MNC’s sources in the MotoGP paddock believe that German rider Jonas Folger could be set to make a more permanent return to the championship next year, stepping in as the head of Yamaha’s new European-based test and development team.
The 24-year-old stepped away from the series last year with ill health exacerbated by the high-stress circumstances of racing a MotoGP machine. But, now making a recovery and recently taking to track to help test Kalex’s new Triumph-powered Moto2 machine, it seems like he’s on the road to recovery.
Rumors of a Europe-based test team for Yamaha have circulated for some time, and would bring the factory in line with all their opponents. Currently a host of top riders are employed by MotoGP’s other factories, with Stefan Bradl at Honda, Mika Kallio at KTM, Michele Pirro at Ducati, Sylvain Guintoli at Suzuka and Scott Redding being offered a spot as Aprilia’s tester for next season.
Folger’s chances of stepping into the role won’t be harmed by Valentino Rossi’s words after Sunday’s German Grand Prix, with the nine-time world champion saying that FOolger’s incredible second place the year before was what helped him take second place at this year’s race.
“For me the race of Folger was very important last year, because first of all mentally I remembered that I wasn’t comfortable with the bike here last year and not feeling strong enough - but Folger didn’t know that it was a difficult track for the Yamaha! He did a fantastic race at the level of Marc.
“I studied everything that he did last year - the whole race, the lines he took, the way he set up the bike, and everything else. it was a good help for me this year, so maybe I have to give him my trophy from this year!”