Protestors march on Friday as Bahrain GP looms

2 Comments

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.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.