Petrucci won’t replace Mir at Suzuki, priority MotoAmerica

Danilo Petrucci has confirmed he was asked by Suzuki to replace the injured Joan Mir at next weekend’s Misano round.
Danilo Petrucci , American Superbike, race 2, Grand Prix of the Americas, 10 April
Danilo Petrucci , American Superbike, race 2, Grand Prix of the Americas,…

But the Italian ultimately declined the offer in order to focus on his MotoAmerica title challenge with Ducati.

“I will most likely be at Misano [as a spectator], but not on the Suzuki,” double MotoGP race winner Petrucci told “I talked to Ducati, I thought about it all night, but my priority remains MotoAmerica.”

Petrucci is currently locked in a close championship battle with reigning MotoAmerica champion Jake Gagne, who is just one point ahead of the Italian with two rounds remaining.

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Suzuki must ‘make every reasonable effort to provide a substitute rider’

Mir has been forced out of next weekend’s event after suffering bone and ligament injuries to his right ankle in a huge opening lap highside at the Red Bull Ring.

The MotoGP rules state that teams must ‘make every reasonable effort to provide a qualified substitute rider… within 10 days of withdrawal’.

That would normally mean simply calling up Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli, who has made ten MotoGP appearances on the GSX-RR in recent years.

But the Frenchman is also unavailable, having injured his hand in preparation for the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race.

Sylvain Guintoli , Sepang MotoGP test, 5 February
Sylvain Guintoli , Sepang MotoGP test, 5 February

While there are plenty of riders that would no doubt like to race a factory MotoGP bike, there are very few that are qualified to do so.

Firstly, substitutes are 'subject to approval by the Selection Committee’, a rule that was brought in after Avintia Ducati named CEV Superbike rider Christophe Ponsson as a surprise replacement for the 2018 Misano round.

Then, in order to take part in MotoGP qualifying, a replacement - like all riders - must set a lap time within 105% of the top during one of the four Free Practice sessions.

Both criteria favour those with previous MotoGP experience, but with Guintoli unavailable and a replacement technically needed, Suzuki has been forced to cast a wider net.

A World Superbike or top Moto2 rider could be a viable option, with Garrett Gerloff and Jake Dixon doing a solid stand-in job for Yamaha last season.

But in Suzuki's case, all of the WorldSBK frontrunners are contracted to rival factories.

Meanwhile, most Moto2 riders, aside from having their own championships to consider, have no experience of a larger 1000cc machine - let alone the unique tyres, electronics, ride-height devices and carbon brakes of a MotoGP prototype.

Dixon stands out from the Moto2 pack due to his previous Petronas Yamaha rides and other big-bike experience in BSB, but a Suzuki ride would halt his current rise up the Moto2 championship table, after podiums in the last three rounds for Aspar.

Instead, GPOne names young Italian Axel Bassani as next on the list (after Petrucci) at Suzuki. Bassini is seventh in the WorldSBK standings with a best finish of fourth this season for the Motocorsa Ducati team. 

But some suggest that - with Guintoli injured and Petrucci declining the chance - Suzuki has made a 'reasonable effort' and should be allowed to enter just a single bike for Alex Rins at Misano.

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