No pressure to race in Japan, says Dorna boss

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MotoGP bosses have denied putting Valentino Rossi and a host of other top MotoGP riders under immense pressure to travel to the forthcoming Twin Ring Motegi race in Japan.

Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta denied insisting that Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner attend the October 2 race, despite the trio expressing grave reservations about travelling.

Rossi is worried about the safety of the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was badly damaged during a devastating earthquake that hit Japan back in March.

An independent report commissioned by Dorna showed the risk of radiation contamination in the area around the Motegi circuit was negligible.

But nothing has convinced Rossi, who has yet to commit 100 per cent to racing in Japan next month.

Despite a disastrous debut season with Ducati, the nine-times world champion is still the major box office draw for MotoGP and if he does boycott the race, it would be a PR disaster for Dorna.

But Ezpeleta told MCN: "I have never tried to convince Valentino or anybody else to go where they don’t want to go. The only thing I did was give to them the information we have and as I said from the beginning of this history, everybody is free to take his own decision."

The threat of a rider boycott disrupting the race is diminishing rapidly though. Yamaha issued a statement yesterday stating that Lorenzo and factory team-mate Ben Spies will attend the race, even though it was only a few weeks ago that the Spaniard was adamant he wouldn't travel.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt