Yamaha has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will miss the next round of the MotoGP world championship, with Dutch world superbike star Michael van der Mark set to substitute on the Italian’s YZR-M1.
Rossi missed last weekend’s race at Misano after breaking his leg in a training accident, handing the Dutchman a dream debut in the premier class. The 24-year-old will work with Rossi’s usual mechanics, headed by team director Massimo Meregalli and crew chief Silvano Galbusera, as he goes into the race without any prior testing of the bike.
Speaking of Van der Mark’s appointment, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis said: “Following Valentino’s crash on August 31st, Yamaha decided not to replace him at the San Marino Grand Prix, but for the next Grand Prix in Aragón the team is obliged to enter two riders. It being virtually impossible for Valentino to be fit to race in Aragón, Yamaha decided to search for a capable replacement from within its own pool of contracted riders. Having previously used Katsuyuki Nakasuga to fill in for Jorge Lorenzo in 2011 and Alex Lowes to replace Bradley Smith in 2016, we decided that Michael van der Mark should have the opportunity this time around. It is never easy to step in to replace another rider and even more difficult to replace Valentino Rossi, but we believe that Michael has all the credentials and experience to do a good job. We will give him our very best support and wish him every success for this exciting opportunity. We also hope that Valentino will continue to make a rapid recovery and that we will see him again, back on his YZR-M1, on the earliest possible occasion.”
While Van der Mark is a MotoGP rookie, the Yamaha world superbike rider has plenty of top class experience, having won the Suzuka eight hour race three times, as well as the Supersport and Superstock 600 world titles in recent years. His Grand Prix experience extends to a mere seven 125cc Grands Prix for the uncompetitive Lambretta team in 2010 and a Moto2 wildcard in 2011, however the Dutchman is no stranger to the Aragon circuit, which is also used in the superbike series.
“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to ride the YZR-M1 at Aragón,” said Van der Mark. “I’ve never ridden a MotoGP bike before, so this will be a completely new experience for me. I’m very curious to see what it feels like to ride on such a machine. I realise that it won’t be easy going straight into an official practice session without any prior testing. Nevertheless, I’m very grateful to Yamaha for the opportunity. I’m sure it will be a great learning experience.”
The Aragon round of the MotoGP world championship takes place on the weekend of 22-24 September.
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