Sending A Message: Honda Adds Two Japanese Wildcards At Motegi

The issue of Motegi continues to divide the paddock. Despite the Dorna-commissioned study finding no evidence of elevated radiation at Motegi, and the fact that the IAEA president recently declared the Fukushima Daiichi reactors were stable, many of the teams continue to fear the conditions in Japan, worrying that the radiation could still be a problem, and being particularly concerned over the prospect of further earthquakes, such as struck the region during the Indycar event being held in Motegi this weekend, without causing any damage to either the track or the stricken nuclear plant. Such has been the situation that IRTA has issued a letter to the teams in an attempt to reassure them, Autosport is reporting, promising to post daily updates of radiations levels throughout the weekend.

As a counterweight to all the gloom and doom, Honda have been flexing their corporate muscles to try and demonstrate that there is no cause for concern. Today, HRC issued a press release announcing that their two Japanese test riders, Shinichi Ito and Kosuke Akiyoshi, would be brought in to race as wildcards at Motegi. Ito is to ride as a separate wildcard aboard an HRC machine, while Akiyoshi will feature alongside Toni Elias in LCR. With Akiyoshi and Ito, HRC is upping its total participation to 8 bikes on the grid at Motegi, making it the largest supplier of machinery.

The addition of the two Japanese wildcards brings the MotoGP grid up to its largest of the year, with 19 riders expected to take the grid. It also provides a useful insurance policy against riders being injured at this weekend's Motorland Aragon circuit, or any of the riders deciding against flying to Japan to take part in the race. Whatever happens, the grid at Motegi will look a little less threadbare.

Below is the full text of the HRC press release:

Shinichi Ito and Kosuke Akiyoshi to race in Motegi with Honda RC212V

Honda Racing Corporation is pleased to announce that for the very first time in history there will be eight Honda riders racing in the MotoGP 4-stroke class at the Twin Ring Motegi on 2nd October.

In addition to the riders participating in every Championship round (Repsol Honda Team: Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner, San Carlo Gresini Team: Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama, LCR Team: Toni Elias), HRC test riders Shinichi Ito and Kosuke Akiyoshi will also race in Motegi.

Ito will be a wild card entry in a HRC Team while Akiyoshi will ride alongside Toni Elias for LCR, through their participation in the Japanese Grand Prix, HRC hope to bring courage and show support for the East Japan area.

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Is this the first announcement about Stoner participating, or have I missed something?

Though it still astounds me how many of the individuals in the teams express concern about the radiation risks as they stand around lighting up another cigarette ...

Like there was a chance anyone would really stand up to HRC? Moto2 leases all the engines from Honda, and honda could finish motogp with a wave of it's mighty hand. I love all the noise riders made, as if they matter to Honda. Hayden won a world championship and was treated like chopped liver the following year. Stoner is their golden boy now, but my guess is they think any one of several riders could be in first on their bikes. Look at the comment blaming pedrosa for the wreck with simoncelli saying "had he placed third, he'd be leading in points."
Honda is the 800lb gorilla of the gp. The question is what took them so long to get back to dominating?

Dear indesq, in response to your question: "The question is what took them (HRC) so long to get back to dominating?" - I'd say Casey Stoner at Ducati and Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha. Then last year Pedrosa & HRC turned things around, testing many different chassis during the course of the season and getting runs on the board - but then Dani was sidelined when a stuck throttle fired him down the road at Motegi. Dovizioso was content to use the same chassis most of the year and did not improve. Dani was prepared to do the hard yards, so when Stoner jumped on the bike at Valencia the day after the final GP of 2010, he topped the time sheets. It was Ben Spies who opined when the news came out early in the season that the Australian was switching to HRC: "If he (Stoner) gets on with that bike, we're all in trouble." But don't forget Dani's input, which is why Stoner was so anxious for Pedrosa to be able to test the new 1000cc bike.

I guess Montegi got wacked by a typhoon (hurricane) this morning - is everyone still going?

The poor Japanese can't seem to catch a break.

Here's another reason for me to take a closer look at the Boston Honda dealers, I've always had a thing for Honda and now I know why.