News out of Germany this weekend is that 15 of the 17 riders racing in the MotoGP Championship have threatened to boycott the Japanese GP at Motegi later this year because of safety concerns. Lead by Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, who publicly announced Saturday at the post-qualifying debriefing that they would not race in Japan, the riders are worried about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, despite Motegi officials (essentially HRC) declaring the Twin Rings circuit safe. The planned boycott also comes ahead of an independent study being conducted on behalf of MotoGP, which is supposed to be an objective assessment of the track’s safety for host MotoGP (the results of the study are due to go public on July 31st).
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.
Ever since the Great East Japan Earthquake, there’s been a great deal of speculation in the MotoGP paddock about the status of the Japanese GP. Although postponed until October, the reality that the Motegi circuit will be able to safely host a MotoGP event is still dubious in many minds, and accordingly names of alternate venues have been banded about as replacements for the Japanese round. At the top of the list has been Istanbul, which last hosted MotoGP back in 2007.
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has seemingly put the kibosh on the Turkish GP taking over for the Twin Ring Circuit though, saying that if the Japanese GP cannot be undertaken, the round would be dropped altogether from the MotoGP calendar. Such an action would leave only 17 stops for MotoGP’s racing season, instead of the customary 18 rounds.
While Valentino Rossi may have gotten a slap on the wrist from Yamaha Racing Boss Lin Jarvis for over-zealously racing teammate Jorge Lorenzo at Motegi, the Spanish press and Lorenzo have been less reserved with their words about the final laps of the Japanese GP. This hasn’t stopped some cheekiness from the Italian press though, who put together this fake accident report after Rossi and Lorenzo collided on the Twin Ring Circuit. Watch the video above, and make the call if that assigned fault to the right rider after the jump.
After breaking his collarbone during practice at the Japanese GP, Dani Pedrosa’s chances of racing at Sepang for the Malaysian GP were held highly in question. With some close to the team suggesting Pedrosa would attempt to race in Malaysia, a press release this morning seemingly confirms that the Spaniard is out for the weekend’s races, instead intending to focus on a return at Phillip Island next week. This announcement is big news for Jorge Lorenzo, who is trying to lock up the 2010 MotoGP Championship. With only Dani Pedrosa having a mathematical chance of stealing the crown from his fellow Spaniard, Lorenzo now only has to finish 9th in Sunday’s race to claim his crown. Press release after the jump.
Noticeably absent from the silly season slogging has been the factory Suzuki MotoGP team. Although we know that Suzuki intends to stay in MotoGP for at least one more season, despite a continued tradition of mediocrity, very little other information has come forward. Perhaps at the top of the rumor heap is the speculation that Rizla Suzuki will potentially field only one bike in the 2011 MotoGP season, electing not to replace Loris Capirossi who has been linked to the Pramac Ducati team.
While Icelandic volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull grounded flights all over the world (most noticeably in northern Europe), the impact to motorcycling seemed negligible. However with the Japanese GP at Motegi scheuled for this weekend, Dorna quickly realized that teams would not be able to leave European airspace to setup camp in Japan for the next round of MotoGP. As such Dorna and the IRTA have postponed the Japanese GP, and rescheduled the event for Octoberd 3rd, between the Aragon and Malaysian GP’s.
You may remember that a month ago, Dani Pedrosa suffered a tire failure while racing at the Japanese GP at Motegi. While still able to stay in the race, fans watched as the Spainard began slowing down, unable to challenge the Fiat Yamahas any further. Pedrosa would finish 3rd for the day, but some serious questions and concerns were being asked of Bridgestone, the sole tire provider of the series.
Bridgestone has now confirmed that faulty construction of the tire allowed a foreign element to be embedded in the rubber, which later broke out, taking chunks of rubber with it.