Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to race in Japan

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Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies have confirmed they will attend the forthcoming Japanese MotoGP round at the Twin Ring Motegi.

A short statement released this morning by Yamaha’s factory MotoGP squad read: ‘Yamaha Factory Racing herewith confirms the attendance of its riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies to compete for round 15 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship at Motegi in Japan on 2nd October. 

'The Yamaha Factory Racing team will race in Yamaha's WGP50th Anniversary red and white livery for the 4th time this year at the home GP of team owner Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.’

Lorenzo has been one of the most outspoken opponents about racing in Japan ever since the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered extensive damage in a devastating earthquake that hit the Far East nation back in March.

Earlier this season, it seemed certain that Lorenzo’s reluctance to attend the race on October 2 would see him breach his Yamaha contract and boycott the event.

But he has been under increasing pressure to attend by Yamaha, the Japanese factory confirming to MCN last month that it expected Lorenzo and Spies to honour their contracts and attend the race.

Lorenzo’s reluctance to race in Japan was only marginally eased by an independent report commissioned by Dorna that showed the risk of radiation contamination in the area close to and surrounding the Motegi circuit to be negligible.

And it was only last week that he told the media that his decision on whether to race in Japan would be based on personal rather than professional grounds.

He denied he would have to travel to Japan to keep his world title hopes alive and he said: “My decision on Japan is not going to be based on the championship. If I am really convinced to go then I will go. If I am not I don’t care about the championship because as I said always this year my first priority is my health.”

Yamaha had drawn up contingency plans to replace Lorenzo and Spies should either have opted not to travel to Japan and it was only last week during testing at the Misano track that Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg told MCN: “A couple of months ago he was refusing to go because he didn't feel safe but now we have all the new info which has changed his mind a bit.

"There is no document that says you should not go there. We will be there and he will have everything ready.”

Lorenzo has not been alone in his reluctance to race in Japan and as yet, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner haven't committed themselves 100 per cent to travelling.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt