Michael van der Mark To Replace Valentino Rossi At Aragon

Michael van der Mark is to replace Valentino Rossi at Aragon. The Dutch WorldSBK rider has been selected to stand in for the nine-time world champion, while Rossi recovers from the leg he fractured in a training accident just over a week ago. 

Van der Mark faces a challenging weekend. He will have no time on the bike beforehand to acclimatize himself to either the Yamaha M1 or the Michelin MotoGP tires. There is not enough time or testing opportunities to put the Dutchman on the bike ahead of this weekend. He will not have to learn the track, as WorldSBK also races at the circuit, but expectations will not be set too high.

The naming of Van der Mark as Rossi's replacement is something of a surprise. Katsuyuki Nakasuga has subbed for injured riders previously, and has a lot of experience on a MotoGP bike. Nakasuga is scheduled to appear as a wildcard rider at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, though, and this may have conditioned Yamaha's choice. 

Van der Mark's teammate Alex Lowes also has MotoGP experience, having already replaced Bradley Smith in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team last year at two races, and participated in the Brno test before Silverstone and Misano. However, it is believed that Yamaha Europe, who pay the bills for much of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK program, were not keen to put Lowes on the bike, preferring him to concentrate on the WorldSBK championship, where he is fifth, with an outside chance at taking fourth from Marco Melandri.

Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing Van der Mark as Rossi's replacement, and the WorldSBK website has an interview with Van der Mark where he talks about the opportunity he has been given.

Michael van der Mark to Replace Rossi in Aragon

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.

Lin Jarvis
Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing

"Following Valentino's crash on Thursday, August 31st, Yamaha decided not to replace him at the San Marino Grand Prix, but for the next Grand Prix in Aragón the team is obliged to enter two riders. It being virtually impossible for Valentino to be fit to race in Aragón, Yamaha decided to search for a capable replacement from within its own pool of contracted riders. Having previously used Katsuyuki Nakasuga to fill in for Jorge Lorenzo in 2011 and Alex Lowes to replace Bradley Smith in 2016, we decided that Michael van der Mark should have the opportunity this time around. It is never easy to step in to replace another rider and even more difficult to replace Valentino Rossi, but we believe that Michael has all the credentials and experience to do a good job. We will give him our very best support and wish him every success for this exciting opportunity. We also hope that Valentino will continue to make a rapid recovery and that we will see him again, back on his YZR-M1, on the earliest possible occasion."

Michael van der Mark
Yamaha Factory Racing Rider

"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."


Michael van der Mark Personal Profile:
Date of birth: 26-10-1992
Place of birth: Gouda, The Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 69 kg
Marital state: In a relationship
Career Highlights:
2017: Currently 7th in the Superbike World Championship / Winner Suzuka 8-hours
2016: 4th Superbike World Championship
2015: 7th Superbike World Championship
2014: 1st Supersport World Championship / Winner Suzuka 8-hours
2013: 4th Supersport World Championship / Winner Suzuka 8-hours
2012: 1st European Superstock 600 Championship
2011: 3rd European Superstock 600 Championship / Wildcard - Moto2 GP, Assen
2010: Seven 125cc Grands Prix / European Superstock 600 Championship
2009: 1st ONK Dutch 125cc Championship / 18th Dutch 125cc GP
2008: 1st ONK Dutch 125cc Championship / Selected CEV Spanish Championship
2007: 2nd ONK Dutch 125cc Championship
2006: 2nd Dutch Junior Cup
2005: 4th Dutch Junior Cup


Back to top


This is going to be interesting! Has it ever happened before that anybody did a replacement ride in MotoGP without ever riding a MotoGP bike before? And then such a prominent seat too, it's quite an honor!

Well, at least he's the same size as Rossi, so the bike should fit straight away in ergonomics and maybe even general set-up. And it may very well give him ideas about how his superbike should feel, ideally. Really looking forward to his comments after FP1, and beyond. Realistically, just being in touch with the MotoGP regulars would already be a huge achievement, given the high level in the entire MotoGP grid. Lose three seconds and you're dead last. Like always, much will depend on his ability to adapt to the very different tyres and carbon brakes. For sure he's the most interesting choice out of the four candidates!

^ Totally agree Pvalve. SUPER interesting given the options, and a surprise.

After he got the Honda Superbike far forward of where expected and consistently, in a wisely aggressive form, I had him as one of the few Superbikers that we should see on a MotoGP bike. It was a while ago that Jonathon Rea ran so very well on the Honda GP, that was fun. I imagine the longer he has been on the Superbike the tougher the adaptation, but not necessarily.

A truly great gifted rider can feel out anything and get quick. But this is a fairly hurculean task for him. Wishing him all the best.

By the way, another vaguely related point. Do you know what Ant West was up to last weekend? Racing here in the US on his Yamaha R6. IN 1000cc SUPERSTOCK. Managing to finish mid pack. And beating 2 solid riders on Superbike BMW's. What a wildly adventuresome guy!

I enjoy surprises.

Ant West was riding for Aussie Dave's team and they run Kawasaki ZX-10's.  Did they have a problem with them and run an R6 instead?


I saw on FB today that West is riding Krummenacher's ZX10 for the rest of the season - as Randy has an injury.

What an exciting choice! Yamaha is really up to makes thing really interesting for us. Putting a non- regular rider on the bike gives us great insights and something to watch for. Also a good sign for caring about their riders, since everyone under contract nu has had the oppportunity to feel the real thing. I do not expect to much though as it comes to results, since all regular riders are at a great level and used to the tyres, brakes and elektronics


So has Yamaha closed the door completely on Rossi's aspirations to race in Aragon?  I notice that Jarvis says it's "virtually impossible for Valentino to be fit to race in Aragón".  I find it curious that he's unwilling to talk in absolute terms.

After Yamaha's bland decisions last time Rossi broke a leg, in 2010, this is a refreshing change

Being from Rotterdam myself (I can spot Michael's appartment right here from the window at the office) I'm biased of course, but I think it's a great choice. Great opportunity for Michael. It could make or break him. The risk that he doesn't succeed to beat any regular rider, or even that he will crash and damage the bike is immense. But I'm sure that he, being as young as he is, doesn't even think about that. He is just eager to get on that bike. And rightly so. He is a handsome young man, very polite, very professional, very fast and steady at the same time. I think that has a lot to do with Yamaha's decision.  

As Dutch fans, we used to have our fair share of great riders in GP racing, albeit mostly underdogs. For the last decade(s) we have been deprived of succes though. It's awesome to see that better times seem to be coming, with Bo Bendsneyder and Michael van der Mark. And we also have Livio Loi, who is Belgian, but speaks the same language and is a great little guy in any way.

Most of you people from Britain or the US (let alone the Spanish and Italian fans) are spoiled with plenty riders and have no idea how it is to be from a small country ;)

That's why I really liked to see the two Swiss guys at the front in Moto2 at Misano. And a guy from Malaysia at the podium. Imagine what a pioneer he must be, coming from a country with absolutely no racing tradition!




I think you might be stuck in the past if you think there are lots of American's in GP racing.  There's only Joe Roberts in moto2 - and he was drafted in half way through the season.

do not forget Jeffry Herlings when you mention dutch GP riders. It is motorcross ofcourse, another discipline,  but not exactly a underdog in his discipline. It is a pity that F1 swallows a lot of media attention of local riders in MotoGP, and motogp of WC superbike/Moto2/moto3  and roadracing of motocross... and motorcross of Speedway etc etc . The world is not that fair!

Then again, for such a small country with not a lot sales of bike a year, mostly local sponsornames and less intrest to globalize and so less possiblities for training, I think the Netherlands are doing surprisingly well at WC level

In my fantasy world I am drooling over the sight of Casey Stoner throwing his leg over the Yamaha as P1 starts. 

Brilliant rider - top bike - let's see just how good Marc is! 

Don't begrudge me my dreams guys.