Suzuki has announced that Kazuki Watanabe will replace the injured Joan Mir for next weekend’s Misano MotoGP.
With test rider Sylvain Guintoli also injured, but the MotoGP rules requiring the team to make ‘every reasonable effort’ to provide a substitute rider, Suzuki had approached Danilo Petrucci.
However, the Italian reluctantly turned the offer down in order to focus on his MotoAmerica title challenge with Ducati.
A World Superbike rider was then rumoured, team manager Livio Suppo telling Crash.net that he didn’t believe the ‘105% rule’ would be a problem for any SBK rider even without any prior MotoGP experience.
However, the decision has ultimately gone in favour of Kazuki Watanabe, 31, who races for Suzuki in the Japanese Superbike and World Endurance series.
“First thing’s first, I would like to wish Joan a speedy recovery from the injury he suffered, he’s a great rider to watch and I hope he’ll be back on track soon,” Watanabe said.
I was really pleased to receive the call about substituting in Misano, it will be amazing to try the MotoGP bike around that track. I will do my best to perform well and give something back to the team who have given me this chance.”
Suppo added: “We are very sorry that Joan won’t be able to race in Misano and we wish him a fast recovery!
“Meanwhile we’re pleased to welcome Kazuki Watanabe to our team, he has a lot of experience with Suzuki and he is putting together a strong season in the All Japan series, he also got 3rd at Suzuka 8 hours just a few weeks ago.
“The GSX-RR will be a very different challenge, but we will do our best for Watanabe-san in order for him to get the maximum out of this experience!”