BBC BLOGS - Matt Roberts

Archives for July 2011

Radio inactive? Japanese GP given green light

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Matt Roberts | 15:59 UK time, Thursday, 28 July 2011

The news that the Japanese Grand Prix is set to go ahead as planned following an independent report into the risks of radiation at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit - requested by MotoGP rights holders Dorna and the FIM on behalf of the riders - comes as no great shock considering the information previously available from the World Health Organisation and other government sources.


The US Department of State, for example, had already declared that the levels outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks, whilst the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been advising "against all travel to within a 37-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility with the exception of transit through the area" but added that "the situation in Japan outside of these specific areas has largely returned to normal". Motegi lies 85 miles from Fukushima.


So perhaps the most surprising thing about a sensitive debate that has been rumbling since Jorge Lorenzo first announced his intention not to travel at a press conference in Barcelona in early June, citing a documentary about the effects of the Chernobyl disaster as the source of his discomfort, is that the riders are still refusing to go.


At the German Grand Prix two weeks ago, a full week before the initial findings of the report they themselves had supposedly requested were due to be revealed, Casey Stoner's stance could not have been made clearer. “I will not go,” stated the Australian, his defiance publicly backed up by Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa as the remainder of the field, Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama excluded, reportedly made their reluctance clear to Dorna chief executive Carmelo Ezpeleta in a private meeting of the MotoGP Safety Commission.


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Madness at Mugello

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Matt Roberts | 17:01 UK time, Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Two-stroke engines screamed until they seized, souvenir-seekers dismantled pit-wall awnings and as far as the eye could see down the main straight of Mugello a sea of yellow and red bobbed and swayed to the rhythm of its own raucous chant: "Vale! Vale! Vale!"

It had been a good 20 minutes since Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner had stood on the podium to celebrate their top-three finishes in the Italian Grand Prix, but as time passed the crowd beneath it simply grew more voluminous and more vocal.

Eventually, like the Pope addressing his adoring followers from the Vatican balcony, Valentino Rossi emerged and the crowd erupted. As he waved and took a bow the home hero seemed embarrassed by the whole affair, but he knew as well as we did that if he didn't make an appearance the anarchic bonhomie could quickly turn into a full-scale riot.

Moments earlier the final minutes of our network broadcast on BBC Two had already been hijacked as our coveted vantage point on the race director's platform was invaded by pirate punters and over-zealous carabinieri, who were attempting to eject some of our crew and even official MotoGP security staff amidst the confusion.

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