Yamaha have confirmed that World Superbike racer Michael van der Mark will get his MotoGP debut next time out at Motorland Aragon, deputising for the injured Valentino Rossi as he continues to recover from surgery on his broken leg.
The Dutch rider will go into the weekend as a complete rookie with no previous MotoGP experience – but says that he realises the size of the task ahead of him and is setting his expectations based on that.
“I'm excited to be given the opportunity to ride the YZR-M1 at the Aragón MotoGP round. 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.”
And while many expected test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to step into the Italian’s shoes and not the rookie WSB racer, Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis says that the opportunity is in part a reward for van der Mark’s Suzuka 8 hour performance earlier this year.
“Following Valentino‘s crash on Thursday, 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.”