Yamaha Superbike rider Michael Van der Mark has been confirmed as Valentino Rossi’s replacement for the Aragon GP.
Rossi suffered displaced fractures of his right tibia and fibula before the Misano GP that required surgery, forcing him to sit out his home race.
The Italian will not have healed by the Aragon GP, so Dutchman Van der Mark will replace Rossi, making his MotoGP debut in the process.
Van der Mark has some experience in the World Superbike class. He moved up in 2015 as the reigning World Supersport champion. He took multiple podiums on the Honda, before switching to the Yamaha this season. His best finish so far has been a fourth place.
Speaking about the move, Van der Mark admitted his excitement and thanked Yamaha for the opportunity.
“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.”
Lin Jarvis, Yamaha Motor Racing managing director, explained why Van der Mark had been picked for the ride.
“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.”