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GP Week : Issue 125
CASEY Stoner has said he will refuse to go the Japanese GP, rescheduled for October 2, no matter what the result of a special report commissioned on the riders’ behalf by Dorna. “I will not go,” said Stoner, at the post- qualifying Press conference. “ That’s my opinion. I’ve had it for some time, but I’ve not said so before,” he said. Jorge Lorenzo, a leading light in the ‘No’ campaign, said: “I made this decision a long time ago.” Of the front-row qualifiers, only Dani Pedrosa was equivocal: “A lot of riders don’t want to go, but the situation there is not so clear,” he said; while Rossi, speaking after the race, said: “I am very happy that Casey and Jorge are so clear. For me it is better we don’t go ... but I will wait until next week, speak with the other riders, then report. I don’t want to take a very clear position now.” The situation has escalated as the rescheduled race approaches. It was postponed from the original April 24 date after the catastrophic earthquake and tsumami in March. The riders’ fears were triggered by the failure of the Fukushima nuclear plant, where workers are still battling to control the situation, and there is a 30km exclusion zone round the crippled plant. Other reports have suggested radiation danger up to 120 km from Fukushima, and the Motegi circuit is approximately 110 km away. At Mugello all the MotoGP riders except for Japan’s Aoyama signed a petition stating their objection to visiting Japan and requesting an independent report on the risks. But Stoner and Lorenzo said they would not wait for the report, whether positive or negative. Asked if it was not a contradiction, as they were still wearing “With you Japan” stickers on their bikes and had offered verbal support. “I don’t see it as a contraction,” said Stoner; while Lorenzo said: “If we don’t go, nothing will be different in Japan. Going there is not a real support.” Stoner said he had discussed his decision with Honda, “but not thoroughly”; but the move brings them into direct contention with their Japanese employers. If the race is cancelled as a result of the riders’ refusal, it will trigger a daisy chain of broken contracts and potential law suits: riders with teams, teams with IRTA, IRTA with Dorna and Dorna with the Motegi organisers. “ The contracts can only be broken through force majeure,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “ The riders asked for an independent report and we have commissioned one. We get the results at the end of July, and make a final decision on the race then. I believe that some of the riders who signed the petition will go to Japan.” IRTA president Hervé Poncharal earned a round of applause when he said: “If all the lights are green, we must supply riders for the race. We can replace riders if necessary. Each team needs to make a decision with their riders. “I think this situation shows a lack of respect for the Japanese people, and for the race organisers. Japan has done a lot for motorcycle racing, and now they are suffering. We should show respect, not only by selling signed T- shirts or stickers.” DANI Pedrosa was criticised by race direction after he approached them at Mugello to demand a greater punishment for his Le Mans assailant Marco Simoncelli. “He should forget it now and move on,” said race director Paul Butler. Like many people, he recalled the 2006 incident at Estoril, where Pedrosa had lost it under brakes and taken down his own team-mate Nicky Hayden, almost costing the American the World Championship. But the rider insisted his position was fully justified. Asked what was the difference, he said: “It is quite clear. “ The difference is that in 10 or 11 years, I made one mistake. He did it so many times that I lost count on my fingers. “Also, I lost control and crashed into Nicky. Simoncelli did not lose control, but he crashed into me.” Asked if he agreed, Hayden said: “One difference is they weren’t team-mates going for the World Championship ...” Motegi: Confrontation looms as Stoner and Lorenzo say no Pedrosa v Simoncelli Part IV ... 16