Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi Gets the Green Light

Henny Ray Abrams | July 25, 2011

MONTEREY, CA, JULY 25 – The Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi will take place as planned after an independent report commissioned by the Dorna and the FIM found that there was little risk of radiation exposure for riders and team members.The report details radiation exposure at Motegi and the surrounding areas, including in air, food, soil and beverage samples, in the period from July 10, 2011 to July 23, 2011.

“Based on the estimate dose it can be said by no doubt that the radiation risk during the race event is negligible.” And based on that, the “FIM and Dorna Sports will announce later this week that, subject to there being no further serious incidents, the Grand Prix of Japan will take place on October 2 as planned,” the FIM and Dorna jointly said in an accompanying press release.The race was originally scheduled to take place in early April. But the March tsunami and earthquake heavily damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor on the northeast coast of Japan, forcing the postponement until the first weekend in October.From the outset, the running of the race has produced dissension in the MotoGP paddock. Sixteen of the 17 riders signed a draft document expressing their concerns at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello earlier this month. Only Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama failed to sign on.The letter was revealed during a raucous safety commission meeting at which Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was verbally attacked by at least one rider. Cooler heads suggested waiting for the report before making any decisions.Some saw the riders as being hypocritical, claiming to stand with Japan while boycotting the race without awaiting for the results of the study. At the July 15-17 German Grand Prix, Casey Stoner said he wouldn’t go under any circumstance.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took a similar hard line stance. Dorna CEO  Ezpeleta said he expects “most, maybe 80% maybe more,” of the current MotoGP, Moto2 and 125 riders to attend the race at the circuit 120 kms from the reactor. The number is likely to rise.”We undertook to hire a specialist company with long experience in these matters. We did this at the request of the riders. Now we will allow the riders to study the report and make their personal choices,” Ezpeleta said.In order to prevent the issue from overshadowing the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, preliminary English and Italian versions of the 11-page report werereleased on Monday morning in Europe, but at 1:10 a.m. Monday morning in California, where most of the MotoGP world was asleep following Sunday’s tenth round of the MotoGP World Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.