Casey Stoner standing firm on Japanese Grand Prix boycott

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Casey Stoner has hinted he won’t back down on his refusal to attend the re-scheduled Japanese Grand Prix, despite being told by Honda management they expect him to honour his contract and race at the Twin Ring Motegi in early October.

The Aussie met HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto in Laguna Seca and was told to attend the race on October 2, despite his reservations about travelling to Japan because of fears about how safe the region is following extensive damage suffered to the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Stoner dropped a bombshell in Germany earlier this month when his announced he wouldn’t race at Motegi, regardless of whether the race was given the go ahead.

Stoner made his position clear without awaiting the results of an independent report by Italian experts, which declared the area surrounding the Twin Ring Motegi free of radiation contamination.

But the 2007 world champion, who would be in breach of contract by avoiding the race, said prior to the preliminary findings of the report being released yesterday (Monday): “There are official statements saying the nuclear reactor is not 100 per cent under control. I’ve given my opinions and I’m entitled to do that. Nobody’s reaction is going to change my opinion on that.”

Asked for his thoughts on Honda’s view that he should race, Stoner added: “I don’t believe Honda are going to push their riders to do anything at this point. This is my opinion and my judgement and nothing to do with anyone. It is something that I’ve already made my mind up. My opinion stands and that’s it.”

Stoner and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo are the only two riders to have publicly declared they will not attend the Japanese round.

But Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who also had a one-on-one meeting with Nakamoto in Laguna Seca, said further talks between the riders would take place during the forthcoming Brno race in the Czech Republic.

Speaking prior to the release of the independent report commissiond by Dorna, Dovizioso told MCN.

“It is good to wait for the results of the investigation and after that we will decide. Still every rider doesn’t want to go but it is good to wait and see what they say and in Brno we will say something about that,” said the former 125GP world champion.

Dovizioso confirmed his meeting with Nakamoto, but he added: “For them at the moment they don’t want to push to do the race because they want to wait for the result of the report. If the report says it is safe then they will push. But the riders can do what they want, so it doesn’t matter.”

So was he worried about breaking his contract with HRC?

“I think if I don’t go many important riders will not go and this means I don’t think all the MotoGP riders will have a contract for next year. What I want to say is we want to help Japan. It is not just we don’t want to go because we are riders. We want to help Japan but if it is not safe then there is no reason to go. We will see and decide.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt