It will be Yamaha SBK rider Michael van der Mark who will climb on Valentino Rossi's M1 at Aragon. The Doctor is making progress as he continues with his rehabilitation programme, but it looks as if he will be unable to race before the Japanese GP taking place at Motegi on 15 October.
Van der Mark will therefore make his MotoGP debut at the Spanish round, having never ridden a prototype before; he will however be able to count on the great experience of Valentino's team.
“Following Valentino‘s crash, 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 - explains managing director Lin Jarvis - 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."
The Dutch rider enthusiastically welcomes the opportunity.
"I'm excited to be given the opportunity to ride the YZR-M1 at the Aragón MotoGP round - he commented - 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."