Make no doubts about it, Honda is set to make a statement at the rescheduled Japanese GP on October 2nd. After much hemming and hawing over whom would and would not race at Motegi, virtually every rider in the MotoGP paddock has been confirmed to be in attendance at Japan early next month, including Casey Stoner (according to Honda at least).
Whether it is because the riders have begun to believe the bevy of reports that Motegi and the Fukushima nuclear plant are safe, or the fact that the Twin Ring Circuit has already played host to several high-profile events, or even if it is the simple reality that Japanese companies like Honda and Yamaha have enormously long memories regarding issues of pride and honor, the fact of the matter is that not only will the MotoGP grid be as full as possible (there are question marks regarding Loris Capirossi’s shoulder), but Honda will field two more riders for the Japanese GP.
With Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, and Andrea Dovizioso in the Repsol Honda tent, Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama under the San Carlo Gresini banner, and Toni Elias off by his lonesome in LCR Honda, Honda already fields six motorcyclists on any given MotoGP race weekend. At Motegi, HRC will field two more racers, HRC test riders Shinichi Ito and Kouske Akiyoshi. While Ito will ride as a proper HRC wild card at Motegi, Akiyoshi will ride Elias’ second bike in the LCR Honda garage, making the satellite team a two-rider effort for the Japanese GP.
If you ever wanted a glimpse into how the Japanese side of the motorcycle industry works, consider this closing statement from HRC’s press release: “With their [Ito & Akiyoshi] participation in the Japanese Grand Prix, HRC hope to bring courage and show support for the East Japan area.”