Subscriber Blog: If You Were Lin Jarvis, Who Would You Choose?

Imagine you are Lin Jarvis, boss of Yamaha. It is Thursday evening, and you are in the car, driving home from Yamaha Motor Racing's headquarters in Monza. Your phone goes, and you answer it. It's someone from Valentino Rossi's entourage, calling to tell you that Rossi has crashed his enduro bike out training, and has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. What do you do?

Well, first you call William Favero, Yamaha's communications manager, and sort out the communications process. But after that, and once you get confirmation that Rossi's leg really is broken – a double break, tibia and fibula – then you start to think about whether you will have to field a substitute rider for the upcoming races. Who do you call?

A lot of people have been playing this game since late on Thursday evening, when news of Rossi's injury broke, but very few have been able to put themselves into the position of Lin Jarvis. Instead, the suggestions offered have been made from the perspective of possible future configurations of the Yamaha MotoGP team, or riders who deserve a chance in MotoGP, or just a particular fan's favorite rider, who they would like to see get a ride somewhere. So who are the candidates? Who will get the call? And more importantly, what motivates the decision that Lin Jarvis will eventually have to make?

Candidates calling

Let's start by listing some of the names being thrown around as a possible replacement. The name fans mention most often is Johann Zarco, for all the obvious reasons. The Frenchman has made a stunning debut in MotoGP in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, and currently sits sixth in the championship.

The two Pata Yamaha WorldSBK riders, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark are also popular suggestions. Sitting in fifth and seventh in the WorldSBK title race, they have both made strong showings so far this year. Lowes has the added advantage of having MotoGP experience on Michelin tires, having filled in for the injured Bradley Smith last year at Silverstone and Misano. They also both know most of the tracks coming up, with Motegi the only track missing from the WorldSBK schedule.

Looking at past precedent, Yamaha test riders look the more likely way to go. Japanese veteran Katsuyuki Nakasuga is a known quantity, and has plenty of experience as both a wildcard and a substitute rider in MotoGP. His compatriot Kohta Nozane is a relatively new addition to the Yamaha stable, but rode the bike at the Sepang test back in January, where he proved to be just as fast as Nakasuga.

Replaced, but for how long?

There are many contingencies to consider when selecting a rider to replace an injured Valentino Rossi. The first question that needs answering is how long Rossi is expected to be absent. Though information on the Italian's injury is somewhat limited, we do know that he has had both tibia and fibula pinned, and has been sent home to recover. That suggests that surgery went well, and that Rossi intends to return sooner rather than later.

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I think that Jonas Folger would be great replacement. First of all Yamaha still need to confirm, whether they move in right direction and collect as much data as possible for 2018 M1, so Folger with very similar riding style and with pretty same comments like Valentino, could be good solution. Also, Folger seems to be a bit less publicly ambitious than Zarco, so maybe there wouldnt be any hard feelings about it, as from Valentino and Vinales or fans, what certainly could be different story with Zarco. WSBK riders are busy, with Portugal and France ahead, test riders a bit slow.  Just my opinion.

Zarco is the surprise of the season and if performance is the criteria, he is the only choice. And then Alex Lowes is the only choice to replace him, given Yamaha loyalties should count for something, as his times and overall performance at Suzuka were the best out there.

There might be other performance-based selections to consider but that's my point really. Make it a performance choice, not one grounded in team/corporate politics. 



I think there is too much money involved to make thinks exciting. It is not only the bike they would like to bring home, but specially the motor since the allocation is limited.

So, first race: no other rider

Second race: Yamaha's testrider Nakasuga or Lowes.

I would love to see Van der Mark on the bike, but i do not think it is realistic. And would it be good for him to end the race fifteenth since there is not enough time to learn and adapt. Motogp is not about riding only unfortunately. People will be dissapointed still

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Unless Rossi decides otherwise, no-one will ride his bike.

Everything hangs around Rossi and his recovery rate. If it's slower than hoped, then Nakasuga will ride at Motegi. 

I agree with the logical conclusion David has came to here.  From a fan perspective, sure it'd be interesting to see Lowes/Zarco on the bike, but I agree on the comments.  It'd be short-term exposure with not necessarily great long term gain to Lowes or Zarco if they didn't (for whatever reason) perform to expectation.

I also think this year, tyres (as Ducati have obviously understood) have been perhaps even more critical than previous years in that understanding the setup for Sunday has been of critical importance.  Some weekends also have a higher number of tyre choices.

Having a consistent test rider who understands the bike can perhaps circulate more across FP1/FP2/FP3/FP4 as the track evolves testing a variety of tyres without worrying much about points and final position.  That data can then be used across Mav and also perhaps Zarco in Tech3.  The data could then very easily give Yamaha a leading edge on Sunday.  Give Mav the best possible race bike with Zarco in a very strong position in Tech3, a team and surrounding he's already comfortable with.  In that guise, you'd have to think as a company/factory, that's their best bet at taking the title now.

People seem to forget that tech3 are also a competitor team in the championship, and doing quite well this season.

Expecting Herve to just give up one of his riders (and thus valuable championship points) just because Vale hurt himself is a bit rich.

I suspect it will be the Yamaha test rider, whoever that is these days.

First and foremost I would search for a sorcerer/witch/shaman and ask for some unjinxing spell! ;)
Jokes aside, you are absolutely right David on your analysis. I only slightly differ on one point: I don't think they are worried about unsettling Vinales. I think they've already proven they are not scared of handling two very strong competitors in the garage.
And anyway I don't see any other option than bringing in Nakasuga and have him race/test in race conditions....
On a side note I read everywhere that Zarco is the natural "heir to the throne " and particularly in France they talk about it as an almost certain thing. I totally disagree!
I don't see this happening ever. I already said it in an older post, there are too many factors not in his favour such as age, nationality, lack of charisma.... as for riding skills and the potential of being a motgp champion.... hum! Given the quality of the field right now and the talented younger guns arriving in the next two years I think he's just above mid pack. If i were Lin Jarvis i would take a closer look at the younglings and start nurture them.

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I always picked the wrong one lol :)

Me neither, and I'll spend some of my imminent lottery jackpot winnings on hiring a jet to go and watch.

For the same reason Crutchlow was never a candidate to replace Pedrosa on a temporary basis.  Why would Tech3 or LCR give up the one thing that keeps their sponsors happy - they want to meet and greet Zarco/Crutchlow in the VIP hospitality tent, not whomever a satellite team could dredge up.  But Pata Yamaha loses nothing in this way if Lowes or vdM ride for Movistar Yamaha (except for the one conflicting date, but Rossi is likely back by then).

Nakasuga would be the best and easiest option for Misano. He should get the first call as to not upset the rhythm at Yamaha.  Aragon, they should move Zarco to the "Factory Bike" and move either Lowes- Van Der Mark and/ or and this would be a long shot....Have Keith McCarty, Yamaha Motorsports Racing Division Manager for America get on the horn to offer up Cameron Beubier's services(ugh... just found out he dislocated his shoulder in Pittsburgh, so nevermind....)  to the satellite squad.  I only sat that as he has already proved himself in WSB with a top ten, and could get to a top 15 in Motogp... Plus it doesn't hurt that the American squad is heavily sponsored by the sports drink, so there is no conflict there...   He has two Superbike championships to his name, that has to count for something...

Spot On as usual David.

Here we might ponder something - why doesn't Yamaha do what Honda does with factory contracts for a choice satellite rider? Zarco, or Folger?

Zarco has everything they could want and is ripe now. Actualized potential. It isn't always best to have a youngster. And he has plenty of charisma and charm contrary to a comment above, he is relaxed and not egoic about it which is even better. Lock the Frenchman in already. And then repeat the factory contract with a brilliant youngster/astronaut on a Tech 3.

But more pertinent right now - no reason to put him in blue as a substitute as David said. Nakasuga at the Japan round is just right. Plus, "getting a go on the factory bike" doesn't sound so appealing for a change at Yamaha this year! Herve's bikes are just fine thanks.

Of what charm and charisma mean.
I'm not trying to argue with you for the sake of it but spending most of my time on french soil and Zarco being at the moment the only French in Motogp plus a winner in moto2 i can almost tell you what he had for breakfast this morning....
So no, in all these years he's been around the word charismatic has never ever crossed my mind not even once! As for the charm... i would say he has a dorkiness (i say it in nice way not disrispectful at all!) about him that is endearing. So maybe what you call charming i call endearing.... like with an awkward kid.
You say he's ripe i say he has reached his full potential which is between P 7 and 10 on the WC ranking. Look at it in another way: can we safely assume that this season with his M1 and the many years spent in the lower classes he should be doing at least as well as Vinales did last year if not better? But he is not.
True: i might be missing something. And time will prove me absolutely wrong. All the better for the show.

I must be secretly anti-french biased ;)
To be honest I dismissed Baz from the bigger picture, I think he should have stayed in WSB.

Thanks for suggesting Casey, Machine. But I think CS27 would be more at home with Ducati in Misano. Jorge Lorenzo could pay for the ride on the Yamaha with all that lovely lire he got from Ducati. JLo99 can ride the Yamaha, no problem there.

Nakasuga for Motegi sure. why not, Vale may be happy to avoid going to motegi. Then he won't run into Wayne Gardner on the road in to the circuit.

What about Alex de Angelis? he is a local boy from San Marino. Alex probably knows his way around misano, Alex Dangerous has plenty of Gp experience. No one would think Alex was taking Vale's ride long term. Yamaha could give Alex any old shibby to ride & not risk damage to a current engine or bike.

I have thought for a long time that Lyn Jarvis has the best job in grand prix racing. This issue will have him working hard to earn his money. Today I am happy that I don't have Lyn Jarvis's job.

Unaware of other, conflicting Championship dates, he's a shoe-in for The Constuctor's.

From a logistical point 0f view? Save on air-fare and get free write-ups with Oxley.

PR Scoop Value? Ago/Phil Read.

Irish point of view? "Where the feck is Jeremy McWilliams when you need him?"

Likely to be Kats Nakasuga - one of the great riders of our generation sadly lost to GPs at this stage in his career.

I like the Kohta Nozane shout though - still very young and clearly talented, YART don't hire slow riders and to have three seasons of All-Japan, one All-Japan GP2 title and a full season's enduro racing with a top team under his belt is great experience already. Picking up a few points would be a decent result coming straight in.

Everyone else has their own championships or team situations to not disturb - Zarco is likely to be in the running to take a few points off Maverick's rivals anyway.