Riders still want Motegi cancelled

Jorge Lorenzo believes '99 per cent' of the MotoGP paddock would prefer the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix to be called off, as riders continue to express fears over the radiation risk in the country

Riders still want Motegi cancelled

The Motegi event was postponed from April to October following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in early March. But it is the potential for radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power station damaged in the disaster that has caused most concern among the MotoGP fraternity.

"I wasn't really convinced to go to Japan, and still I am not," said Lorenzo. "Last night I watched a movie on a Spanish channel, called 'Chernobyl: 25 Years Later'. I don't trust the government - not the Japanese government, but all the governments and the information they say. This is my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong.

"I guess 99 per cent of riders are not very excited to go there. But I don't think many of them will not go if the race is on."

Asked if he would boycott the race, Lorenzo replied: "I don't know. I can't say to you I will go or not go. I will try to get information on what will happen if I don't go, and then I will decide. I think I have the most strong position to not go of the riders."

Lorenzo held a meeting with former Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi on Friday to discuss the Japan issue, and believes the leading riders could unite to get the race cancelled.

"I tried to speak with Valentino because he has strong power in the safety commission, and if some of the strong riders decide not to go I think the race will be difficult for the organisation to make it," said Lorenzo. "But I don't know if he or some riders are completely decided to not go. It's a question we will know [the answer to] in some weeks."

Rossi said on Saturday that he believed series chief Carmelo Ezpeleta was firmly behind the race going ahead so a cancellation was unlikely, though he also emphasised the riders' concerns and felt it was too early for MotoGP to commit to returning to Japan.

"Carmelo and all the guys say 99 per cent that the race is taking place," said Rossi.

"I think a lot of people are scared about this situation. A lot of riders and a lot of other guys came to me to say this.

"I think the best way is to wait two or three months to understand how the situation develops, and we will see. But I think the grand prix is on."

Rossi's Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden is among the riders with fears about the radiation risks.

"I don't know a lot about radiation and all that," said Hayden. "I love the Japanese GP, it's a special GP and there's definitely a buzz about it. I like Japan and I want to go and support the country.

"But it seems like it's not smart. Just from the information I've got - and I've not been watching CNN all day or anything - radiation is so unknown. Nobody knows what could happen. It could be 10 years down the road, or 20 years. I think it's not even worth the risk. We're all going to look stupid in 10 years if we look back and we went there for one race and we're all having problems."

When asked if he felt it was strange that riders participating in a sport as potentially dangerous as MotoGP were so fearful over radiation, Hayden replied: "That risk we take is a known risk. We know what we're getting into. Here is something out of our control."

Casey Stoner argued that his main objection to the Japanese event was not the radiation risk, but that it would be inappropriate and inconvenient to hold a sporting event in a country recovering from a horrific natural disaster.

"With the whole nuclear situation it's difficult to know what to understand and who to believe and things like that," he said.

"My view is that I think the motorcycle race is the most unimportant thing for Japan right now, and maybe all this time and effort can be spent to do something better than a motorcycle race.

"In my opinion, I don't think we should go. I think 99 per cent of the riders and maybe more of the paddock don't want to go for these reasons."

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