Aleix Espargaro is preparing to become the youngest Spaniard to race in MotoGP, having received a surprise call up from the Pramac Ducati team.
Without even a grand prix ride at the start of year, 20-year-old Espargaro - who claimed a career best fourth during a stand-in 250GP appearance at Assen earlier this year - has been selected by the satellite Ducati team to replace Mika Kallio at the next two rounds, starting this weekend in Indianapolis.
Kallio is in turn replacing the absent Casey Stoner at the factory Ducati Marlboro squad.
"I have trained a lot during this period, waiting for a call, but I would have never thought about racing in the top class: it will be a true honour to ride for such a prestigious company as Ducati. I have to thank Pramac Racing for believing in my qualities,” said Espargaro, a full time 125/250GP rider from 2005-2008.
“This season, after the unlucky events at the beginning of the season, I made it to race in the 250cc class on two occasions, Assen and Sachsenring, conquering respectively fourth and the seventh position.
"Of course I cannot expect similar results in MotoGP, but I will do my best to payback the trust that the team has given me,” he added.
Espargaro has been chosen by Pramac Racing team principal Paolo Campinoti.
"We are very happy to have Aleix with us, he has done well in his short career and this year he hasn't be so lucky - remaining without a team when everybody was already set up,” he said.
“He will become the youngest Spanish rider in the MotoGP class and thus underline that our project can give young riders to chance to show their qualities in the top class of motorcycle road racing,” Campinoti declared.
Ducati's WSBK star Michel Fabrizio stood in for Kallio at Brno, but withdrew early in the race with shoulder pain after qualifying 16th out of the 17 riders.
Meanwhile, regular Pramac rider Niccolo Canepa has high hopes for his Indianapolis race debut, having impressed during testing at the circuit last season (pictured).