MotoGP Assen: Garrett Gerloff to replace injured Franco Morbidelli
World Superbike rider Garrett Gerloff will make his MotoGP debut at Assen this weekend after being brought in by Petronas Yamaha to replace the injured Franco Mobidelli.
Morbidelli has aggravated an existing knee injury which the Italian first revealed after he fell during a practice bike swap at the Catalan Grand Prix. Morbidelli's knee gave way and he revealed that he'd hurt himself whilst training at Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Ranch. He's now aggravated that injury in another training incident and will not compete in the Dutch TT.
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As a result, American rider Gerloff will get the chance to showcase his abilities to Yamaha MotoGP bosses as there's no WSB action this weekend. Gerloff previously rode for the factory Yamaha team on the opening day of the at Valencia last season, standing in for Rossi who eventually passed a Covid test the following morning.
“I’m excited for the opportunity ahead, I’m not someone who runs away from a challenge, so I’m ready to get to the track," Gerloff said. "It’ll be a new circuit for me, I like trying new tracks, it looks fun, fast and flowing, and really suits my riding style. I’m looking forward to jumping on the Yamaha M1 again and twisting the throttle.
"We’ll see how things go, but I feel good and would like to thank Yamaha and the team for considering me. It won't be easy, but I'm going to give it my best shot!”
Gerloff is sixth overall in the WSB standings after the opening three rounds, recording a best result of third in the Superpole Race at Aragon. The 25-year-old also clinched three podiums in his debut WSB campaign last year, whilst he's also a two-time MotoAmerica Supersport champion (2016-2017) and finished third overall in the 2019 MotoAmerica Superbike season.
A positive weekend could throw Gerloff’s name into the mix for a potential position at the Petronas Yamaha team next season, should Rossi decide to retire. Fellow WSB rider Toprak Razgatlıoğlu has also been linked to the Yamaha satellite team, whilst Moto2 rider Jake Dixon is also believed to be an option.
It's the first time since 2016 that an American rider will start a MotoGP race. The late Nicky Hayden was the last to do so, standing in for the injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda for the Australian GP.
Ironically, the last American victory came at Assen 10 years ago. 2009 WSB champion Ben Spies secured his one and only MotoGP victory for the factory Yamaha team. Despite being in WSB, the GRT Yamaha rider has never been to Assen because last year's event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.