Whilst acknowledging his disappointment that the Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi will no longer be held this weekend due to the ongoing global travel chaos caused by the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull last week, Andrea Dovizioso has hinted that the race's postponement could in fact play in Repsol Honda's favour.
With lingering ash clouds resulting in widespread international flight cancellations and the consequent impossibility of transporting team personnel and equipment across to the other side of the world in time, Repsol Honda's 'home' race has had to be re-scheduled for 3 October, just before the similarly 'flyaway' outings in Malaysia and Australia.
“Well, there is nothing we can do and this volcano event is so strange that we only have to accept it!” mused a phlegmatic Dovizioso, who finished a superb third in the Losail curtain-raiser earlier this month, less than two seconds shy of victory. “I am a little disappointed because I was very much looking forward to racing at Honda's home GP after the good result I had in Qatar. Moreover, we were going to visit HRC before the race and I was looking forward to that too.
“The Motegi racetrack is special and has some characteristics which are different from other tracks, so I wanted to see how the 2010 RC212V worked there. From the riders' and fans' point-of-view it is a pity of course, but I think that technically it can be a small advantage for us because now the technicians have more time to work on the developments we've asked for.”
“It is a real pity for me that the Grand Prix has been postponed because Motegi is a track I love, and this is a race that motivates me a lot because we have always achieved good results in Japan,” echoed the Italian's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who following a lightning getaway faded to an eventual seventh place under the spotlights of the Gulf state.
“It is also a very important race for Honda and a big disappointment for the fans. Anyway, at least we were lucky to be at home when this happened because many people are stuck in Europe without being able to move and, with all the travelling we do during a season, it could easily have been us who were stranded somewhere. I hope the situation gets better quickly and we can race without problems in Jerez next week.”
Indeed, the 2007 world championship runner-up's own home grand prix is due to take place only a week later still, with the principal concern now being that of successfully getting riders, teams and bikes to southern Spain in time. Repsol Honda team manager Toshiyuki Yamaji conceded that the Motegi announcement was a shame – but, in the circumstances, somewhat 'inevitable'.
“I have been involved in motorcycle racing for more than 20 years with HRC, but I've never seen a race cancelled because of a volcano before!” he quipped. “First and foremost, we feel very sorry for all the fans who were looking forward to attending this race, and we really hope that they can come to the Twin Ring Motegi in October for a re-scheduled Grand Prix of Japan. It's also disappointing for us, because Honda's home race is always a special occasion for everyone in the team – but of course we fully support the organisers' unavoidable decision to postpone this race.
“Many people, including members of the Repsol Honda Team, wouldn't have been able to travel to Japan and the flight cases containing the bikes and equipment were also still in Europe, so the decision was inevitable. However, we're very pleased that it seems likely that we can still look forward to a Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi in October. I hope the situation in Europe improves quickly and all the people who have suffered disruption in this episode can return to normal as soon as possible.”