Following Loris Capirossi's hand injury last weekend at Catalunya, reigning double AMA Superbike champions Ben Spies has been called up to replace the Italian at the forthcoming British Grand Prix, on June 22.

Spies had been expecting to make his MotoGP debut alongside regular Rizla Suzuki riders Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen at his home US Grand Prix on July 20 - with a further wild-card ride planned for the inaugural Indianapolis event, on September 14.

However, with Capirossi fracturing his hand at Catalunya, Suzuki's 23-year-old American star has been handed a surprise early debut - albeit at a track he has never seen before.

"I was excited that my first GP was to be at Laguna Seca in the States, but I'm now more excited by this!" said Spies. "I think this will be a good thing for me to start out at Donington; it is a track I don't know so I have no pressure. I haven't done any testing on the bike or with race and qualifying tyres so I am not really expected to do anything much, so I can just go out there and learn how everything works and enjoy the event.

"This will be good for when we get back to the wild-card races in Laguna and Indianapolis because I know those tracks and I'll have some knowledge of the bike and be able to put my head down and go for it there. This is great for me to get the chance, but it is in an unfortunate way that I am there because of the injury to Loris and I wish him all the best on a full recovery. I hope I can represent everybody really good and just want to go out there and have some fun!" he added.

Capirossi, who was injured after being bumped off track by rookie Alex de Angelis, is now targeting a return at the following weekend's race at Assen.

"I'm really disappointed not to be racing at Donington as it is the team's home grand prix and I know there will be a lot of fans there that have come to see us," said Loris. "I tried to get fit and although Dr Costa says the break is healing well, it won't be good for me to race there as it won't be strong enough. So I hope to be back for Assen. I wish Ben all the best on his debut, but he shouldn't get too comfortable on my bike because I want it back soon!"

Capirossi may have been joking, but Spies aims to move to MotoGP as a full time rider next season and so will be out to impress both Rizla Suzuki and other potential future employers...

Like Capirossi and Spies, Vermeulen's future is also still to be confirmed. The Australian star finished third in wet weather conditions at the British venue last year and is looking for another stand-out ride to rejuvenate his 2008 season.

"We have improved over the last couple of races and we need to keep that going. It is no secret that I have not had the best of starts to the season but I know we can turn things around," he declared. "We tried a lot of different things in the test at Catalunya on the Monday and found some stuff that will help us go forward not just in Britain but at other tracks as well. Donington is like a home race for me as I spent a lot of my early career racing in the UK so it is always good for me to come back here and I'll be hoping to put on a good show for all the fans and give my mostly UK based team something to shout about!"

 

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