Japanese Superbike rider to replace Mir at San Marino MotoGP
Suzuki has named Kazuki Watanabe as Joan Mir’s replacement for the MotoGP San Marino round.
Mir suffered a broken right ankle, as well as ligament damage, after a highside in Round 1 of the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend.
With the Spaniard advised to rest for 15 days, he was excluded from the Misano event, but Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli was also already injured due to an incident at the Suzuka 8 Hours.
The Hamamatsu brand has therefore called on a driver who finished third in this Suzuka round of the World Endurance Championship (EWC), namely Watanabe.
“First of all I would like to wish Joan a speedy recovery from the injury he suffered, he is a great driver to watch and I hope he will be back on track soon,” said the 31-year-old pilot.
“I was really happy to receive the call about the replacement at Misano, it will be amazing to try the MotoGP bike on this track.
“I will do my best to perform well and give something back to the team that gave me this chance.”
Watanabe has five Grand Prix starts to his name, all in the 250cc/Moto2 class in 2009 and 2010.
He is currently third in the All Japan Road Race Series, riding a GSX-R1000R for Yoshimura Suzuki RideWin.
Suzuki Ecstar Team Manager Livio Suppo said: “We are very sorry that Joan cannot race at Misano and we wish her a speedy recovery.
“In the meantime, we are delighted to welcome Kazuki Watanabe to our team.
“He has a lot of experience with Suzuki and he is having a solid season in the All Japan Series; he also finished third in the Suzuka 8 Hours just a few weeks ago.
“The GSX-RR will be a very different challenge, but we will do our best for Watanabe-san to get the most out of this experience.”
Mir is expected to move to Repsol Honda at the end of the year, when Suzuki winds down its MotoGP program as well as that of the EWC.
Practice in Misano starts Friday evening (AEST).