MotoGP: Yamaha Motor Racing is pleased to announce that Wataru Yoshikawa, will join the Fiat Yamaha Team filling in for Valentino Rossi

MotoGP: Filling in for Valentino Rossi

Yamaha Motor Racing is pleased to announce that Wataru Yoshikawa, their experienced Japanese test rider, will join the Fiat Yamaha Team from the Barcelona round of the MotoGP World Championship.

The two-time Japanese Superbike Champion will ride in the place of the injured Valentino Rossi, with Rossi’s team and the YZR-M1, until the Italian is back to full fitness following his broken leg.

Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards had been viewed as one of the favourites to step up and replace Rossi, but with that leaving Tech 3 then on the hunt for a new rider, Yamaha has instead turned to the relatively unknown two-time Japanese Superbike Champion to take over the best bike/team combo in MotoGP.

It is expected that Yoshikawa will be with the Fiat Yamaha Team for at least three races, after which more should be known about Rossi’s expected return date.

Rossi’s Spanish team mate Jorge Lorenzo is leading the championship after five races and will again be the solo Fiat Yamaha rider at the Dutch GP at Assen on Saturday.

Yamaha managing director Lin Jarvis said the team had considered all options before opting for the veteran tester.

“We had always planned to use a rider from within the Yamaha Motor and Tech 3 family,” he said.

“But for each rider we considered who is in active competition, their move to the Fiat Yamaha Team would have created another problem for their own racing program or for the teams in which they are engaged.”

Jarvis said Yoshikawa had the experience and would also allow the team to fulfil their contractual obligations to series promoters.

“I’m happy to have this chance to stand-in for Valentino while he is recovering and to compete in MotoGP again for the first time since 2002, when I raced at Motegi,” said Yoshikawa, who won Japanese superbike titles in 1994 and 1999.

Yoshikawa has raced once before in MotoGP, competing as a wild card in 2002.

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