It was billed by the respected Italian website GPOne.com as "The Grand Prix Of Fear" and finally it's here. Unless something extremely untoward happens - highly unlikely, but the zone is one of the most geologically active regions in the world - by Friday evening, everyone will have gotten over themselves and we'll be talking about bikes on track again.
There are still plenty of signs of advanced paranoia in the paddock, however. The Italian media contingent is reduced to just a few brave souls, while the Spanish media is a little better represented, but still much thinner on the ground. The English-speaking media is actually a little more numerous than originally planned: out of sheer frustration with the panic-mongering being spread about by some of the more paranoid sections of the paddock, veteran MotoGP journalist Michael Scott has added Motegi to his itinerary, a race he would otherwise have covered from home.
The vast majority of riders are present, and all of the crew for the MotoGP teams, but a fair number of mechanics are missing from the support classes. In Moto2, for example, Alex de Angelis' team are all at home in Italy, their duties being taken over by local Japanese technicians for the weekend. In the 125cc class, the Mahindra squad only have their team manager and their riders with them, the mechanics having elected to stay at home, their places taken by temporary mechanics hired especially for this weekend.