Honda expects Casey Stoner to race in Japan

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Honda has once again made it clear it expects all of its factory-contracted riders, including world championship leader Casey Stoner, to attend the re-scheduled Japanese MotoGP round in early October.

Although Stoner appears more open to going to the Twin Ring Motegi round on October 2 now after earlier refusing point-blank to race, the Aussie still hasn't 100 per cent committed himself to competing.

He is one of a number of senior riders reluctant to race at Motegi because of fears about the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was badly damaged during the devastating earthquake that struck Japan back in March.

The fact that a recent Dorna-commissioned investigation into radiation levels in and around the Twin Ring Motegi declared the area currently safe, the independent report has done little to ease the concerns of several members of the paddock.

But HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto is expecting all of the HRC contracted riders to attend the race. That includes Stoner, Repsol Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Marco Simoncelli, who is also directly contracted to the Japanese factory.

When asked by MCN if he expected all of the Honda riders to race in Japan, Nakamoto said: "I believe all of the Honda contracted riders will come to Motegi."

Nakamoto has held several meetings with the riders in recent weeks and he confirmed to MCN that penalties for failure to race in Motegi had been discussed.

He denied though that HRC had already decided what action would be taken should any of the four refuse to honour their contract and Nakamoto added: "I have explained what is the penalty based on the contract.  There are various penalties but I don't know would be the final penalty. I just explained to the riders. One scenario is to cancel the contract but Honda has not decided any action."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt