Hold The Back Page: 07/05/2011

It's a big weekend for...

The rally legend that is mini

Alec Issigonis may have been turning in his grave when the Mini Countryman, a bloated 4x4 revamp of the trendy runaround favoured by middle-class offspring and dubious estate agents everywhere, hit the streets last year.

But this weekend the Mini's ugly sibling has its chance to step out of the shadows and restore the brand to its former racing glory in Sardinia. Back in the Swinging Sixties, Mini's rally revolution began as they romped home in Monte Carlo four times – The Beatles at the wheel with a champagne-quaffing, mini-skirted Mary Quant map-reading, I like to think. Fifty years on, the driver, Kris Meeke, is British but the team are more likely in lederhosen. No matter, Mini's DNA may now be German, but the legend is, indisputably, British.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Staffordshire University

We've all been hit by the cuts in austerity Britain since the banks played pass the toxic parcel, but be thankful that the Sport and Exercise Department at Staffordshire University still has the resources to confirm what we already know – in this case that 87 per cent of fans want to see video technology introduced. Actually, that's unfair, since through the Topfan.co.uk platform Staffs Uni adds the skin of academic research to the bones of the average football fan's less than erudite feelings, and does it well. It seems 85 per cent want goal-line technology and 95 per cent feel it would work. So why won't Sepp Blatter introduce it? The overriding view of the internet generation is that Fifa is conservative, comfortable and scared of change. You don't say.

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Streamlined Thorpedo

Ian Thorpe, Australia's five-times Olympic champion whose love of cakes saw his weight balloon after his retirement in 2006, is well on track to making less of a splash as he dives back into the pool. "He's back to his race weight," said his manager, Dave Flaskas, before adding a tad mischievously: "This is no half-baked comeback." Thorpe, hoping to race at London 2012, was at the royal wedding last week, when his slimline features attracted speculation that he may have gone under the knife. "He hasn't got time for that," said Flaskas.

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