MICHAEL VAN DER MARK TO REPLACE VALENTINO ROSSI – OFFICIAL
Yamaha has officially confirmed that – as first rumoured last week, then increasing clear during the Misano weekend – Michael van der Mark will make a MotoGP debut in place of Valentino Rossi at Aragon.
Rossi suffered displaced fractures of his right tibia and fibula during an enduro training accident on August 31, ruling him out of his home Misano round.
Yamaha are contractually obliged to replace Rossi at Aragon, which is just 22 days after his accident, well short of the 40-day recovery forecast by doctors.
“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.
“We will give him our very best support and wish him every success for this exciting opportunity. We also hope that Valentino will continue to make a rapid recovery and that we will see him again, back on his YZR-M1, on the earliest possible occasion.”
“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to ride the YZR-M1 at the Aragón MotoGP round,” said van der Mark, who will ride alongside title contender Maverick Vinales. “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.”
van der Mark stepped up to WorldSBK, with Ten Kate Honda, as the reigning World Supersport champion in 2015.
After nine podiums and fourth in last year’s championship, the 24-year-old Dutchman switched to the official Yamaha WorldSBK team. He has claimed a best finish of fourth this season, but looked on course for the current R1’s first victory before a tyre failure at Misano.
van der Mark also made ten grand prix appearances in the 125c and Moto2 classes between 2008 and 2011, with a best result of 18th in his home Assen race in 2009. van der Mark is now set to be the first Dutch rider since Jurgen van den Goorbergh in 2005 to race in MotoGP.
van der Mark is currently seventh in the WorldSBK standings, two places behind team-mate Alex Lowes.
Rossi should be fit for the following Japanese MotoGP, which starts 42 days after his accident.