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Valentino Rossi To Travel To Aragon And Attempt To Ride

Valentino Rossi is to travel to Aragon and attempt to race in the fourteenth round of MotoGP at the Motorland Aragon circuit. After evaluating his fitness on a Yamaha R1M at Misano on Monday and Tuesday, the Italian had his leg assessed by Dr Pascarella, who performed the surgery on his broken tibia and fibula. After that examination, Rossi decided he was fit enough to travel to Aragon and attempt to race.

Rossi faces one more hurdle before he is allowed to race. He will be subject to a further assessment by the circuit doctors at the Motorland Aragon track, who will have to evaluate whether he is fit enough to race. Rossi will have to demonstrate that his leg is capable of bearing the strains of riding a MotoGP bike, which will mean standing on the broken leg, and being able to jump and land on.

Michael van der Mark will also travel to Motorland Aragon, as originally planned, but the Dutchman will initially be on standby in case Rossi can't ride. Yamaha have until two hours before qualifying to replace Rossi, so in theory, Rossi could ride in FP3 and assess his fitness immediately after that session. In practice, he is more likely to know whether he can actually race either directly after FP1, or on Saturday morning, after his leg has had a night to recover from the rigors of practice. 

If Rossi does ride the bike in FP1, then pulls out, that will take some of the pressure off Van der Mark to score a result. With very limited time on the bike, expections on the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider will be very low indeed.

There is also a chance that Yamaha decides not to put Van der Mark on the bike at all if Rossi rides the first day. The precedent for this would be Loris Capirossi at Assen in 2008. The Italian suffered a nasty puncture wound in his right arm after crashing in FP2 at Assen, and Ben Spies, who had traveled to Assen to replace Capirossi should he decide not to start the race after returning from a broken hand picked up at an earlier round in Barcelona. As Capirossi had started the round, Suzuki were free not to replace him. That will also be the case if Rossi rides FP1, and decides he can't continue.

Below is the press release from the Movistar Yamaha Team:

Movistar Yamaha to Attend the Aragon GP in Full Force


The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team arrives in Spain for a very special 14th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. Not only is the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón the last European round before the overseas races and Maverick Viñales' home Grand Prix, but it's also a home race for the team's title sponsor, Movistar, and the scene for either Valentino Rossi's return from injury, or Yamaha WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark's MotoGP debut as a replacement rider.

At the previous race in Misano, Viñales flew the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP flag alone. His fourth place at a very wet San Marino race was labelled as good progress by the Spaniard, as it was his first time trying the 2018 chassis in these conditions.

He currently holds third place in the championship standings, 16 points behind the joint leaders and - as the 2017 season has four more rounds after this weekend and there are still 125 points up for grabs - the number 25-rider has all to play for. This weekend he will focus on getting his Yamaha set up for the elevation changes and multiple flowing corners at the Alcañiz track as soon as possible on the Friday, so he can make another step forward in his championship challenge in Sunday's race.

The young gun has stood on the podium in Aragón three times before, thanks to a third place in 2011 in the 125cc class, a Moto3 second place finish in 2013 and a Moto2 victory in 2014. Last year he just missed out on the premier class podium, securing a best MotoGP placement in Alcañiz of fourth position. This year he fancies his chances to secure a place in the top-3.

After 17 days of recovering, Rossi got his first laps in at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last Monday and Tuesday, before undergoing a medical examination today. Following the check-up, the Italian decided to make his way to Aragón in order to try to participate in this weekend's race. He will have to successfully complete a mandatory physical check by the MotorLand Aragón Chief Medical Officer to be declared fit to take part in the Grand Prix weekend.

Despite missing the previous race due to injury, Rossi arrives at the 14th round holding fourth place in the championship, 42 points from the top of the standings. While his leg hasn't fully healed yet, the nine-time World Champion is happy he might have the opportunity to attempt riding his YZR-M1 again and greet the Spanish fans in Alcañiz, where he stood on the podium three times before (three third places in 2013, 2015 and 2016).

Yamaha WorldSBK rider Van der Mark will still attend the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón as a replacement rider, in case Rossi is declared unfit or if he feels he can't compete in Sunday's race after any of the Free Practice sessions. Should he be stepping aboard the YZR-M1 this weekend, he will do so without any prior testing. Nevertheless, he is looking forward to the challenge and to taking in as much information as possible, should Rossi not be able to ride.

The MotorLand Aragón is situated near the town of Alcañiz in Northern Spain and is only a few hours' drive from Barcelona. The circuit was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2010 and was given the IRTA Best Grand Prix of the Year award that same year, reflecting the riders' and the fans' appreciation of the venue. The fast and challenging 5.1km long track has ten left and seven right corners and a 968m longest straight. It draws thousands of fans, especially as it's the last European race before the triple header overseas, making it a round motorsport enthusiasts don't want to miss.

Maverick Viñales
Championship: 3rd - Points: 183

"I'm very happy to head to Aragón because for us it's like a second home Grand Prix and we know that we can do a good performance there with the M1. It's one of my favourite tracks because of its lay-out, in Aragón we can be very fast. We are 16 points behind and we need to close that gap as soon as possible. For that reason, it's very important to push and believe that we can do it. In Misano we made a big step and I'm sure that we will do another important step this weekend. It's very important to stay focused."

Valentino Rossi
Championship: 4th - Points: 157

"Fortunately, yesterday I had a good test with my YZF-R1M in Misano. I tried also the day before, but the rain stopped me after a few laps. Yesterday I managed to complete 20 laps and find the answers I was looking for. Eventually, the test was positive and I want to say thanks to Dr. Lucidi and his staff, who helped me find the best solutions to feel the least amount of pain possible in my leg when I'm riding. Obviously at the end of the test I was in a little bit of pain, but this morning I went to Dr. Pascarella for a medical check, and it came out with a positive result. At the end I decided I will leave for Aragón and will try to ride my M1 this weekend. If I will be declared fit to ride, I'll have the real answer after FP1, because riding the M1 will be a much bigger challenge. We'll see. See you in Aragon!"

Michael van der Mark

"Though it remains uncertain if I will get to ride the YZR-M1 this weekend, I'm still looking forward to it. While I would like to get to step aboard the YZR-M1, I'm also fully supporting Valentino making his return. I'll either get to make my MotoGP debut or, should I not be able to ride, I will get to see Valentino live in action as he makes his comeback. As I said earlier, I've not been able to ride a MotoGP bike before the Grand Prix kicks off so, if Valentino ends up withdrawing from the Aragón GP, I will have to jump in at the deep end at the start of the next session and just try my best. However, after securing my first WorldSBK podium of the 2017 season in Portimão, I'm having a good momentum to step up to the challenge. I want to thank Yamaha again for giving me this opportunity. I'm sure it will be a good experience either way."

Massimo Merigali

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - Team Director

"First of all, the team is looking forward to welcoming back Valentino and his crew in the pit box! The Aragón GP is very special for the team as we share the title sponsor with this round of the MotoGP championship, and we are very happy that we might get to start the event with a 'complete' team and rider line-up. It remains to be seen if Valentino feels he can complete the entire race weekend, which is very demanding, especially at a circuit like MotorLand Aragón, with big elevation changes. Should Vale feel that his injury is causing him too much discomfort, then Michael van der Mark will step in as the replacement rider. If that is the case, the team will put in maximal effort to help him adapt to the YZR-M1 as quick as possible. He didn't get the opportunity to test the bike before, so it would be a very exciting but also interesting weekend for him. As for the other side of the box, we are fully engrossed with the fight for the championship. Maverick is 16 points behind the joint leaders, with five races to go, so we are as determined as ever to get a top result and decrease the margin to the top in the standings. He really likes this circuit and, as it's also his home race, he will be pushing hard this weekend to confirm his status as a key protagonist."


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UPDATE: Valentino Rossi Tested Fitness At Misano On Monday

Valentino Rossi's test to see if he is fit enough to compete at Aragon was brought forward a day. The poor weather expected for Tuesday and Wednesday forced Rossi to take to the track at Misano on Monday afternoon, according to reports from well-informed local paper Rimini Today.

The Italian paper reports that Rossi did four laps of Misano, before being forced to pull in due to the rain. Conditions were far from ideal, however, the track still having some damp patches from the poor weather the area has suffered. The report states that he rode a Yamaha R6 at the track, yet the (admittedly blurry) photos on the Rimini Today website seem to suggest this was an R1M, which Rossi often uses to train at the circuit. 

The photos (if genuine, though there is little reason to believe they are not) also show Rossi sitting very naturally on the bike, with a bent right knee and foot. That suggests his recovery is proceeding apace, though four laps on a road bike is nothing near the same as 27 laps at full speed on a MotoGP machine.

There has been no official word on the test. If Rossi decides to fly to Aragon, Yamaha will doubtless put out a press release. A decision on his participation will not need to be taken until Saturday lunchtime, however. Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark has been called in to replace Rossi, and if he is to race, then Van der Mark must take part in qualifying.

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Valentino Rossi To Test Road Bike At Misano, Make Decision On Flying To Aragon

Michael van der Mark may be flying to Aragon to replace Valentino Rossi at the fourth Spanish round, but it is still not 100% certain that the Dutch Yamaha WorldSBK rider will get to make his MotoGP debut aboard Rossi's Movistar Yamaha M1.

According to reports in various Italian media, Valentino Rossi is to test his fitness on a Yamaha R6 at Misano this week. Just 18 days after breaking the tibia and fibula of his right leg and having surgery to insert titanium pins into the bones to fix them, Rossi will attempt to ride an R6 to gauge whether it will be worth his while flying to Spain for the Aragon round of MotoGP. 

Riding at Aragon would be a huge challenge, let alone racing there. The doctors' prognosis was that Rossi would need 30 days of recovery and rehabilitation before he would be in any shape to ride. That forecast is already optimistic: the last time Rossi broke his leg, it was over 40 days before he could return to racing. This break is less severe, however, which may allow an earlier return. Which is the reason Rossi wants to assess his ability to ride on an R6.

There is one major, and possibly insurmountable obstacle to a return, however. The weather forecast for Misano is not looking promising. It is set to rain on and off at Misano on Tuesday, meaning finding an hour of dry track time may prove impossible. Riding in the wet would be extremely inadvisable, but it would also not tell Rossi enough about whether his leg is strong enough to withstand the rigors of riding a MotoGP machine in the dry. Rossi will need dry track time to get a genuine idea of how fit he is.

Delaying until Wednesday is not really an option, as the weather forecast is much worse for then. Also, Rossi's crew chief Silvano Galbusera will need to be on his way to Aragon on Wednesday, making it even more difficult to test.

If Rossi decides to head to Aragon - with or without trying to ride a bike at Misano first - then he will have the first three sessions of practice to make up his mind. The FIM rules state that riders can be replaced up to 2 hours before the start of qualifying. It is unlikely that Rossi would leave it that long, however, as that would leave Michael van der Mark, who has no prior experience on a MotoGP bike, no time to get a feel for the bike, and ruin any chance the Dutchman might have of scoring an acceptable result.

The very fact that Rossi is even considering this is a sign that he still doesn't consider himself out of the championship race completely. Though he trails the leaders, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, by 42 points with only 125 points left in play for the next five races, this season has been such an unpredictable one that it may be worth taking the risk. That gamble, however, would only pay off if Rossi believed he could obtain a solid haul of points in Aragon. With a painful and weakened leg, against Marquez, Dovizioso, and Maverick Viñales all in the form of their lives, at a track which Marquez and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa love, would be a very big ask indeed.

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2018 Provisional MotoGP Calendar Released: Thailand Added, British Venue Uncertain

The provisional calendar for the 2018 MotoGP season has been released, and as expected, there are few surprises. The schedule has been expanded to 19 races with the inclusion of the Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which has a contract to host a race through 2020. 

The addition of Thailand hasn't altered the schedule much. The 2018 schedule is almost identical to this year's calendar, with just a few minor variations. The season kicks off a week early in Qatar, and to accommodate that earlier start, the time of the race is to be changed to 7pm local time. Starting earlier will mean that MotoGP avoids the evening dew that can render the track so treacherous.

The series takes two weekends off after Qatar, before embarking on a run of eight races spaced two weeks apart. The races follow the same sequence as this year: Argentina, Austin, Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, Assen, Sachsenring.

The spate of back-to-back races which plagued 2017 is gone, though it is at the expense of a summer break. There are only two weekends off in July, before MotoGP commences again, with the race at Brno on the first weekend in August. Austria follows a week later, the first back-to-back of the season. 

After Austria, MotoGP heads to the UK for the British Grand Prix. Where that will be held is still to be decided, though obviously the only choices are between Donington Park and Silverstone. Dorna appear to be leaning towards Donington, however, that is contingent on the circuit facilities undergoing a major upgrade. The advantage of Donington over Silverstone is that F1 does not race there, and consequently, the surface is a good deal less bumpy than Silverstone. A decision over which track gets the British Grand Prix could be some time, however.

Misano and Aragon follow Silverstone, and then the series packs up and heads overseas. Adding the Thai round has caused some scheduling headaches, with Dorna not wanting to have the four overseas races back to back. Instead the rounds are to be split into two.

At first, the idea was to make it a two-and-two split, but that proved not to be possible. Instead, Thailand will feature on its own, with a weekend off afterwards. When the circus returns after a free weekend, the overseas flyaway follows the same pattern as last year, with Motegi going first, then Phillip Island and Sepang. Sepang has a contract with Dorna now to be the penultimate round in the championship, an important sales tool now the circuit has ditched F1.

The season wraps up at Valencia, as usual, though the season finale is a week later than in previous years, on 18th November. The 2019 season starts two days later, with the first test at Valencia on the 20th.

Below is the provisional MotoGP calendar for 2018:

Date Grand Prix Venue
18 March Qatar* Losail International Circuit
08 April República Argentina Termas de Río Hondo
22 April Americas Circuit of The Americas
06 May Spain Circuito de Jerez
20 May France Le Mans
03 June Italy Autodromo del Mugello
17 June Catalunya Barcelona - Catalunya
01 July Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
15 July Germany Sachsenring
05 August Czech Republic Automotodrom Brno
12 August Austria Red Bull Ring - Spielberg
26 August Great Britain** TBA
09 September San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
23 September Aragón MotorLand Aragón
07 October Thailand Chang International Circuit Buriram
21 October Japan Twin Ring Motegi
28 October Australia Phillip Island
04 November Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
18 November Comunitat Valenciana Comunitat Valenciana - Ricardo Tormo

* Night race
** Circuit to be announced 

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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


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2018 MotoGP Rider Line Up So Far - One Seat Left To Fill

After the announcement that Tito Rabat is to take the GP17 at Avintia Ducati, there is only a single seat still left open on the 2018 MotoGP grid. Xavier Simeon is expected to take that seat, but nothing is yet decided. There are still question marks over Bradley Smith's future at KTM, team bosses unhappy with the Englishman's performance this year. A decision on Smith will likely be taken after the Aragon round of the series. 

Below is the line up as it stands on the Thursday before Misano:

Teams/Riders Bike Contract ends
Factory Teams
Movistar Yamaha
Valentino Rossi Yamaha M1 2018
Maverick Viñales Yamaha M1 2018
Repsol Honda
Dani Pedrosa Honda RC213V 2018
Marc Márquez Honda RC213V 2018
Ecstar Suzuki
Andrea Iannone Suzuki GSX-RR 2018
Alex Rins Suzuki GSX-RR 2018
Gresini Aprilia
Scott Redding Aprilia RS-GP 2018
Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP 2018
KTM Factory
Bradley Smith*1 KTM RC16 2018
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 2018
Factory Ducati
Jorge Lorenzo Ducati GP18 2018
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP18 2018
Satellite Teams
Pramac Ducati
Danilo Petrucci Ducati GP18 2018
Jack Miller Ducati GP17 2018
LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V 2019
Taka Nakagami Honda RC213V 2018
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Jonas Folger Yamaha M1 2018
Johann Zarco Yamaha M1 2018
Marc VDS Honda
Franco Morbidelli Honda RC213V 2019
Tom Luthi Honda RC213V 2018
Aspar Ducati
Alvaro Bautista Ducati GP17 2018
Karel Abraham Ducati GP16 2018
Avintia Ducati2
Tito Rabat Ducati GP17 2018
Xavier Simeon? Ducati GP16? ???

1. Since Austria, reports have continued that KTM is losing patience with Bradley Smith, and that they may swap his role with Mika Kallio, promoting Kallio to the MotoGP team and making Smith the test rider.
2. Avintia will have one Ducati GP17 at their disposal, with the option of a second one, if they can sign a competitive enough rider. With Rabat now signed, Xavier Simeon is strongly rumored to be close to a deal at Avintia, bringing substantial funding to the team.


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Tito Rabat Signs With Avintia Ducati - One More Seat To Fill

Tito Rabat is to race for the Reale Avintia team in 2018. The move had been widely expected, talks having started when it became clear there was no future for Rabat at his current Marc VDS Honda team. 

Rabat is to ride a Ducati Desmosedici GP17 at Avintia. The second seat at Avintia is the only seat still left open for the 2018 MotoGP season, and whoever Avintia choose to put on the bike - Belgian rider Xavier Simeon is the current favorite, bringing a sizable sum of money to the team - will use a GP16. The current MotoGP rider line up is here.

The press release announcing the signing of Rabat appears below:

Reale Avintia Racing welcomes Tito Rabat back home in 2018

Reale Avintia Racing is pleased to announce the agreement reached with Tito Rabat, which sees the Spanish rider join the team in 2018. For the former Moto2 World Champion, the agreement means the return to the team with which he had once started in the World Championship. Rabat will be riding a Ducati Desmosedici GP17, a bike with which he expects to achieve great results in the premier class.

Tito Rabat’s World Championship debut was in Valencia 2005, riding for Raul Romero’s team. In 2006, he secured a seat for the whole season and one year later, he signed with Repsol Team where he raced for two seasons in 125cc. In 2009, Rabat returned once again to the Blusens BQR team of Raul Romero. In two years, he achieved two podiums and finished the season in the top six. In 2011 he made his debut in Moto2 with his team and thanks to his strong performance riding the Blusens-STX FTR, including his first podium finish in Indianapolis, he signed with Sito Pons team for the following season. In his second season with Pons and riding a Kalex, he got his first Grand Prix win and finished the season wit two more victories and seven podium finishes. In 2014, he moved to the Marc VDS Racing team, where he completed a perfect season to clinch the Moto2 title. He won seven races and got 14 podium finishes in a hard-fought season where his main rivals were his teammate Mika Kallio and Maverick Viñales. He went out to defend the number one on his bike in 2015, but even though he was always fighting for the top three and also got some victories, Rabat finished the season in third place.

Rabat stepped up to MotoGP in 2016 with Marc VDS and Honda. His adaption the premier class has been difficult, but in the current season, he improved a lot and scored points in many races. In 2018, he will be back home, with all the support from Reale Avintia Racing and Ducati to make the final step and get closer to the top MotoGP riders.


“I’m very happy to sign with Reale Avintia Racing and to race with Ducati in 2018. I think we have done a good job in two years with Honda, but I think that it is time to change. Now I have a new opportunity to demonstrate that I can be fast and competitive in MotoGP. I’ll be racing in a team that I know since my childhood and with a bike that I think will suit my size and my style to perfection. This is a great opportunity and I’ll make the best of it. I will fight and give it all to be successful. I want to say thank you to Ducati and Reale Avintia Racing for trusting in me”.

RAÚL ROMERO | CEO Esponsorama

“Tito is like a son for me. He rode his first race for me in the Spanish Championship and he made his debut in the World Championship with my team. During his career, he raced in several teams, but always comes back home. After 125cc und Moto2, this is the third time Tito returns to our team and this time is in the MotoGP class. I’m convinced that this will be the pinnacle in his career and that we’ll achieve great results together with Ducati. Tito is a hard worker and this was his secret to become Moto2 World Champion. Next season he will ride a Desmosedici GP17, a bike that is on top of the classification with Dovizioso and that has been extremely competitive this year”.

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Valentino Rossi To Miss Misano

The Movistar Yamaha team have today confirmed that Valentino Rossi is to miss the Misano round of MotoGP. The injury the Italian sustained in a training accident last week is sufficiently severe that he will not be fit for his home round.

Yamaha had widely been expected to withdraw Rossi from Misano, given the fact that he had broken both the tibia and fibula of his right leg, and only had surgery to pin the bones in the early hours of Friday morning. The last time Rossi broke his leg, it was 40 days before he returned, making Motegi the earliest Rossi is likely to return.

It is also no surprise that Yamaha have opted not to field a replacement for Rossi, as we predicted yesterday. It would not be a popular move with the fans, and it would be hard to find a rider available, willing, and able to fill in for Rossi at such short notice.

If Rossi also misses Aragon, in just under three weeks' time, Yamaha will have to field a replacement. Though the Yamaha press release makes no mention of either how long they expect Rossi to be out, nor who would replace him, the most likely option is for Rossi to miss Aragon, and for test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga to take his place there.

The Yamaha press release appears below:


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Valentino Rossi will be unable to take part in the Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, this weekend.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 4th September 2017

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team regrets to report that Valentino Rossi will not be able to compete in the upcoming Gran Premio Tribul Mastercard di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, to be held this weekend.

The Factory Yamaha team will compete in round 13 of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship with Maverick Viñales as its sole rider.

The whole of Yamaha wishes Valentino Rossi a speedy recovery and hopes to see him back on his YZR-M1 as soon as possible.


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Takumi Takahashi To Race For Red Bull Honda At Portimao And Jerez

After the tragic death of Nicky Hayden, the Red Bull Honda team has struggled to fill the American's place in their WorldSBK team. Jake Gagne filled in at Laguna Seca, putting an American on the bike at the US round. Davide Giugliano had a modest outing on the Honda CBR1000RR at the Lausitzring, but he was not the long-term solution for the Ten Kate squad either.

For two of the next three WorldSBK rounds, the Red Bull team is to turn to Japanese rider Takumi Takahashi for assistance. The 27-year-old will take over the reins of the Honda CBR1000RR at both Portimao and Jerez. Takahashi will not be able to ride the bike at Magny-Cours, as it clashes with the Okayama round of the All-Japan Superbike Championship, in which he is currently second, five points behind the leader.

The addition of Takahashi is an interesting move by the Ten Kate squad. Takahashi is an official HRC test rider, and has extensive experience on the Honda CBR1000RR, and has had an important role in helping develop the bike in both the Japanese championship and the Suzuka 8 Hour race. Takahashi brings a wealth of knowledge to the Red Bull Honda team.

The question is, how much of a signal is this that HRC are willing to back the Honda WorldSBK project? Both Stefan Bradl and Nicky Hayden, before his untimely demise, roundly criticized the lack of support the project was getting, and the lack of development going into the bike. The 2017 bike seems to be a step backward from last year, results having gone downhill in the first half of this season. The Red Bull team is yet to sign anyone for the 2018 season, and Stefan Bradl is said to have demanded progress with the bike before making a commitment for next year. Takahashi coming over from HRC could be a sign that they are aware of Bradl's, and the team's, concerns.

Below is the press release from the Red Bull Honda squad confirming Takahashi as a replacement:

Takahashi to race with the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team at Portimão and Jerez

The Red Bull Honda World Superbike team is pleased to announce that 27-year-old Japanese rider Takumi Takahashi will be racing alongside full-time rider Stefan Bradl in the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship at the Portimão and Jerez rounds.

Takahashi, who is an official test rider of Honda Racing Corporation (HRC), has a vast experience with the CBR1000RR Fireblade, winning the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race three times with the Fireblade in 2010, 2013 and 2014 and also in the JSB1000 class of the MFJ All-Japan Road Race Championship Series (JRR) where he rides for the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda team.

This year, Takahashi has won the first two rounds of the All-Japan Superbike Championship on board the all-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, and he is currently second in the Championship standings, five points behind the leader.

Takahashi’s vast experience will help Honda and the team in their ongoing development of the WorldSBK-spec version of the new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.

Marco Chini
Honda's WorldSBK Operations Manager

We are happy to welcome Takumi-san into the team and are looking forward to seeing him on track at Portimão and Jerez. He is a very talented rider and this year has really stepped up his game; he is definitely among the quickest riders in Japan. Honda has always had an extremely high regard of his skills as a racer and test rider, and his long-term experience with the Fireblade will surely help the team and Honda to have a clearer idea of the current package in order to plan future developments.

- Honda Motor Europe

Takumi Takahashi

I’m honoured, as a rider who has continuously fought to race on the world stage, that my achievements and experience have been recognized, and I have been given the opportunity to race in the World Superbike Championship. I’ll use all of the experience I’ve gained racing the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 in the All-Japan championship to aim high and contribute to the team. I’d like to ride my best in front of the world’s Superbike fans, so I hope they’ll look forward to seeing me.


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Surgery Successful For Valentino Rossi, Back On Bike "As Soon As Possible"

Valentino Rossi had surgery in the early hours of Friday morning to insert metal pins into the fractured broken bones in his lower leg. The operation was deemed a success, and Rossi is to start his recovery as soon as possible. Surgery was carried out in Ancona, after the Italian had originally been treated in hospital in Urbino, where he had been taken after the enduro training crash in which he broke his leg.

The operation is similar to the one he underwent after breaking his leg at Mugello in 2010. A pin was inserted into his tibia then, which he had removed at the start of the 2012 season. At the time of the Mugello accident, Dr Buzzi, the surgeon who operated on Rossi estimated that the recovery period would be 6 months. However, Rossi was back on track 40 days later, taking part in practice at the Sachsenring. Practice for the Motegi round of MotoGP starts in 42 days, on Friday, 13th October.

It is clear that Rossi intends to make a speedy return to racing. The press release issued by Yamaha quotes Rossi as saying that he hopes to be back riding the Movistar Yamaha M1 "as soon as possible".

The press release from Yamaha appears below:

VR46 MEDICAL UPDATE, 01-09-17 - 10:30

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Valentino Rossi received successful surgery on the displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

Ancona (Italy), 1st September 2017

Last night Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi had a successful operation on the displaced fractures of the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

The MotoGP-star was hospitalised after an enduro accident yesterday evening.

Following a medical examination at the ’Ospedale Civile di Urbino', where he was initially diagnosed, the Italian was transported to the 'Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Ospedali Riuniti' in Ancona.

Upon arrival, he received surgery between 2am – 3am by Dr. Raffaele Pascarella, Director of the Orthopedics and Traumatology Division. During the surgery the fractures were fixated using a metal pin - a locked intramedullary nail - without any complications.

Further medical updates will follow in due course.

Yamaha would like to thank the entire staff of the 'Ospedale Civile di Urbino' and 'Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona' for their dedication and professional care.


The surgery went well. This morning, when I woke up, I felt already good. I would like to thank the staff of the Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, and in particular Doctor Pascarella who operated on me. I'm very sorry for the incident. Now I want to be back on my bike as soon as possible. I will do my best to make it happen!



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