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GP Week : Issue 78
fter training tumble Motegi Grand Prix cancelled WITH less than a week to go before the start of practice, the Japanese GP at Motegi has been cancelled due to continuing air travel disruption as the volcanic dust from an eruption in Iceland crippled air transport in most of Europe. Although official confirmation was due only today (Monday), teams had already been informed on the weekend that the event was off, and would be rescheduled in October 3, a week before the Malaysian GP. Teams' association IRTA chief Mike Trimby told GPWEEK: "Ninety percent of the teams were scheduled to fly out of northern Europe -- Paris, or Frankfurt or Schiphol."With the situation uncertain and plans for re-opening air space being deferred day by day, he said that Dorna would make a firm decision on Monday. In fact, Dorna had already decided to pull the plug, and teams were informed during the weekend that the race was to be postponed. The machines and equipment were already in Japan, having been air-freighted directly from Qatar the weekend before. But the riders and team personnel were missing. Dorna had a back-up plan in motion, with two wide-bodied jets on standby to take off from Istanbul. However, this was abandoned, in the face of continuing reports that the crisis showed no sign of lifting, and amid fears that the dust cloud might close the Turkish airport as well, even if the people were able to get there. The MotoGP event was the first major sporting fixture to be cancelled because of the air-traffic shut-down, but with travel chaos spreading world-wide it is unlikely to be the last, unless the crisis is rapidly resolved. The postponement means that the first European round, the Spanish GP at Jerez on May 2, becomes the second round. But the 18-race scheduled will be maintained, with the Motegi event now scheduled for the weekend before the Malaysian GP. This is followed a week later by the Australian round, meaning a gruelling schedule of three back-to-back flyaways at a time of the season when titles are likely to be resolved. Moto GP news >> 15