HRC Clarification: Suzuka Not An Option As Motegi Replacement

HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto does not address the press collectively very often, and so when he does, he faces a lot of questions. Nakamoto-san held a press conference on the afternoon of the Brno MotoGP test, on the Monday after the race, convened to discuss Honda's RC213V MotoGP bike for next season, as it was being tested at that moment by Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa at the Brno circuit. Naturally, journalists took the opportunity to quiz Nakamoto on the situation around Motegi. Nakamoto's response was seemingly clear, as you can see from the transcript: though the HRC boss preferred Suzuka to Motegi as a race track, racing at Suzuka was simply not an option. The Suzuka circuit did not have the required safety clearance from the FIM, and the number of changes they would have to make to obtain homologation for MotoGP were simply not possible.

Unfortunately, something got lost in translation, and some non-English-speaking media sources misinterpreted Nakamoto - speaking good English, though with a strong Japanese accent and mannerisms - and his words on Motegi and Suzuka. As a result, reports appeared in an Italian magazine stating that Nakamoto had said that Suzuka would be an option if the race at Motegi were to be moved. The report got picked up by several other media sources and was soon being repeated throughout the media, the story going on to lead a life of its own.

The situation got so bad that today, Honda Racing Corporation felt compelled to issue an official statement clarifying Nakamoto's position on Suzuka and Motegi. The statement - show below - is clear: Suzuka is not safe for MotoGP to race at, and it could not be homologated for MotoGP. It is therefore not possible to move the MotoGP race from Motegi to Suzuka. The Japanese Grand Prix, scheduled for October 2nd, will take place at Motegi, and the MotoGP riders will have to collectively decide whether to race there or to boycott the event.

Here's the HRC official press release:

HRC clarify position on racing at Suzuka

After sections of the media misunderstood comments made by HRC Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Racing Corporation would like to clarify its position on the possibility of hosting the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka instead of Motegi.

In an open call with International media on Monday 15th August in Brno, Nakamoto stated that, although he personally likes the Suzuka circuit layout, it would not be possible to race there instead of Motegi because the circuit does not hold the correct FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) homologation to host a MotoGP race.

During the interview, Nakamoto commented:

"Suzuka Circuit does not have the correct license. To achieve the proper homologation the FIM would ask for a lot of changes and we cannot do everything. A good example is the hairpin, the run off zone is too close, but there is a road behind so it's impossible to move it any further. Without these kind of issues, Honda could consider Suzuka as an option, but at this moment we are not thinking about it".

He continued:

"Personally, I like Suzuka, because of the circuit layout, with high speed corners and low speed corners, it's a very good course for riders, a demanding and challenging course. Motegi is a little bit stop and go, overall I like the Suzuka layout more, but this is my personal opinion and has nothing to do with racing there in 2011".

Supplied by : Honda Racing Corporation

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Make the changes, get it back on the calendar. If not this year then next.

Easier said than done with Japan and Honda in particular in the situation they are right now, but it just has to be done. Even before it glowed in the dark Motegi was always a fizzer, Nakamoto knows it, the riders know it, the fans know it. Too many good circuits have been lost totally. To have one of the all time classic tracks still functioning but out of top line world championship racing for want of a few upgrades is tragic.

I watched the first couple of laps of the Spa F1 race last night. It struck me as significant that they continue to race there, in spite of the changes that have been required to keep it as safe as possible in the modern context.