News MotoGP 2022, Japanese Grand Prix, typhoon, Motegi, weather, disruption, cancellation

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is ​​in danger of being canceled due to a typhoon sweeping through southwestern Japan.

Typhoon Nanmadol has been classified as a “severe” typhoon, Japan’s most severe tropical storm, and made landfall Sunday night on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands.

With winds gusting up to 200 kilometers per hour from Monday, the Japan Meteorological Association issued a “special warning”, an alert level used only for the most extreme forecast conditions.

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Seven million people have been ordered to take shelter or evacuate. Already 200,000 homes are without electricity, while some parts of the country are expecting up to 400 millimeters of rain.

Although the typhoon’s path is expected to take it just north of the Motegi circuit by Tuesday before rolling out into the Pacific on Wednesday, the storm is disrupting air travel nationwide which could delay the arrival of MotoGP. in the country in time for the first day of tracking action on Friday.

The sport has a four-day deadline to cover more than 10,000 kilometers from Spain to Japan, but with the typhoon expected to hit the country until at least Wednesday, there is a real risk that cargo flights will not can’t land in time. getting ready for the weekend.

On Monday, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, the country’s two main airlines, canceled nearly 800 flights. More than 200 flights have been canceled at major airports in Tokyo and Osaka.

MotoGP freight and personnel are expected to leave Europe for Tokyo between Monday and Tuesday.

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The sport had already canceled Friday morning practices for all categories in light of tight deadlines and after suffering major freight delays between Indonesia and Argentina earlier this year. A technical problem on a cargo flight to Termas de Río Hondo forced the organizers to abandon Friday altogether.

But the extra half-day buffer may not be enough to account for typhoon delays if flights can’t land until late in the week.

To further complicate the decision-making, the Thai Grand Prix follows immediately after as the final leg of an ambitious triple-header of races. Although the typhoon will have passed by the end of the weekend, any delay in air traffic could cause further problems.

speed week reported that the International Road-Racing Teams Association already has a representative traveling to Japan to provide advance warning of potential issues and facilitate a smooth arrival in the event of significant delays.

Discussions had begun on Sunday evening between MotoGP organisers, teams and the circuit over contingency plans if flights could not arrive as scheduled, with cancellation due to force majeure reserved for the worst-case scenario.

Postponement is not an option given the busy nature of the schedule, with five races scheduled within seven weeks after Japan.

A cancellation would potentially benefit title leader Fabio Quartararo as Motegi’s long straights will be a boon to Ducati rival Francesco Bagnaia, although the Frenchman believes large braking zones could tip the balance of power at least a little back in his direction.

Quartararo is only 10 points ahead of Bagnaia on the titles table, but led the Italian by 91 points five races ago, with Ducati strong in the final half of the season.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been canceled for two years due to the pandemic, with the country remaining largely closed to overseas visitors until this year.

The race had previously run continuously since 1987, when it was held in Suzuka, southwest of Nagoya, before moving permanently to Motegi, about 150 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, in 2004 .

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