Former World Supersport champion Andrew Pitt will make his MotoGP debut for Kawasaki at the Gauloises Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang, after being called up to deputise for the injured Akira Yanagawa for the remainder of the 2002 season.

The 26-year old Australian received a last-minute call-up when it emerged that Yanagawa's injuries - sustained in a seventh lap crash in last Sunday's Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi - were worse than first feared, preventing him from competing at Sepang. Although initially thought to have been uninjured in the crash, Yanagawa was eventually diagnosed with a fractured bone in his hip, which will rule the Japanese veteran out of the final three rounds in Malaysia, Australia and Spain.

"?I saw the crash on TV, but it was only when Harald Eckl phoned from Japan and told me to pack my bags and catch a flight out to Malaysia that I found out Akira had been injured," Pitt explained, "Every rider wants to compete at this level, so this is a fantastic opportunity for me, although I'd have preferred it if it hadn't come about as a result of Akira's crash.

Yanagawa's crash ended a frustrating MotoGP debut for the Eckl-run Kawasaki squad in Japan, but Pitt will hope to turn things around this weekend, despite heading into the event almost blindfold. The Aussie has endured a frustrating season while defending his WSS title and, despite finally winning races in the category, will hope to make amends this weekend as he puts his case for a full-time ride in MotoGP next year.

"Sepang is a new circuit for me and I haven't even sat on the new ZX-RR yet, never mind ridden it, so I won't be going out there to set the world on fire in my first race," he said.



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