is fully co-operating with the race organisers to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident."

– Nissan statement

Mardenborough is renowned for his epic rise into motor racing just four years after winning Nissan's 'gamer-to-racer' project.

In 2011, the 23-year-old from Cardiff won the GT Academy, a scheme run by Nissan and Sony that turns armchair gamers into professional racers.

Over the past few years Mardenborough, son of former professional footballer Steve, has competed in sportscars and single-seaters.

In mid-February, Nissan confirmed Mardenborough would take part in a full season of the World Endurance Championship, which includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


Williams focused on Israel win as skipper reaches milestone

Wales captain Ashley Williams has said he has given little thought to winning his 50th cap this afternoon - with picking up Euro 2016 qualifying points the only thing on his mind.

Williams in training for Wales ahead of the Israel clash. Credit: PA

The 30-year-old centre back reaches the half century mark after making his debut in a 2-0 win over Luxembourg in 2008.

Since then Williams has become an established Premier League defender at Swansea and Wales, now under the guidance of Chris Coleman, are hoping o the European Championship finals in France next year after making an unbeaten start to their qualifying campaign

That run will be tested against Group B leaders Israel on Saturday but Williams insists Wales are ready for the challenge on a night when he reaches his own personal milestone.

"I am obviously aware it is my 50th (cap) but I will enjoy it after the game. This is one of the biggest games for me, alongside my debut and getting the captaincy for the first time, but that is something for after the game. I've just been concentrating on the game and getting the job done. That's been my focus and motivation this week and the whole squad is relaxed because we have confidence in what we are doing."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain
Williams has been in good form for Swansea in recent weeks. Credit: PA

Williams will come up against one of the form strikers in Euro 2016 qualifying at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.

Omer Damari has five goals in qualifying so far and shares the honour of being joint top-scorer in qualifying with England striker Danny Welbeck.

"They are clever and sharp players and they have got goals in this campaign. I know my unit has to be tight and we will need to be resolute and stick to the task, but we are right up for it. We are expecting a hostile atmosphere but I would rather that than playing somewhere half-empty. There is nothing better when it is hostile because those are the nights you remember."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain

Wales' qualification hopes were buoyed by picking up a point away to group favourites Belgium in November.

It means they have eight points after four games, one shy of Israel who have won their three matches and play Belgium at home on Tuesday, and Williams admits Wales have to keep picking up points on the road.

"It will be difficult but we do need to get points away from home, it is not enough to win at home. We have gone into every game looking for the win and this will be no different."

– Ashley Williams, Wales captain

Coleman: Wales ready for hostile Israeli atmosphere

Wales manager Chris Coleman says his players can cope with any hostile atmosphere as his side travel to Haifa for their crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with Israel.

Coleman taking training before Wales' trip to Israel. Credit: PA

There will be a 30,000-plus capacity crowd at the Sammy Ofer Stadium for the match which pits Group B's front-runners together and Israel coach Eli Guttman has warned Wales to expect a special atmosphere.

But Coleman says that will not be a problem for Gareth Bale and company who are used to playing in front of big crowds both at home and abroad.

"...a lot of our guys play In the Premier League in front of crowds of 50,000 and 60,000 and it does not get bigger than that. We are a long away from home, but so what? We are looking forward to the atmosphere and our guys are used to playing top international players week-in and week-out."

– Chris Coleman, Wales Manager
Coleman says Wales' big name players are used to hostile atmospheres. Credit: PA

Israel lead the way in the group after winning their opening three games while unbeaten Wales lie second after picking up eight points from four games.

Coleman's side held group favourites Belgium in Brussels in November and there is a growing feeling in Wales that the current group of players can end the country's long wait to qualify for a major tournament.

"We cannot come back without anything. That is not the stage we are at. We know what we are up against and they will know that about us. Their game against Belgium on Tuesday will not exist for them, they are only thinking about us and that is not our business. This game is about us and I say that not in an arrogant way. We are getting it right and we have to continue to do that, and once we do that I will be happy. If we get the performance right then hopefully the result will follow."

– Chris Coleman, Wales Manager


Six Nations player of the championship - Alun-Wyn Jones runner-up

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell has been named as this season's Six Nations player of the championship.

The 35-year-old Munster lock, who led Ireland to a gripping Six Nations title triumph last Saturday, secured more than 26 per cent of a public vote.

Wales forward Alun-Wyn Jones was second in the voting. Credit: PA

Wales forward Alun-Wyn Jones was second, with Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw pipping Wales fly-half Dan Biggar for third place.

O'Connell becomes the first Irishman to gain the accolade since his current team-mate Tommy Bowe five years ago.

A shortlist of 12 players was decided through a combination of match statistics, analysing the best performing players across a set range of criteria and then followed by a public vote.

A total of 70,448 votes were cast, with O'Connell gaining 18,842 of those.

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