The Twin Ring Motegi circuit is to be home to the Japanese round of MotoGP until at least 2018. Dorna today announced that a contract had been signed with the circuit for it to host the Japanese Grand Prix from 2014 to 2018. Motegi has been on the calendar since 1999, first running the Pacific Grand Prix before taking over the Japanese Grand Prix when Suzuka was axed from the calendar following Daijiro Kato’s death.
There had been some doubt about the future of the circuit in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Motegi is just over 120km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which was badly damaged by the tsunami, and caused a massive leak of radiation.
The 2011 race at Motegi was first postponed from April 24th to October 2nd, and nearly called off after a threatened rider boycott was called off. Returning to the circuit for the next six years is a sign of the importance of Japan, and of the commitment of MotoGP to the region, which was badly damaged by the earthquake and is slowly rebuilding its economy.
The threats by Honda to withdraw from MotoGP if a spec ECU is imposed had also raised question marks over the future of the race at the Motegi circuit. The facility is owned by Honda, though run by the Mobilityland Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese giant.
That separation between the circuit and the manufacturer, and the desire of Dorna to keep a race in Japan to appease the Japanese factories wishing to remain in or join the series meant that the Motegi circuit was always top of the list to host the race. Alternative venues in Japan had other problems, making Motegi the most viable candidate.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.