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In brief: Bahrain unrest a worry for F1

officials are keeping a close eye on the unrest in Bahrain with less than a month to go before the season-opening race there, Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said.

Thousands of Shi'ite protesters marched into the capital Manama yesterday after a man was killed in clashes between police and mourners at a funeral for a demonstrator shot dead at an earlier anti-government rally.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa.

Ecclestone said he had been trying unsuccessfully to get hold of the Prime Minister.

"He is a bit busy, as you can imagine," Ecclestone said. "The danger is obvious. If these people wanted to make a fuss and get worldwide recognition it would be bloody easy. You start making a problem on the start grid and it would get worldwide coverage."

The first grand prix of a season now extending to a record 20 races is scheduled for Bahrain on March 13. The 12 teams are also testing there the previous week.


Resurgent home favourite Mark Williams advanced to the last 16 of the Welsh Open with a 4-0 demolition of Marco Fu.

World No 3 Williams took a tight first frame despite Fu's break of 56 and added the second after a 51 of his own.

A run of 100 made it 3-0 and he followed that up with a 120. He next faces Jamie Cope, who scraped past Rory McLeod.

Antrim's Mark Allen was also impressive as he beat Rod Lawler 4-1 table to set up a clash with Masters champion Ding Junhui.


IRELAND'S Davis Cup boss Garry Cahill is facing a worry ahead of next month's clash against Luxembourg, with Conor Niland struck down by a chest infection.

Niland has been suffering from flu and his ailment has worsened to the extent where he has been forced to pull out of next weekend's qualifying for the top-tier Dubai Open.

The Irish No 1, who has made three straight first-round exits in ATP Challenger Tour events, will have to rely on practising with team-mates James McGee, Colin O'Brien and James Cluskey ahead of Ireland's Europe-Africa Zone Group Two tie, which begins on March 4.

"Conor's energy levels were well below normal for his last three tournaments," said Cahill. "But hopefully he will have recovered sufficiently to take a full part in practice."

Irish Independent