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?

Source: GPoneMotocuatro; Photo: Ducati Corse

  • archer

    Japan needs this event. Japan needs to have some normalcy return. Japan will not stay kicked to the curb by what nature has wrought. This race is more than just another MotoGP race. It is part of the healing process.

    I hope it goes forward.

  • Winger

    The solution is simple. They simply put a full radiation suit over top of their leathers and then they go racing :)

  • I understand that this decision isn’t easy for all motoGP people (staff, crew, riders, officials…) but we must bare in mind that Japan is the land of nearly all motoGP bikes (except Ducati).
    It would be part of the healing process, but it would also be a way of showing motoGP support to Japan.
    I hope Motegi will see the race this year!!! But I’ll understand if it doesn’t…

  • 76

    Japan has bigger problems on its hands, this isnt about healing this is about the japanese acting like everything is back to normal and saving face, to who I dont know other than themselves, The riders will boycott this event, I put money on it

  • Westward

    They should find an alternative site or cancel altogether. It is not fair to force the decision on the racers, their crew, the paddock girls, or anyone else that makes a living via the sport… Ten years from now, when the chef in the DUCATI hospitality tent dies of cancer, then what…? At least Japan saves face… Sorry, but not a good enough argument…

  • iNcognito

    I’m prettttty sure that the organizers will assess the safety concerns and will decide accordingly. If it’s deemed safe then all riders should go.

    Talking about saving face is rediculous. Let’s not jump to conclusion and assume anything.
    Jorge rocks a sticker on his bike in support for Japan but he’s afraid to go? There are ways to check for radiation and there are studies that tells you what is safe and unsafe! Don’t be a wuss. This ain’t the ww2 era, most of the civilized countries act humanely now.

    I hope to see and hear the roars of the motogp bikes on their home soil! Let this be a positive for Japan during this difficult time.

  • Japan needs this GP. They need to heal, and they need to watch their brands racing and wining.

    Aside from that, the question is simple to solve: To measure the radiation levels and check if they’re ok.

    Think that the MotoGP paddok get easily more radiation levels from continental flights and broken bones x-rays than they could get in Japan by October .

    Thing also that most high radioactive particles has short half-life and from Fukushima to Motegi there are more than 160km.

  • steveo

    visit a southern track I heard Suzuka is still paved and didn’t get hit badly??? There is no reason to Go to Motegi if its at all damaged or unsafe…

  • Chester

    I think it’s very simple, if the riders are concerned about radiation, their fears should be addressed. If there is evidence that they could be in danger then obviously it should be canceled. If this isn’t the case then it should continue if possible.

    That said I live in Japan and am greatly looking forward to the event. With the Tokyo Motorcycle Show canceled earlier this year as well as other local racing events after the earthquake, it’s been quite boring.


  • jr

    Radiation is not an issue for Montegi , the track is far away from the Nuclear Plant.

    The state of the track surface could be an issue if it sustained damage from quakes but then Montegi is that far away from where the big quake and the bigger afterquakes were, that it should not be an issue either.

    The world is full of wankers and obviously the GP circus has plenty of them. What a joke “I am young and do not want to take the risk” that comment from a GP rider is just too funny.

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  • smoothcriminal

    The show must go on….

  • @Jr “The world is full of wankers and obviously the GP circus has plenty of them. What a joke “I am young and do not want to take the risk” that comment from a GP rider is just too funny.”


  • 9fingers

    “The world is full of wankers and obviously the GP circus has plenty of them. What a joke “I am young and do not want to take the risk” that comment from a GP rider is just too funny.”

    Yeah, what a joke. There are people living there for the rest of their lives. The track is in a very populated area and they are “scared” to be there for 4! days?!

    I don’t buy this kind of worry for one minute, there must be an ulterior motive behind it.
    But they are making clowns of their-selves repeating it.

  • Tom

    archer, Japan needs to shut off those damn reactors! I’m several hundred miles away, but I’m not to attached to the idea of living here long term. I have no desire to die of cancer just so I can go to onsens and eat sushi.

  • JoeKing

    Here are the current radiation levels around Japan

    Motegi is in the Tochigi prefecture. Notice the 5/23/11 reading….060. When these fearless(?) MotoGP riders fly on an intercontinental flight they are exposed to 122X that level of radiation.

    Rossi recently called the current group of MotoGP riders pussies. Pretty accurate, he can now add ignorant.

  • Taerkasten

    the best form for support the japanese are precisely doing the race, some riders put’s stickers for simpathy and support and they quotes sounds very hypocritical Lorenzo we are calling, did you show support to the japanese?, then race and show some professionalism, the guy has show the contrary actualy.

    Even in the bad moments, the race would make them happy for some time, the paddock needs to be positive.

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