Protestors march on Friday as Bahrain GP looms

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Thousands of anti-government protestors in Bahrain marched near the country’s capital of Manama on Friday as part of a series of demonstrations set to coincide with next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

According to Al-Jazeera, the protest was organized by the opposition bloc Al-Wefaq, whose head, Sheikh Ali Salman, told the news network that while they weren’t seeking to hold up the race with their demands for reform, they were “trying to benefit from the increased media presence.”

Among other chants, the protestors — which marched in a line that was more than a mile long according to the Associated Press — shouted “your race is a crime” in reference to the event according to witnesses. Al-Jazeera is also reporting that another demonstration is planned for April 19, the first official day of the Bahrain GP weekend.

The country has denied making a number of pre-emptive arrests leading up to the Grand Prix, with Human Rights Watch claiming that 20 people were arrested without warrants.

Last year’s race at Bahrain was marred by protests and violence. One of the bigger incidents involved Force India team members having to escape from a incident between protestors and police, which involved fuel bombs getting tossed over their vehicle while they were heading away from the track. No one on the team was injured.

The continued uneasiness in Bahrain has also caused some Formula One sponsors to limit involvement in the race and move most of their advertising in the Middle East toward the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski