No name test rider replaces Rossi

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Wataru-Yoshikawa.JPGYamaha factory test rider Wataru Yoshikawa will be riding in Valentino Rossi’s place starting at Catalunya on July 4. Rossi, who fractured his tibia and fibula in a gruesome highside at Mugello, is currently scheduled to return at Brno on August 15, but we’re skeptical that he’ll be racing at all for the remainder of the season. So why a 41-year old test rider and not an up and coming star like Ben Spies?
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Two reasons: politics and practicality. Yoshikawa, who had a successful
career racing in Japanese and World Superbike and raced an M1 a couple of times in 2002, is intimately familiar
with the M1 as he’s helped develop  it. Campaigning it for the next few
races or the rest of the season will allow Rossi’s team to continue
development. In addition to being an actual race, each MotoGP round is a
valuable opportunity to collect data and try new things in a
competitive environment. Yoshikawa will essentially be continuing that
process, giving the superstar a better bike to ride whenever he does
make his return.

Wataru.jpgWataru Yoshikawa

Some speculation has suggested that Tech3 Yamaha-rider Colin Edwards or
Texas teammate Ben Spies might take over Rossi’s coveted factory ride.
Allowing either to move up would likely piss off Tech3 by requiring them
to find a replacement and removing the star power of either rider,
effecting sponsorship deals. Additionally, if a rider like Spies
experienced much success riding Rossi’s M1, it could cause huge
political ramifications within Yamaha, especially if Vale tries to
return before he’s completely fit. With Yoshikawa riding, Rossi is free
to hop back on whenever he wants without stepping on anyone’s toes. Now,
the World Champion just has to worry about Lorenzo.

via MCN

  • Jordan

    I thought Spies couldn’t race on a factory machine this year any way? What with MotoGP’s rookie rule and all.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      That’s such a weird, complicated rule that someone else is probably better explaining it than I am. Hypothetically it’d probably have some impact on Yamaha’s decision, but it sounded like this was the only option all along.

  • Sean Smith

    That’s one lucky test rider…

  • Tyler

    From what I understand, the rookie rule was a major factor in why Spies didn’t get the ride….

  • Odie

    Honestly, at first, I thought this decision was a little weird. But now it makes more sense. Regardless if the rules preclude Spies from riding the factory M1, I think having Yoshikawa fill in for The Dr accomplishes a couple of thing that Ben couldn’t. 1) Yoshikawa doesn’t have any pressure to win races to keep his job. He obviously will want to not look like he pulling a boat anchor, but his job is mainly to collect data and improve the bike. Ben is really wanting to get to know HIS bike and improve it and how well he can ride it and all that is just a means to an end: Win the championship at some point. 2)They get is a Japanese ride in MotoGP. I would imagine Yamaha is giving Yoshikawa a bonus for all his hard work over the years by letting him ride in MotoGP.

  • http://muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Those are some big italian shoes to fill, Yoshikawa. Godspeed.

    When did this rookie rule take effect?

    • pdub

      I think it came in 2008 or 2009, someone else here can probably pin down the date. Lorenzo was the last rider in before the rule change and no doubt he benefited handsomely by not having to ride satellite for a year before being #2 in the #1 factory team. FIM rules are usually quite confounding and usually reversed or modified as soon as it’s seen how the work in practice. This one isn’t so bad. It allows the satellite teams to get the hot up and coming talent for a season or two upping their profile & rookies usually have so much to adjust to with jumping to the premier class that that % extra a factory bike gives or a direct pipe to development might be squandered.

  • Isaac

    Let Ben ride FTW!

  • The Shrike

    I’m believe the rookie rules started this season.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yep, it started this season and basically says riders who haven’t raced MotoGP before can’t ride for a factory team in their first season. The question I’m not qualified to answer is how it would effect a rider who’d already raced half a season filling in for an injury on a factory team. Normally I’d call Dorna or someone and ask, but the point is null and void now that they’ve hired this dude.

  • Jordan

    Well said Wes.