Ever since Olivier Jacque was forced to withdraw from the Shanghai MotoGP round, after an innocent-looking crash caused a very deep gash in his forearm, requiring surgery to close it up again. The injury is so serious that Olivier Jacque looks unlikely to take part in the Le Mans MotoGP round on May 20th, despite his recovery proceeding better than expected. And so the question of who will replace OJ in France raises its ugly head.
Initial reports linked Neil Hodgson, currently working as a test rider for Bridgestone's MotoGP tires, with the Kawasaki ride. The link was confirmed by Kawasaki's press spokesman, Ian Wheeler. But unfortunately for British rider Hodgson, Kawasaki already have a verbal agreement with Spanish rider Fonsi Nieto, currently racing the Kawasaki ZX-10R in World Superbikes. However, in an interview with AS.com, Nieto seemed phlegmatic about his chances of taking the Le Mans MotoGP ride. "I'll do whatever Kawasaki tells me to," he told the Spanish daily. The Spaniard said that Kawasaki have promised him a MotoGP ride before, but the ride has yet to materialize.
The Kawasaki MotoGP team is expected to make an announcement on Jacque's fitness to race on Friday, at which time a decision about OJ's possible replacement will be made public.