Former MotoGP rider Shinya Nakano has described the damage inflicted on the Motegi circuit by March's earthquake and its timeline for repair.
The 2011 Japanese MotoGP has been postponed from April 24 to October 2 as a result of the devastation caused by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophes.
Doubts have been raised as to whether the Motegi circuit and surrounding infrastructure can be repaired in time for even an October date - with the added fear of nuclear contamination spooking many in the MotoGP paddock, including the riders.
Motegi is around 100 kilometres from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
However, Dorna and teams' association IRTA have both reaffirmed that the race will go ahead unless the Japanese request otherwise - and Nakano, part of promotion team for the event, revealed that track repairs are due to be completed by the start of June.
Nakano, a former 250cc world championship runner-up, rode at Motegi just eight days after the earthquake and described the damage as follows:
"I did the first run in a car and it seemed there had not been any severe damage, although when I went out on a Honda CBR1000 and took certain riding lines at speed – as in a race situation – I saw three areas which had been damaged," MotoGP.com
quotes Nakano as saying.
“There were some undulations in the braking points at turns one and three, and a small gap at the hairpin before the back straight.
“[The repair] work is scheduled to be completed in the first few days of June. The rain season is about to start in Japan, but I am planning to revisit in mid-June to ride once again and assess the track. Mobilityland [circuit promoters] has also organised its first sporting event, which will be the Japanese Championship on July 3rd, and of course I will keep watching the situation.”
Nakano added that damage to track facilities was restricted to "the glass in the VIP area, which is on the top floor of the main grandstand, but it is not a major problem.”