Chapter 2 of MotoGP's Eastern Tour sees the paddock alight at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, a couple of hours north of Tokyo. After the excitement of tension of a brand new venue, the Buddh International Circuit just outside of New Delhi, Motegi is almost the polar opposite. Everything about Motegi is known: owned by Honda, and raced at since Daijiro Kato's untimely death just over 20 years ago made it impossible for MotoGP to return to Suzuka.
Honda and Yamaha test here – Cal Crutchlow was here in August, testing the latest iteration of the Yamaha M1 – and the riders, teams, and bikes all have thousands of laps around the track. MotoGP is back into its familiar routine, driving from the same hotel they have been staying in for the last decade at Mito up the hill to the Motegi Twin Ring circuit, then after the race to the same bar for Karaoke and strong drink.
Motegi is very much a known quantity. So much so that it gets its own mention in the MotoGP technical regulations: as the circuit where the brakes are tested the hardest, Motegi was the first track to be added to the list where the use of 340mm brake discs are compulsory, to prevent the brakes from overheating and fading. Spielberg in Austria and Buriram in Thailand were added to that illustrious list a little later.