Depending on whom you talk to in the MotoGP paddock, you might get a different impression on the state of the Japanese GP, set to be held at the Motegi Twin Rings circuit this coming October. As we are all aware, the tragic events sustained by the Japanese people after their country was hit by earthquake, tsunami, and then nuclear disaster have been on the minds of citizens around the world.
While Japan begins the process of rebuilding, the country still has to contend with the Fukushima plant, which continues to leak radiation. While MotoGP won’t make an official announcement about its plans to race in Japan until later this summer, the camps are clearly divided on whether the series should abstain (for a second year in a row) on visiting the island nation, or make the flyaway race to Motegi.
Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta, though still leaving the decision to Japanese officials, seems to be of the mind that MotoGP will race in Japan later this October. Ezpeleta is recently quoted as saying that he gave MotoGP a 90% chance of making the rescheduled Japanese GP date, which is about as much certainty anyone can have over the issue, all things considered. As for the riders, there is a visible apprehension about the safety and wisdom in running the Japanese round so close in time to the natural and nuclear disaster in Japan.
Jorge Lorenzo was quoted as saying, “I will not go, I’m young and do not want to risk,” while rival and former teammate Valentino Rossi echoed the sentiment about the uncertainty around the situation, saying “I’d rather not go.” Rossi would go on to say that the decision to race at Motegi is an unpopular one with the MotoGP racers, as everyone seems concerned about possible radiation exposure. Both Dorna and some of the GP teams have hired third-party experts to do the risk assessment of the situation at Motegi, but there are parties in the MotoGP paddock that outright refuse to participate in the Japanese GP, should it be given the final green light.
If Ezpeleta forces the situation, and goes forth with the race at Motegi, without first subduing the fears of teams, riders, and support crew, he very well could have mutiny on his hands. So far no credible reports have come back regarding the safety of the Motegi region, only those that show that the track is currently being repaired and would be ready to host MotoGP, on at least a technical basis. If you were the GP paddock, would you want to make the Motegi round?