Yamaha names replacement rider for Rossi

Test rider Wataru Yoshikawa to race at least three rounds

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 23, 2010
Yamaha has named test rider Wataru Yoshikawa as replacement rider for the injured Valentino Rossi.

A two-time Japanese Superbike champion, Yoshikawa will ride the Fiat Yamaha YZR-M1 while Rossi recovers from a broken leg. Yamaha expects Yoshikawa to race in three rounds, Catalunya in Spain, Sachsenring in Germany and the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. After that, Yamaha will evaluate Rossi’s progress before deciding if Yoshikawa will race more rounds.

“The benefit of Wataru's presence in our team will be threefold,” says Lin Jarvis, managing director for Yamaha Motor Racing. “Firstly he brings with him a wealth of experience riding the YZR-M1. Secondly his presence allows us to fulfill our contractual obligations and to join the team's quest to accumulate points for the Team Championship. Thirdly he will gain valuable first hand MotoGP race experience in three challenging circuits which will surely be very useful to assist him and Yamaha with the future development of the YMR-M1.”

At 41 years of age, Wataru Yoshikawa will be the oldest rider on the MotoGP grid.A long-time Yamaha racer, Yoshikawa won the Japanese Superbike Championship in 1994 and 1999, and raced in the 1996 World Superbike season. Yoshikawa has one MotoGP wildcard race on his resume, a wildcard entry in 2002, and as a test rider for Yamaha, is very familiar with the M1.

The announcement may be a disappointment for some racing fans who expected Yamaha to name a bigger name such as Tech 3 Yamaha riders Colin Edwards or Ben Spies or Yamaha Sterilgarda World Superbike racers James Toseland or Cal Crutchlow.

“We have considered many different scenarios and candidate riders to fill the temporary vacant seat in the Fiat Yamaha Team,” says Jarvis. “We had always planned to use a rider from within the Yamaha Motor & Tech 3 family 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.”

Various reports say Yamaha wanted Spies to take the seat, but MotoGP organizers refused to grant Spies an exemption to the rookie rule that bars first year racers from competing for factory teams. The rule exists to prevent factory teams from scooping up young, up-and-coming racers. Though he is also technically a rookie, the 41-year-old Yoshikawa was granted an exemption as barring him as a rookie does not fall under the spirit of the rule.

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