The Camel Honda Team has confirmed that World Superbike star Chris Vermeulen will make his MotoGP debut, replacing the injured Troy Bayliss, at his home Australian Grand Prix.

Bayliss badly broke his wrist while training on a motocross bike three-weeks ago. To aid his recovery, no less than eighteen screws were inserted, but the former World Superbike champion will still be unfit to ride at Phillip Island in two-weeks.

Troy's seat had been handed to Shane Byrne for the past two GPs, where the out-of-work Brit finished 14th and 13th respectively, but Vermeulen - tipped as a future Honda MotoGP star - will now, as rumoured, take over the ride and get his own big chance to impress the MotoGP bosses.

The 23-year-old Australian has won five WSBK races this season for Winston Ten Kate Honda, but was forced to concede his slim chance of the title to countryman Troy Corser after heavy rain forced race two at Sunday's penultimate Imola round to be abandoned.

"I'm very excited. MotoGP is where I want to go and to have my first race in Australia is great," Chris told at Imola.

"The downside is I've never ridden the bike before, never ridden with carbon brakes, only had a couple of days on Michelins at the Suzuka Eight Hours and I don't know the team.

"It's going to be hard work, but I'm really looking forward to it. For sure I would have loved to get some testing in before I went there, but I'm going to go out and give it 100%.

"Shakey's done reasonably well - I think - in the last two races, so my goal is to do better than he has done. If I can do that then I'll be happy," added Vermeulen, who will ride in the WSBK season finale at Magny-Cours this weekend.

"I had a (MotoGP) test scheduled for the end of last season, but had to miss that because of an injury, so I'm really happy that this chance has come round again.

"However, I've still got one more round in the World Superbike championship for the Winston Ten Kate Honda team. That's my job for this (upcoming) weekend and that's what I'll be focusing on 100%.

"Right now, the GP ride is a special, end-of-season bonus for me," he concluded.

It is not clear if Vermeulen will appear at all three of the remaining MotoGP rounds, with only Australia currently confirmed. It is believed that Bayliss is targeting a return for the Valencia season finale - an event which may mark his final MotoGP outing.

Vermeulen's own chances of a 2006 MotoGP ride appear slim at present, but that could all change with an impressive performance in Australia...



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