Finally, some good news for MotoGP fans in Japan. The latest to have confirmed their participation in the Motegi GP that was re-scheduled for October are Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo.
It could be noted that earlier Jorge Lorenzo had voiced concern about his participation along with Casey Stoner, but now the entire squad of Yamaha have confirmed they would be attending the event at Motegi.
Stoner too was found softening his stance on the issue now leaving Rossi as the only rider to oppose racing in Japan.
The race at Aragon this weekend would see Stoner and Lorenzo battling for the title with the Aussie having a comfortable 35-point lead over the Spanish rider.
Rider concerns regarding nuclear safety in Japan due to the recent earthquake have been criticised by both the commentators and fans who said there was indifference between support for quake-hit Japan shown on team and bikes liveries and reluctance of riders going to Japan.
Japan is important to MotoGP being the only tyres supplier and also due to Japanese manufacturers occupying most of the grid slots in MotoGP.
It may be recalled about the Motegi issue being discussed at Indy a month ago by all the MotoGP riders concerning about participation or boycotting the event as they didn’t know what was exactly going on in Japan now. The discussions held at Rossi’s motor home came to a standstill where riders walked out without coming up with a definite solution.
The Japan Grand Prix at Motegi was poised to be run on 24, April 2011, but was delayed to be held in October. The reasons behind the decision were the recent events of tsunami/ earthquake that shook the nation badly with bad consequences following the catastrophe with Fukushima plant (nuclear) seriously damaged. The facility was found to leak radiation to nearby areas hence was unstable aftermath the catastrophic events. There were readings that were taken of radiation levels at that time surrounding Motegi that did confirm same levels to the ones recorded in Tokyo. The radiation levels were found to be lower than acceptable limits. This report wasn’t that convincing to MotoGP riders that didn’t trust the report made by the Government. Even Dorna’s exclusive report saying levels were safe for riding isn’t trustworthy for the riders scheduled to take part in the Japanese GP who further ponder about the core’s stability in Fukushima.
Criticism was sharp from many MotoGP riders who attended the conference with many not making it as they’d discussed the issue earlier. However, a definite decision was not yet made at that time regarding their participation, with now Yamaha confirming their attendance and Casey Stoner agreeing to attend quite softly. The issue in Japan is a serious one if reports indeed confirm to be fake thus risking MotoGP riders’ participation, though revenues earned through MotoGP events are massive and organisers simply don’t want to lose so much money.
Yamaha’s attendance probably says it’s a Japanese event and the team would not want to miss their home race. Likewise, Suzuki and other Japanese manufacturers would be following suit hopefully. There’s nothing wrong in hosting the Motegi GP unless everything is deemed safe from a spectators’ and riders’ point of view. We’ve seen nuclear disasters before and the long-term effects left by them due to emission of harmful radiation. Furthermore, the tyre manufacturers being Bridgestone makes it even more difficult to boycott the races for both the riders and the motorsports officials. Bridgestone are the tyre manufacturers for MotoGP events. The race being postponed to October makes sense to race in Japan assuming radiation levels are either low or non-existent in areas surrounding the Motegi circuit. As told earlier, there was a sense of disparity among people on the issue and looks like proper information was never relayed between riders and teams allowing for confusion within the masses.m
With the current season heading for a presumably spectacular finish with both Lorenzo and Stoner setting their eyes on winning the Championship, there are high hopes of both of them participating to grab crucial points that would help them win the title with 5 races now left including the race at Aragon. Both Yamaha and Repsol Honda wouldn’t want to risk giving away 25 points without a fight. Five races and 125 points to be taken is not an easy let off given how important it is to win the title. Given the current acceptance of both Spies and Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) to race in Japan, a lot of positives can be drawn about the prospect of the 2011 Motegi race drawing curtains on negativity surrounding it, though top riders like Rossi are yet to confirm their participation.
However, with Ducati still struggling this season, they can simply walk off or boycott the races as it doesn’t do them any good by participating as they are neither challenging for riders’ or constructors’ title. It’s rather harsh to make a statement on Ducati like this, but this is how it looks currently or rather only a Ducati fan would understand this. Stoner too had confirmed disinterest with Rossi and Hayden earlier at Indy (IMS), but seems to have softened his voice over the matter giving us a hint that Repsol Honda are keen to participate too. As earlier said, it’s very hard for teams to make a decision on whether to attend or simply walk off as riding hard for the entire season and losing the title by not participating in a single race would be a shame. Riders should trust the Japanese Govt’s reports including an exclusive report submitted by Dorna that had sent a team of specialists to look into the situation in Japan. Riders did voice at Indy that it was a matter of trust for them to be racing in Japan.
With the majority of Japanese manufacturers occupying the grid positions and tyre manufacturers being a Jap firm too, we can be positive of a MotoGP event at Motegi.