Yamaha’s WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark will be riding Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1 in round 14 of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship, staged at the MotorLand Aragón track in Spain, while the Italian is recovering from his leg injury.
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 13th – 15th.
For the Aragón race, Van der Mark will be backed by Rossi’s usual crew. This opportunity will provide the 24-year-old with a similar MotoGP experience to the one fellow Yamaha WorldSBK rider and 2017 Suzuka 8-hours Endurance Race winner Alex Lowes was given last year. The Brit replaced Bradley Smith in the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team at the British, San Marino, and Aragón Grand Prix.
Unlike Lowes, who had the benefit of some testing mileage in Brno, Czech Republic, prior to taking part in the MotoGP weekends, Van der Mark will debut in the premier class on the YZR-M1 without any training. Nevertheless, the three-time Suzuka8H winner is well accustomed to the demands of working for a factory team. The Dutchman is also no stranger to the MotoGP paddock, having competed in seven 125cc Grands Prix in 2010, and in the 2011 Moto2 race in Assen, the Netherlands. Moreover, his experience in the FIM Superbike (WorldSBK) and Supersport World Championships, and the European Superstock 600 make him well acquainted with the MotorLand Aragón circuit, having raced there seven times before.
“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.” – Van der Mark