For Casey Stoner, this could be the week that was. That is, the week he is crowned MotoGP World Champion. The fact that it could be in the land of the rising sun, the home of the Japanese big 4 manufacturers makes it that much sweeter, if not for Stoner, then certainly for Ducati. The last time a non-Nipponese machine won the premiere class was in 1974, when an MV Agusta piloted by Englishman Phil Read prevailed. 33 years is an awfully long dry spell and it has built an powerfulful thirst for victory.
How can Casey pull this off? Simple. Score more points than Rossi and the title is his. History suggests that Ducati and Bridgestone have the cards in their favor at Motegi. Bridgestone shod machines have won every MotoGP race contested at the Twin Ring and have taken 5 out the 9 possible podium positions. Ducati has won the last two meetings with Loris Capirossi at the bars.
Not that Valentino Rossi will roll over and die for the young Australian. 'tino will be brimming with confidence in the wake of his knock-down, drag-out victory over Dani Pedrosa at Estoril. The Yamaha/Michelin package has seemingly taken great strides in the last few rounds and looks to be competitive with the Ducatis.
As for everyone else, who really cares? This could be the week that Dani Pedrosa is formally confirmed at Honda, after protracted negotiations. It will be interesting to see if Honda management has the same tight-lipped grim expressions that they wore last year when the news of Nicky Hayden's re-signing was announced. HRC brass doesn't take kindly to being forced over the barrel, as it were.
There also could be an announcement that Shinya Nakano will be returning to the Bridgestone fold astride a Gresini Honda. It is said that the evil HRC empire has had a hand in Super Shinya's placement because they feel that he can regain his form on 'stones. Cynics might also point to the fact that if Nakano and Tamada were both to leave, then that would find the premiere class without a Japanese rider for the first time in many years and we can't have that, can we? Hand-in-hand with Nakano taking the Gresini Ride, expect d'Antin Ducati to confirm that they have signed Toni Elias.
What ever the outcome of the race and the ancillary dramas, Aussies should stock up on the tinnies because there will be a World Champion from down under, if not this week, then certainly by Phillip Island.