Aussie Chris Vermeulen will make a return to MotoGP action next week when he replaces injured Colin Edwards in the French Grand Prix.
Forward Racing rider Edwards has been ruled out with the badly broken left collarbone he suffered in Estoril last weekend after he was struck by Randy de Puniet’s crashed Aspar Aprilia ART machine.
The Texan’s Suter-BMW machine will now be ridden by Vermeulen, who last raced in MotoGP back in 2009 when he rode for Suzuki’s factory squad.
The 29-year-old, who won a rain-lashed 2007 race for Suzuki at Le Mans, has been without a ride in 2012 after a disastrous and injury-hit two-year spell with Kawasaki in World Superbikes.
Vermeulen, who scored seven podiums in 72 premier class starts, said: “First of all I would like to wish Colin a speedy recovery. I am grateful to have the opportunity to race back in MotoGP with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team.
"I am looking forward to my first time on the bike being at Le Mans, a circuit that holds great memories for me including a victory in 2007. I am excited to be racing at the top level of motorcycling again and look forward to working with the team.”
Forward Racing boss Marco Curioni added: “In this unfortunate situation that sees Colin Edwards unable to race until the Catalunya GP, we take the opportunity to involve Chris Vermeulen in the team for the Le Mans GP.
"Several members of the team have previously worked with him and I believe that Chris will immediately find a good feeling with the team.
"Vermeulen is an expert rider in MotoGP with experience working with the electronics and the correct use of the tyes, which are two areas in which we are currently working. Chris has previsouly won at Le Mans and knows the track well.”
Edwards is currently flying home to Texas having undergone surgery to insert 10 screws and a titanium plate in his left collarbone.
He has targeted a return to action in the Catalunya Grand Prix, which is where he broke his right collarbone last season.
The double World Superbike champion now has a total of two plates and 23 screws holding together both collarbones.