Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stoner, Lorenzo 'won’t go' to Japanese MotoGP

Japan MotoGP

Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, the two leading riders in the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, have announced that they will not race in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The bombshell came on Saturday at the Sachsenring and follows months of simmering anxiety among the riders over the risk of radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. 

The Honda-owned Motegi circuit is just over 100km from the power plant, damaged during the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. 

The FIM, Dorna, IRTA and the Motegi Circuit so far insist there is no reason for the race not to go ahead on its rescheduled October 2 date. 

The findings of an independent study into any radiation risk are due to be released later this month, but at least two of MotoGP's biggest stars will not attend the race regardless of the report's conclusions. 

"I will not go," said Stoner, during the Sachsenring post-qualifying press conference. 

"That's my opinion and I've had it for some time. Not as long as Jorge. I took more time to make my decision, but I will not go there. 

"I'm sure most riders are of the same opinion. That's my decision. I guess it's up to the organisers to figure out what's going to happen." 

Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa then avoided a definitive answer, before Lorenzo was given his chance to comment. 

"I took this decision [not to go to Japan] a long time ago," said Yamaha's reigning world champion. "So I am not active in the [ongoing discussions] about going to Japan because I have already made my decision." 

Stoner and Lorenzo rejected claims their decision contradicted the "With You Japan" stickers they carry on their bikes. 

"I don't think supporting someone and being in the same place is the same thing," said Stoner. "If a similar thing happened near my home in Australia I wouldn't be going back there. It'd be the same situation." 

"I really think if we go there things in Japan will not change," added Lorenzo. "If something like that happened in Spain I would not go either. I think if we can help Japan in another way we will, but I think going there is not real support." 

Stoner currently leads Lorenzo by 19 points in the world championship. Between them, they have won six of the eight races so far this year. 

A petition regarding concerns over the Motegi race had already been handed to MotoGP officials. 

It is said to contain the names of 16 of the 17 MotoGP riders (not Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama) and "90 percent" of the Moto2 riders. 

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