Fresh from the ‘phew, not another test rider thrown in the mix’ files, comes this bit of news out of Yamaha, that WSB contender Michael VD Mark will take crocked Valentino Rossi’s place on the factory Yamaha M1 at Aragon!
With contracts and potential sponsor clashes meaning current Yamaha GP riders such as Johaan Zrco and Jonas Folger would be unlikley to fill the Doctor’s boots, it was either going to a Yamaha test rider or one of the Yamaha WSB boys taking his place.
Given that Alex Lowes has his shot last year already on one of the Tech Trois machines, now it’s young Michael’s turn instead.
“Following Valentino’s crash on Thursday, August 31st, Yamaha decided not to replace him at the San Marino Grand Prix”, said Yamaha bigwig Lin Jarvis, “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. 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.”
MVDM had this to say on 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.”
Good luck chap!