He may be a former world champion, but Wayne Gardner will not be watching this weekend’s motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
The 57-year-old is spending his days inside a police cell in the small town of Shimotsuke, which is about 120 kilometres north of Tokyo.
The police officer in charge of his custody said he would not be making any exceptions for the former motorcycle great.
“No-one in custody is allowed to watch TV,” he said.
Wayne Gardner is more than just a spectator, his 18-year-old son Remy — who has taken up his father’s former career — will line up on the track this Sunday for the Moto2 Grand Prix event.
Last Sunday, as he and his son Remy were arriving at the Motegi Twin Ring racetrack for another race, they were involved in a minor collision with another car.
It is alleged an argument ensued and Wayne Gardner now stands accused of grabbing three of the occupants of the other vehicle by their collars and pushing them. That is accused — not charged.
In Japan, a suspect can be held for up to 23 days without being charged — if police choose to hold him for that amount of time, he will be in the cell until the 7th of November.
The local police say they are still investigating the case.
They say the Gardners’ car tried to squeeze around the other car when it was making a turn off the main road, as it squeezed past, its mirror scratched the other car.
The police say the “scratched” car then gave chase and followed the Gardners into the racetrack.
That is when Wayne Gardner is alleged to have emerged from the car.
“Wayne Gardner got out of the car and he had a fierce expression. He was very angry,” one of the witnesses said.
“We just thought it was an angry old man. He had a red angry face….he was speaking all in English so we didn’t understand. He kept saying ‘No damage! No damage!’ He [was] pushing and grabbing,” the woman claimed.
Wayne Gardner denies the accusations against him.
“He’s still denying it, he hasn’t changed his story since the beginning,” the police officer said.
Long history for Gardner in Japan
Wayne Gardner has a long history in Japan.
Mamoru Moriwaki, who owns the Moriwaki motorcycle racing company sponsored Gardner’s early career.
Mr Moriwaki first discovered the 21-year-old when he was scouting for talent in Australia in 1980.
He then sponsored Gardner the following year in the US and UK tours.
On Thursday, Mr Moriwaki’s wife, who describes herself as Wayne Gardner’s “Japanese mother” arrived at his cell bearing photographs from 1981.
His personal assistant Lisa has flown in from Australia in response to the arrest.
She says her boss is holding up well inside his jail cell and was very relieved that Remy — who was also detained over the incident — was allowed to fly home in time to compete in Sunday’s race.
Remy Gardner is not facing any charges in relation to the car accident or the events which followed.
The police investigating the case say there is no chance he will be released over the weekend.
Next Tuesday will mark 10 days in custody — that is a day when police prosecutors will decide if they need him to stay in custody longer.
If he is charged with an offence, his custody will be extended until a trial can be held.
If he is found guilty of a charge of assault, he could pay a fine as penalty or serve extra jail time.