Michael van der Mark is to get his MotoGP chance after all. After missing out at Aragon, when he was called up to replace Valentino Rossi, but Rossi raced to a stunning 5th place, Van der Mark has been drafted in to replace Jonas Folger in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. Van der Mark will take Folger's place at the Sepang MotoGP race next weekend.
This may not be Van der Mark's only appearance on a MotoGP bike this season. Though Jonas Folger is still undergoing tests to diagnose his illness, the most probable explanation is a recurrence of the Epstein Barr virus, which he has had previously. Though very rare, the disease can sometimes flare up again years after first being caught. This makes it likely that Folger will also be forced to miss the final race of 2017 at Valencia, in which case Van der Mark would be the obvious choice to replace him.
Van der Mark's call up leaves the Dutchman with a very busy schedule. Having just completed the second race of the Spanish round of WorldSBK on Sunday, he must now make his way to Malaysia, for the MotoGP race at Sepang. After the Sepang race, he will then have to get on a plane to Qatar, for the last round of WorldSBK. From there, he will head home to Europe, but that trip could include a stopover at Valencia to fill in for Folger, if the German is absent at the final MotoGP round.
The press release from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team appears below:
Van der Mark to ride for Monster Yamaha Tech3 at Sepang
World Superbike front-runner Michael van der Mark will jump on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 YZR-M1 to replace the recovering Jonas Folger at the Malaysian GP. The young Dutch rider rose through the ranks of the Superbike leagues before winning the World Supersport Championship in 2014. Some strong performances this year, including two podium finishes aboard the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team YZF-R1, leave the MotoGP paddock eager to see how Van der Mark will perform at the penultimate round of the 2017 World Championship.
Michael van der Mark
"It goes without saying that I am really excited. I came quite close to getting the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike a few weeks ago, but it didn’t work out. Then Hervé called, and although I will have a busy schedule, I could not say no to this chance. I am very happy and I look forward to this adventure. Luckily, I know Sepang, but the MotoGP riders have done a lot of tests there this year, so everyone will be fast. However, I just want to enjoy this weekend, to improve myself and see how it is to ride the YZR-M1. At the moment we have some good momentum in World Superbikes so I think it is the perfect time to jump on the Yamaha. I look forward to riding the bike and I want to thank Hervé and Yamaha for this opportunity."