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Hulkenberg geared up for Australia

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DRIVING FORWARD: Nico Hulkenberg says he is aiming for ‘a lot of success’ in Formula One this year

DRIVING FORWARD: Nico Hulkenberg says he is aiming for ‘a lot of success’ in Formula One this year

Force India aiming to break records in new season

The 2015 Formula One season was yet another record breaking year for drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, as the pair drove the team up the leaderboard into a best ever fifth placed finish.

Ending the season with a flurry of point finishes, the constructors finished just 51 points behind racing giants Red Bull-Renault.

As drivers prepare for the start of the 2016 campaign in less than two weeks time, the German Hulkenberg reflected on his previous calendar year.

CHEMISTRY: It will be the third year in a row that Hulkenberg has lined up alongside Sergio Perez for Force India

CHEMISTRY: It will be the third year in a row that Hulkenberg has lined up alongside Sergio Perez for Force India

“From a team perspective, we had our best year [last year],” he said. “The updates we brought to the car worked well and there were some great days.

“For me personally, it was a year in which I learnt a lot. I can honestly say it was not a season in which everything went to plan, but I’ve come out of it as a better driver.

“And of course, 2015 is the year in which I won Le Mans, which is as special a memory as you can get in this sport.”

Drivers and constructors take to Australia for the start of the 2016 F1 season on Sunday 20th March.

A repeat of last year’s double points finish would be a positive start for Force India, yet Hulkenberg says he is aiming for more records to be broken this time around.

Asked what he hopes to achieve this year, he said: “A lot of success, hopefully.

“We seemed to find the sweet spot with the car at the end of last year and we want to maintain this form in 2016.

“The car is similar; the team hasn't changed and I am ready for the challenge.

“I want to stand here in November, look back at the season and be happy because it has been my best season ever in Formula One. And if I can get a few podiums along the way, that’s even better.”

It is the third year running that Hulkenberg will line up alongside his Mexican teammate Perez for Force India, representing the longest partnership in the constructor’s history.

The 28-year-old will be competing in his fifth season for Force India and said it was ‘very important’ to build up a stable environment.

“Too often people look at the surface - the car, the drivers - without looking at the structures behind,” he said. “When you work with people you know well, from the crew to the management, you're at ease and can concentrate on getting the best out of yourself and the car.

“I am lucky to be in a very cool team with some of the best people in the sport. Everyone is hungry to keep progressing and I think we can do that again this year.”

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9,000 mile journey set to be world’s longest

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The world record for the longest direct flight could soon be smashed after Qatar Airways announced plans to provide a non-top route from the capital of Qatar – Doha - to Auckland in Australia.

The 9,034 mile journey would be just under 500 miles further than the current record – held by Qantas’ Dallas to Sydney route (8,578 miles) and would take an estimated 18 hours and 34 minutes.

In what is a busy time in the aviation business, Qantas will definitely lose their record in March when Emirates launch a direct flight from Dubai to Panama City, lasting an exhausting 16 hours 55 minutes.

Singapore Airlines has also shown interest in the record, with talks of re-scheduling its direct flights between New York and Singapore in 2018. At a distance of 9,535 miles, and journey time of 18 hours 50 minutes, it would be the longest single flight recorded.

New statistics suggest that as many as 1,100 new services will be launched in 2016 by 170 airlines around the world.

With such long distances now being covered in direct flights, it looks like it might be worth booking the extra leg room after all.

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Muslim bride shocks audience

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Hundreds of stunned onlookers in Sydney breaks into applause as newly-wed lays her wedding bouquet as tribute

This bride has caught international attention after laying her wedding bouquet at the memorial site of the Lindt Cafe siege site in Australia.

SYDNEY SEIGE: Newly wed bride Manal Kassem took a detour on her big day to place her wedding bouquet at Lindt Cafe site as a mark of respect to the victims of the terror attack in Martin Square

SYDNEY SEIGE: Newly wed bride Manal Kassem took a detour on her big day to place her wedding bouquet at Lindt Cafe site as a mark of respect to the victims of the terror attack in Martin Square

The 23-year-old, identified as Manal Kassem from the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, made a pilgrimage to Martin Place on her wedding day – Saturday 20th December.

The site, where gunman Man Haron Monis held 17 hostages inside the Martin Place cafe, has been turned into a memorial site where thousands have laid tribute to the victims of the deadly siege.

Hostages Katrina Dawson, 38 and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34 as well as Monis were killed in the 16-hour stand-off which rocked the nation last week.

But at the weekend, all eyes were on Ms Kassem who was adorned in a white dress, hijab and veil when she laid her wedding bouquet on the river of floral tributes to the siege victims.

The bride from the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl approached the expanding floral tribute on Saturday with her groom, Mahmod Homaisi, as hundreds of onlookers stared, a witness said.

When Ms Kassem laid her wedding bouquet onto the ground, they erupted into applause.

The bride had chosen the city for her big day photoshoot, but changed her mind after the siege, according to her wedding planner.

Manal Kassem was adorned in a white dress, hijab and veil when she laid her wedding bouquet on the river of floral tributes for the victims.

After watching the wedding party approach, the city crowd broke into applause.

The 23-year-old bride had chosen the city for her wedding photoshoot, but was hesitant after the siege, says her wedding planner.

muslim bride sydney 1_2"She was going to cancel (the photoshoot) because she didn't want to be judged... celebrating her wedding in a scarf while people were terrorised," wedding planner Dina Kheir told press.

"But she made it her priority to visit the memorial site as the first pit stop.

"She did it out of respect for her country, that will one day be the country of her children and grandchildren.

Members of the public observe the thousands of floral tributes left near the site of the Sydney cafe siege in Martin Place

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Three dead after 16-hour Cafe siege

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Armed police officers stormed the cafe after 16

Armed police officers stormed the cafe after 16

Police storm Sydney shop after gunman standoff

A gunman, who burst into an Australian chocolate shop taking more than 15 customers hostage, was shot dead alongside two captives on Tuesday, after a tense standoff with heavily armed police.

The Australian authorities charged the Lindt Cafe shop in Sydney at around 10am on 16th December, killing the suspect known as Man Haron Monis.

The sound of gunfire was heard around the store, whilst explosions are believed to have been flash bang grenades, used by the police before they stormed the shop.

GUNMAN: Man Haron Monis, pictured previously, took hostages in the Lindt Cafe shop on Monday

GUNMAN: Man Haron Monis, pictured previously, took hostages in the Lindt Cafe shop on Monday

Tori Johnson, a manager at the store, was tragically killed, according to Lindt Chocolate Cafe Australia, whilst the other hostage to lose their life in the standoff has been identified as 38-year-old mother of three, Katrina Dawson.

Six people at the scene were treated for injuries.

Speaking at a news conference during the siege, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said: “We don't yet know the motivation of the perpetrator.

“We don't know that this is politically motivated although there are some indications that it could be. We have to appreciate that even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm.”

He later added of the victims: “These were decent, good people who were going about their ordinary lives ... who got caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual.”

Monis was an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh known by authorities for sending hate mail to the families of Australian troops who had lost their lives in Afghanistan.

Born in Iran as Manteghi Bourjerdi, he migrated to Australia in 1996, and was involved once again with the law last year, charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife but had been freed on bail.

During the siege, hostages were seen in the window holding a black flag with Arabic writing on, and despite initial beliefs it was related to the Islamic State, these links were soon removed.

Meanwhile, residents in Australia rallied around the Muslim community during the hostage taking, with many heading to the micro-blogging site, Twitter, using the hash-tag ‘#I’llridewithyou’.

Garnering over 110,000 tweets in less than half a day, the message was offered to members of the Islamic faith, from individuals saying they would not be frightened, or hesitate sitting next to, people wearing religious clothing.

In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and, days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife.

The Lindt cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip that was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.

FREE: One hostage flees the shop and runs to police after being held by the gunman

FREE: One hostage flees the shop and runs to police after being held by the gunman

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Hosts lose out as Aussies advance into Semi’s

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India’s men’s hockey team succumbed to a disappointing 7-2 defeat at the hands of Australia last week as the side crashed out of the World League Final in Delhi.

Despite taking a 2-0 lead, the hosts were unable to handle the power of their opponents who ran away with a convincing victory after Russell Ford top scored with a brace.

It all started so well for India who, after just 11 minutes, stormed into a shock 2-0 lead.

First, Birenda Lakra opened the scoring in the sixth minute before Yuvraj Walmiki sent the home crowd into dreamland, catching the Aussies on a counter-attack before firing in a second just five minutes later.

The world’s second best side were in unknown territory yet like any good team they soon regrouped and took the game to their opponents.

DEFEAT: Yuvraj Walmiki’s early strike was not enough to prevent India falling to a heavy 7-2 defeat to a rampant Australia side

DEFEAT: Yuvraj Walmiki’s early strike was not enough to prevent India falling to a heavy 7-2 defeat to a rampant Australia side

Nicholas Budgeon reduced India’s lead to the single goal, converting from a penalty corner and setting the visitors on their way to a big score.

Jason Wilson equalized five minutes later before Glenn Turner marked his 100th cap with a fine effort to give Australia the lead just prior to the half time whistle.

Three goals in the space of six second half minutes finished the game off for the dominant Kookaburras as a double from Russell Ford were sandwiched in-between a Simon Orchard strike.

Jacob Whetton rounded off the scoring, taking the score to 7-2 and cementing Australia’s place in the semi-finals.

“The physiological make-up of the Indian players needs to develop further,” Walsh said. “Our players are up against big, strong men and when it is like that, fatigue sets in.”

India will now be hoping to finish the tournament strongly as they face-off in the fifth-eighth semi-finals (teams who were eliminated in the quarter finals).

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