Fabrizio completed a partial, but at times impressive, MotoGP season with underdogs WCM in 2004, before splitting from the team mid-season and heading for the World Supersport championship with Honda.

The Italian remained in WSS for 2005, finishing fifth in the championship, before graduating to the premier WSBK class with DFX Honda the following season. The Italian took a best finish of second on his way to eleventh in the championship, but has failed to better sixth so far this year as the gap between factory and privateer teams grows.

Sachsenring will mark the second time Fabrizio has replaced an injured Elias, after also being given the Spaniard's ride for last year's British Grand Prix. On that occasion, Michel missed the race after breaking his collarbone during free practice and the 22-year-old will naturally be hoping for much better luck next weekend.

But the biggest news is that, just one week after the German Grand Prix, Duhamel will - as suggested on Tuesday - make a surprise (four-stroke) MotoGP debut, at the age of 39, in the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca.

The Canadian finished 12th in the 1992 500cc World Championship for Team Yamaha France, but has otherwise raced in the AMA championships continuously since 1990, winning eight titles - one in Superbike, five in Supersport and two in Formula Xtreme - plus five Daytona 200 victories.

The long time American Honda rider will now aim to exploit his enormous experience at the tough-to-learn Californian circuit - where former AMA rival Nicky Hayden has taken victory on both of MotoGP's previous visits.

Duhamel currently sits fourth in the 2007 AMA Superbike championship, with a best finish of second so far this season.

Gresini Honda is the only RC212V team to use Bridgestone tyres and has been the best performing satellite Honda outfit during a difficult year for HRC - Elias and Marco Melandri having taken one podium each during the first nine rounds.

Elias, who broke his left femur during practice at Assen, is hoping to return to MotoGP action at Brno on August 19, the round after Laguna Seca.