Valentino Rossi has confirmed he will ride at Motegi in October, ending months of speculation that safety concerns could derail the Japanese event.
Rossi was one of a number of riders reluctant to commit to traveling to Motegi until the situation – and safety – of the region was assured following the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan in March.
The Italian confirmed in a pre-race press conference at Aragon that he would ride at Motegi, however, a stance which now seems to reflect the majority of the MotoGP paddock.
"I will go to Japan to make the race," Rossi said. "All the controls are negative so it looks quite safe, and I will be in Motegi."
Rossi told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport that feedback from independent agencies had been crucial in making his decision.
"These months I've talked to knowledgeable people who have analyzed the data from ARPA, which has gone to Motegi for Dorna, but also from an American agency who did the same job for the IndyCar Series. On top of that with Ducati we've heard from another agency and we are all calmer. This is why I've decided to go. After all, either us riders were all united, or I couldn't do much all by myself."
Rossi did, however, leave the door open for others to miss the race, saying rumors that people had been threatened with dismissal were wrong and that everyone deserved to make their own choice.
"For me [the threat of] dismissal is too much, for everybody. For sure all the controls say that it is not very dangerous, but it remains a quite dangerous zone and I think in this occasion all employers need to be open minded. If one guy is scared to go, he needs to have the chance to decide."
Turning his attention to Aragon, which marked a revival for Ducati in last year's championship, Rossi said he hoped a change to the front end could see a similar upturn in the team's performance this season.
"We tested in Mugello last week, and we tried an aluminum front, not carbon," Rossi said. "The lap time was not so bad, but importantly the feeling at the front is quite good.
"It is just the first step, but the feeling has improved. Last year Ducati was very strong with [Casey] Stoner and also Nicky [Hayden], so we hope we can keep fighting and can get closer to the top guys."