The Kawasaki Racing Team has named its replacement rider for the injured Chris Vermeulen at the forthcoming Silverstone round of the World Superbike Championship.
The factory ride has been given to 39-year-old Akira Yanagawa, who has a long standing history with Kawasaki in both the All-Japan Road Race and World Superbike Championships.
From 1997 until 2001, Yanagawa made over 100 WSBK starts, from which he claimed three race wins and a further 20 podiums finishes.
Yanagawa also became the first Japanese rider to win a WSBK race outside of his homeland, at the A1 Ring in Austria in 1997, on his way to a best championship position of fourth in that same year.
From 2001-to-date, the Japanese has been involved in testing and development for the ex-MotoGP squad - he also gave the ZX-RR its race debut as a wild-card at Motegi in 2002 - plus the existing ZX-10R and the all new 2011 Ninja machine.
“I feel sorry for Chris Vermeulen for his injury and I wish him the best of luck for his recovery, however I am very happy to help the Kawasaki Racing Team in his absence," said Yanagawa.
" It has been many years since I raced in World Superbikes so it will be a pleasure to be part of this series once again and attend the Silverstone event. I have a long-standing relationship with Kawasaki and the Ninja ZX-10R machine so I am sure I will fit in to the team just fine and hopefully make a good result.
"I am very excited to return to England and to race again in this Championship. ”
“We are delighted to welcome Akira to the Kawasaki Racing Team for our home race at Silverstone later this month," said team owner Paul Bird. "To have someone of his experience and racing history join my team is an honour.
"He is probably one of the most famous Kawasaki riders and someone who has a very competitive, fighting spirit which will be greatly received on this side of the garage.
"Obviously Chris has struggled ever since his crash at Phillip Island and although it is a shame to not have his presence in the garage, we wish nothing more than to move forward and get both bikes back inside the points again.”
Vermeulen will miss the rest of the season and is awaiting further medical instructions on how best to proceed.
The fact that Yanagawa is only due to ride at Silverstone suggests another rider may take over the seat in the 2010 rounds thereafter.