With four of the five MotoGP manufacturers based in Japan, this weekend's grand prix is expected to see plenty of developments off track.

Honda built the Motegi circuit and Repsol Honda is now the only factory team still to officially complete its 2009 rider line-up, although there is little doubt that Andrea Dovizioso will be placed alongside Dani Pedrosa.

The logical location for Dovi's HRC contract to be signed is Motegi, when the occupants of the other unconfirmed RCV seats might also be revealed.

Officially, there is still one ride free at Gresini Honda and another in place of Dovizioso at JiR, although Team Scot - which will split from JiR at the end of the year - had also stated its intention to run a one rider Honda team, potentially expanding the RCV line-up from six to seven.

That appears unlikely and, with Alice Ducati's Toni Elias believed to have agreed terms for the vacant Gresini seat alongside Alex de Angelis, the complex JiR/Scot situation provides the greatest RCV unknown.

JiR previously told Crash.net it has the team, a place on the grid, infrastructure and contract with Honda for 2009. Scot claims to have a contract with Dovizioso through to the end of 2009, plus the 250cc team and, presumably, much of the funding needed to run a MotoGP team. Team Scot has said it will announce its plans this weekend.

If JiR/Scot are left to fight over just one RCV, then it is assumed that it will go to their 250cc rider Yuki Takahashi (presumably contracted to Scot at present). With Elias taking Shinya Nakano's Gresini ride - and the former 250cc title contender thought to be heading for a HRC testing role - Honda and Japan would otherwise be without a full time MotoGP rider next season.

If JiR and Scot do both get an RCV then the extra seat could provide AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies with his last chance of a 2009 grand prix ride. Spies is known to have held detailed discussions with JiR.

Outside of Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have already announced unchanged 2009 riders line-ups, while the only unknown at Kawasaki - following the signing of Marco Melandri to ride alongside John Hopkins - is confirmation of an expected third ZX-RR to be run by Jorge Martinez 'Aspar'. Aspar's plans had been based around Elias and he is now in search of appropriate substitute, but the final decision regarding the third ZX-RR should be made this weekend.

MotoGP's only non-Japanese manufacturer, Ducati, has already announced Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden for its factory team, while the satellite Alice squad looks set for an all-new Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa line-up.

Outside of rider signings, Motegi is expected to see further discussions over the possibility of a single tyre rule for 2009. The controversial move was previously tabled to help induce closer racing, but has returned under the more powerful 'safety' banner, in order to reduce cornering speeds.

Bridgestone and Michelin are united in their opposition to the rule, but it has the backing of the majority of riders and, it seems, MotoGP rights holder's Dorna. The exact position of the manufacturers is unclear. It is presumed that other methods of corner speed reduction will also be discussed.

Should a one tyre rule be introduced, considerable uncertainly remains as to which tyre manufacturers will be interested in pitching for the exclusive deal.

The proposed 600cc class, due to replace 250cc grand prix racing from 2011, should also be on the agenda. Little has been heard since confirmation, at Assen in late June, that the new class will be based on 600cc four-strokes with a maximum of four-cylinders.

The latest rumours suggest that Honda, a big supporter of the class change, will supply the engines and electronics.


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