The German GP was certainly a treat for racing fans this past Sunday.
More of the same is hoped for in the coming months, but the big question
in the paddock remains whether or not the riders will attend the
scheduled race at Motegi.
There is no getting away from the issue, and it has created a curious
divide in opinions. The major development at the Sachsenring was an
explicit declaration that the top three finishers in last Sunday's race
will not be going to Japan. Before, it had been a statement of intention
or preference. This time it was an unequivocal answer.
First things first: the riders have the choice as to whether or not
they participate in the Japanese round. Just as they have the choice as
to whether or not they race next week at Laguna Seca. What they also
have to do is accept the consequences of their decision.
The more farcical element of the saga becomes apparent the more the
riders open their mouths. In all likelihood, someone giving their reason
for not going as "I just don't feel comfortable going there" would be
taken as misguided but acceptable. To give specific reasons opens the
floodgates to analysis and criticism.
says that he won't go. That he might want to start a family in later
life. That it is too risky. This isn't a stance based on studies of
radioactivity levels at Motegi. And, to be fair, nobody expects a MotoGP
world champion to be au fait with scientific studies on
radioactivity - fallings out, rather than nuclear fallout, is more their
style. He has declared that he made up his mind a long time ago, in a
manner last seen when Alan Partridge was asked if he would consider
driving a Mini Metro.
You can't blame the riders for answering questions either.
Everything that has been said on the matter has been because somebody
has been asked, rather than volunteering the information.
Where they have jumped the gun is in declaring their intentions
before the independent study - requested by the riders - has been
concluded. That just makes their argument look more baseless.
The studies are important, however, for Dorna, Motegi and the FIM.
If the track is safe, travel is safe and there is no reasonable case for
the race not going ahead, then the event itself WILL be held.
Cancelling or postponing a race is something that the riders have
experienced before with the aborted Hungarian GP project and the 2010
Japanese round, which maybe gives the impression that it is an easy call
Not so. The contract with Motegi is an important one that cannot
afford to be broken, financially and in terms of reputation. Even if
nobody from the regular field decided to attend, a Dorna-run FIM
Motorcycle World Championship race will take place if the July 31
findings give the all-clear.
After that decision is taken then it is up to the riders. Nobody is
going to take them to Narita airport by force, but they do have to live
with the consequences of going against the factory's wishes. Honda,
Yamaha and Suzuki will be putting pressure on them to go. Few are the
riders who can afford to get on the wrong side of motorcycle racing's
top three Japanese manufacturers, which makes the situation a lot
different to a boycott of, for example, Le Mans.
This saga is likely to run and run, but at some point there will be
backtracking to be done. If they don't feel safe in Japan now for a
specific reason, then when will they? Will those who skip the race have
to change their opinion and backtrack at some point in the future?
It is nice to see a bit of unity between those in MotoGP, but those
most vocal about missing Motegi have not closed the book on the matter
Sachsenring discussion - Comments welcome
They call it a 'go kart track', but those twisty turns gave every
bit as much action as the free-flowing circuits held in greater regard.
Pedrosa goes well at the track, but who expected him to be so strong
towards the end?
Bridgestone deserve credit for their speedy reaction to rider
complaints and discussion in the Safety Commission meeting. They have
asked for an extra choice of rear rubber post-haste. It would be easy to
get complacent as a single tyre manufacturer, or grow weary about
complaints. Full marks to them for showing that feedback is taken into
What bike will Rossi have next weekend? The GP11.1 hasn't worked,
and this is getting embarrassing for 'The Doctor' and Ducati. Will they
revert to the GP11?