LONDON (Reuters) – Dutch superbike rider Michael van der Mark will replace injured Italian great Valentino Rossi for the Aragon round of the MotoGP world championship in Spain on Sept. 24, Yamaha said on Monday.
Rossi broke his leg in a training accident on an off-road bike at the end of August and missed the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano in eastern Italy at the weekend.
Yamaha did not replace the 38-year-old nine times world champion for that race.
“Rossi is making good progress with his rehabilitation process. However, it is expected that he will not be able to compete again before the Grand Prix of Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi, held from October 13-15,” Yamaha said in a statement.
Van der Mark, 24, will have Rossi’s usual pit crew working with him at the 14th round of the season at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
The Dutch rider will be making his debut in the premier class and has never ridden a MotoGP bike before. He previously competed in seven 125cc (now Moto3) races in 2010 and the 2011 Dutch Moto2 round.
He is also a three times winner of the Suzuka eight hours endurance race and has raced at the Spanish circuit seven times previously with World Superbikes and other support series.
Yamaha’s managing director Lin Jarvis said the team was obliged to enter two bikes for the race and had decided to seek a replacement within the company’s own pool of contracted riders.
“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,” he added.
Honda’s Spanish rider Marc Marquez, the reigning champion, and Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso, for Ducati, are tied at the top of the championship after Sunday’s race at Misano with five rounds remaining.
Rossi is fourth overall and 42 points adrift.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Jon Boyle)