Interwetten Honda boss Daniel Epp has challenged his replacement rider Kousuke Akiyoshi to beat fellow Japanese tester Wataru Yoshikawa in next weekend's Catalan Grand Prix.

HRC test rider Akiyoshi has been drafted into the satellite RCV team for Assen and Catalunya following Hiroshi Aoyama's back injury.

Akiyoshi unsurprisingly qualified and finished 15th and last during the Dutch TT weekend, with his best race lap 3.5sec from the best by factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.

But Epp feels comparing 35-year-old Akiyoshi to the grand prix regulars is a little unfair, and is instead 'curious' to see if Akiyoshi can beat 41-year-old Yoshikawa - who will ride in place of injured world champion Valentino Rossi for Fiat Yamaha - at Barcelona.

"You can see from the result of Kousuke that the level of the MotoGP riders is very high," began Epp. "Kousuke improved step by step during this weekend and he did all he could do. He had never been to this track before.

"[But] Barcelona he knows and in Barcelona there will also be a second test rider, as the replacement for Valentino Rossi, and I am looking forward to seeing the battle between the two test riders.

"I am curious to see who will win this battle," he declared.

Although Aoyama is almost certain to miss the following German and US Grands Prix, Akiyoshi is not thought likely to continue with Interwetten beyond Barcelona.



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