Bahrain GP takes place without incident

By Michael Casey, AP, 22 April 2013
© AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

The Bahrain Grand Prix has been the target of rights groups which contend it glosses over the country's political problems while anti-government protesters intensified their demonstrations against the Sunni-led government.

While the race went off without incident, there were sporadic clashes in other parts of the Gulf country. Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades and rights groups said authorities launched raids on houses of several protesters.

Race organisers said they were thrilled to have an incident-free race, with security tight around the perimeter of the track to keep away protesters.

The turnout was disappointing, however, with only about 28,000 spectators coming to the 45,000-seat circuit for the race.

The 10,500-seat grandstand was about a third full and the celebrities that are commonplace around the paddock were much fewer than usual in Bahrain.

"I feel very good, we were always confident we could hold this race," said Sheik Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain International Circuit. "I think it's very important that racing stays above everything else that was talked about this week. The racing was unbelievable. That is the message that comes out. Racing is a fantastic sport."

 

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