Japanese MotoGP postponed due to quake

Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 08:49 AM IST

London: The Japanese round of the MotoGP championship has been postponed until October because of the earthquake and tsunami, the sport`s governing body said on Tuesday.

"Due to reasons of force majeure, the Japanese Grand Prix, at the circuit of Twin Ring Motegi, originally scheduled on April 24, has been postponed to 2 October," the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) said.

It is the second year in a row that the race could not go ahead as scheduled. Last season`s race was postponed due to global travel disruption caused by an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano.

The race would have been the third round of the season, which starts in Qatar this weekend. It will now be slotted in before the Oct. 16 Australian Grand Prix.

Japan is struggling to recover from Friday`s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting catastrophic tsunami, with the looming fear of a nuclear power plant meltdown and a death toll estimated to climb to more than 10,000.

Honda Racing Corporation head Shuhei Nakamoto said in a company statement that its MotoGP programme could also be hit by the quake owing to limited working hours imposed by power cuts and suppliers also suffering difficulties.

"Many of them cannot work at the moment, and this is a potential problem for the racing activities in the coming weeks," he said.

"So far we have all the spare parts we need for the Qatar and Jerez races, but after that, if the situation will not change, we will have to manage this carefully."

Nakamoto said the decision to postpone the race at the Honda-owned circuit was the right one.

"Motegi has some circuit and grandstand damage. It will take some weeks to repair everything," he added.

Spain`s Dani Pedrosa and Australian Casey Stoner, both riding for the Honda works team, are among the favourites to win the title this season. Spain`s reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo rides for Yamaha.

Bureau Report