Aussie Anthony West was refused permission to ride injured Alvaro Bautista’s factory Suzuki in the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP world championship tomorrow night.
With nominated replacement rider John Hopkins unable to make the long trip from San Diego to Doha in time for tonight’s qualifying session, Suzuki approached MZ Moto2 rider West about the vacant GSV-R ride.
But after whirlwind talks with Suzuki boss Paul Denning at the Losail International Circuit, a deal couldn’t be finalised for West to make his MotoGP appearance since he rode for Kawasaki in 2008.
Suzuki was looking for a stand-in after Bautista suffered a broken femur in a huge practice crash on Friday night.
He lost control at Turn 15 and underwent successful surgery earlier today to re-align and pin the femur bone at hospital in Doha.
He is expected to fly home to Spain on Monday or Tuesday to begin his recovery, with early reports suggesting he may be fit to return to action for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans in mid-May.
Hopkins will deputise for the former 125GP world champion at the next race in Jerez, Spain on April 3, but due to his British Superbike commitments he won't be available in Estoril or Le Mans.
Denning said: “The 2011 season hasn’t yet started and to have this huge disappointment already is very difficult to deal with.
"The winter tests have been consistent and competitive, especially bearing in mind Álvaro’s ‘race-day’ mentality and his love of fighting with the other guys rather than just riding – we always expect more from him in the races than in the tests, so everything was looking good.
"The reason for the crash was quite simple - pushing too hard in this section without enough temperature in the new tyre – very similar to (Valentino) Rossi’s accident in Mugello last year.
"But the real reasons behind that - maybe feeling some pressure after losing track time on Thursday night with the arm pump, wanting to get back into the top group of lap-times as soon as possible – are more complex and unfortunately Álvaro paid a heavy price.
"This sport is very extreme, and the edge between success and disaster is very small. We are all disappointed, but he is the poor guy in hospital with a pin in his femur and a tough recuperation ahead.
"With regard to the Qatar GP, we really wanted to find a suitable rider and have the Rizla Suzuki on the grid tomorrow but the logistics for John or Nobu (Aoki) simply didn’t allow it.
"Also, the Moto2 teams who have riders with MotoGP experience, that we discussed the option with, were understandably reluctant to release a rider at the first round of the championship.
"John isn’t happy with what happened to Álvaro, but I know he will do a solid job for us in Jerez, and we are hoping to arrange a shakedown test beforehand.
"Álvaro’s comeback timing isn’t clear, and John has BSB commitments that clash with Estoril and Le Mans, so we need to wait a while before any decisions for those races are made.”