Suzuki names Joan Mir’s replacement for Misano MotoGP

Suzuki has announced that Kazuki Watanabe will replace the injured Joan Mir for next weekend’s Misano MotoGP.
Joan Mir, MotoGP, British MotoGP, 6 August
Joan Mir, MotoGP, British MotoGP, 6 August

With test rider Sylvain Guintoli also injured, but the MotoGP rules requiring the team to make ‘every reasonable effort' to provide a substitute rider, Suzuki had approached Danilo Petrucci.

However, the Italian reluctantly turned the offer down in order to focus on his MotoAmerica title challenge with Ducati.

World Superbike rider Axel Bassani was then rumoured as a Plan B.

Without giving any names, team manager Livio Suppo told that he didn’t believe the 105% rule would be a problem for a 'SBK rider' to achieve, even with no MotoGP experience.

It's now been revealed that the 'SBK rider' won't be from WorldSBK but Japan, the decision going in favour of Kazuki Watanabe, 31, who races for Suzuki in the Japanese Superbike championship and Suzuka 8 Hours.

Remote video URL

“First thing’s first, I would like to wish Joan a speedy recovery from the injury he suffered, he’s a great rider to watch and I hope he’ll be back on track soon,” Watanabe said.

"I was really pleased to receive the call about substituting in Misano, it will be amazing to try the MotoGP bike around that track. I will do my best to perform well and give something back to the team who have given me this chance.”

Suppo added: “We are very sorry that Joan won't be able to race in Misano and we wish him a fast recovery!

“Meanwhile we’re pleased to welcome Kazuki Watanabe to our team, he has a lot of experience with Suzuki and he is putting together a strong season in the All Japan series, he also got 3rd at 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 in order for him to get the maximum out of this experience!”

Kazuki Watanabe
Kazuki Watanabe

Watanabe has made five previous grand prix appearances, a 14th place on his debut in the now defunct 250cc class being the only points scored. His other world championship outings were in Moto2 during the 2010 season.

In order to take part in MotoGP qualifying at Misano, Watanabe will need to set a lap time within 105% of the top during one of the four Free Practice sessions.

Watanabe will ride alongside Alex Rins, with Mir aiming to return to action at the following Aragon round.

Suzuki is withdrawing from MotoGP after the Valencia finale on November 6. Rins is switching to LCR Honda next year, with Mir set to be confirmed at the factory Repsol team.

Read More