This year is the 31st occasion the World Championship has stopped off in Japan. The first Grand Prix to take place in the land of the rising sun was in 1963 at Suzuka, although it was only for the 50, 125 and 250cc classes. The Japanese round stayed on the calendar until 1967 before the factories decided to focus purely on product development, leading to an absence of 20 years. Top class racing returned in style in 1987, when the 500cc class made its debut at Suzuka, and in 2000 a second Grand Prix was added to the calendar with the Pacific Grand Prix taking place at Motegi. The Twin Ring circuit has now taken over as the country's main circuit in place of Suzuka, which was adjudged to be too dangerous after the death of Daijiro Kato following an accident in the 2003 race.
TEAM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI READY FOR FACTORY'S HOME RACE
Team San Carlo Honda Gresini, Honda's leading satellite MotoGP team, tackle one of the most important events of the season this weekend as the series heads to Motegi for the Grand Prix of Japan. For the Italian outfit lead by Fausto Gresini it represents a third home race of the season, following Mugello and Misano. Not only is the machinery Japanese but also one of the riders - Shinya Nakano -- as well as the Bridgestone tyres and Nissin brakes. Nakano, whose best result of the season so far is a fourth-place finish at Brno, is targeting a return to the podium after disappointing performances in the last two races. For Alex De Angelis the target is to continue his education and progress at a circuit where he enjoyed some of his best performances in the 250cc class.
#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS
"Motegi is quite a technical circuit and I like it a lot. The section after the tunnel, which is a series of fast corners, is my strong part. Over the years in 250cc I have made so many passes there. It certainly won't be an easy race for us because there are so many hard acceleration points coming out of slow corners. Having said that I feel very confident about this final part of the season. The more experience I have in MotoGP the more relaxed and confident I feel ahead of each weekend. Also, having renewed my contract for 2009 can only help me to relax and focus. I hope that Motegi can be the start of a positive end to the season, especially because after Japan we have other tracks that favour us such as Phillip Island and Valencia, where I have enjoyed the best moments of my career."
# 56 SHINYA NAKANO
"I can't wait to race in front of my friends and family -- it all gives me extra motivation to do well. Motegi is a circuit I know really well and my objective is to finish on the podium -- I won't try to hide it. So far my best result this season has been fourth place at Brno so my home Grand Prix in Japan represents the perfect opportunity to better that. The new bike, which I have only been using for three races, has a good balance and I am convinced it will adapt well to the characteristics of the track. At Misano and Indianapolis, where amongst other things the weather didn't help, things didn't go well but I'm sure I can bounce back at Motegi. The most important thing this weekend is that the weather stays stable so that we can do our job on the bike and put together a good rhythm for the race."
FAUSTO GRESINI -- TEAM MANAGER
"The Grand Prix of Japan is a special event for us. We can claim to be the most Japanese team in MotoGP so we consider it to be almost our third home Grand Prix of the season, meaning there is extra pressure to get a good result. I think the potential is there and we're all hopeful of a good race from Shinya. After starting out really well with the new bike at Brno he has unfortunately struggled with two difficult races but hopefully at Motegi he can get back amongst the frontrunners. Alex is demonstrating continual progress in his rookie season and I think these final few races will see him challenge for his best results."