Yamaha Confirm Lorenzo And Spies To Race At Motegi

Another major stronghold in the resistance to the Japanese round of MotoGP has crumbled: the Yamaha Factory Racing team has announced that the team and both of its riders will attend the Motegi MotoGP race on October 2nd of this year. The announcement means that both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will be present at Motegi, lining up alongside the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team - the first team to officially announce they would be going - of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Hector Barbera and the Mapfre Aspar team.

Jorge Lorenzo was one of the first riders to state categorically that he would not go to Japan, leading a general revolt against the decision at Barcelona after a debate which had kicked off at Le Mans, and was soon joined by most of the MotoGP riders, with the backing of many team members and crew. Lorenzo found a powerful ally in Casey Stoner: with both championship contenders initially refusing to race, the grid felt they were capable of withstanding the pressure from Dorna and the race organizers to attend the race. Behind the scenes, Valentino Rossi lobbied hard to have the race either scrapped or moved to Suzuka, both using his acknowledged political power inside the paddock, and representing many people inside the paddock who came to him because of his unique position.

But resistance began to crumble as pressure was put on the riders by their employers, being dealt a fatal blow after the publication of the report on environmental radiation in and around the Motegi circuit published by Italian agency ARPA and commissioned by Dorna. That report found that radiation levels at Motegi were normal, and comparable with levels in both Spain and Italy. The only anomaly they detected was a slightly raised level of cesium contamination from one sample of beef, but this too fell well within the EU safety limits for food imports. With no legitimate basis for their concerns about radiation at Motegi - though, as Rossi told the press at Brno, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was still cause for concern - rider unity crumbled and a collective response became impossible. A rider meeting at Misano, held in the privacy of Valentino Rossi's motorhome, established that consensus was impossible and effectively sounded the death knell of a rider strike.

With Yamaha confirmed for Motegi, Suzuki almost certain to go and the Honda riders highly likely to attend (Stoner having softened his stance at Brno, and with much pressure being brought to bear on the other Honda riders to travel to Motegi) the final holdouts are at Ducati. Valentino Rossi has repeatedly expressed his unwillingness to go to Japan, his Marlboro teammate Nicky Hayden agreeing with him. Karel Abraham and the Cardion AB team have chosen the side of the Mapfre Aspar team in attending Motegi, while the only rider with any real choice is Loris Capirossi, who announced at Misano that he would be retiring from racing at the end of this season.

Yamaha's decision does force Casey Stoner's hand. With Jorge Lorenzo cutting the deficit in the championship race to just 35 points at Misano, Stoner cannot comfortably afford to miss the race at Motegi without risking the championship. As Japanese journalist Akira Nishimura pointed out on Twitter, the two title contenders were trapped in a classic case of the Prisoner's Dilemma, a concept often used in game theory and philosophy; either both men had to refuse, or both men had to go, but neither man had the freedom to choose alone. Despite the situation, both Stoner and Lorenzo emphasized multiple times that they would make their decision solely on the evidence they had seen, free from considerations of the championship. But with Lorenzo now having committed to Japan, it is Casey Stoner's turn to make a formal announcement.

Below is the official statement from the Yamaha team on Japan:

Yamaha Factory Racing Team Press Release

Gerno di Lesmo, 12th September 2011

Team Statement: Yamaha Factory Racing confirms full attendance at the Motegi GP running Yamaha's WGP50th Anniversary special livery

Yamaha Factory Racing herewith confirms the attendance of its riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to compete for round 15 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship at Motegi in Japan on 2nd October.

The Yamaha Factory Racing team will race in Yamaha's WGP50th Anniversary red and white livery for the 4th time this year at the home GP of team owner Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.

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I think the rest will follow over the coming days. It's not a surprise Lorenzo opted to go under the championship circumstances.

Yep, I doubt that he could afford not to go at this point. Casey either.

Finally some common sense prevails.
Let's hope it will be an interesting race. And Ducati will be there. Despite being the worst bike of the pack, and thus hanging at the bottom of the standing, their absence will thin the grid too much.

Nice also to go for the Yamaha livery.

I see some or other nuclear waste site in France,Marcoule or something, has hit a glitch without a quake or Tsunami to trigger it. Just a harmless explosion and a couple of dead not leaking radiation. As per usual the authorities are all proclaiming its as safe as houses and totally contained. May aswell get out of Europe immediately after Aragon. Frying pan to fire..
Seriously,I'm glad to hear that the entire Yamaha outfit are all aboard for Motegi.
I fully expect the HRC outfit in its entirety to follow suit.
Racing and your projected life expectancy does not revolve around 'what if's'.
Ducati would do their hardcore faithfull a huge disservice by 'curring out'.

Ducati may be in a slightly more strained (or maybe liberated) position than everyone else (except Capirex).  They are almost certain to face Pit Lane starting penalties, and this racetrack is going to punish their motors as much as any other on the remaining calendar (what to do about Sepang...?)

In not attending, from the perspective of the Championship, Rossi and Hayden would only be sacrificing a small handful of points between them.  They would delay the onset of penalties (further loss of points), and would be side-stepping a venue that offers the least opportunity for success for their bikes (assuming it doesn't rain).

Naturally, they would have to sell Phillip Morris on the idea that missing the race harms the brand less with Dorna's ire upon them than trundling around at the rear for the rest of the season would.  That, however, would probably be a tough sell.

Of course with such limited testing time available, missing Motegi would cut valuable development time for Ducati. Track time they surely need.