Michael van der Mark says his MotoGP debut has come in less than ideal circumstances but replacing the injured Valentino Rossi for Movistar Yamaha was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

The Pata Yamaha rider has been selected as stand-in for Rossi at the Aragon MotoGP round as the nine-time world champion continues to recover from displaced fractures of his right tibia and fibula suffered in an enduro training accident.

While the factory Yamaha MotoGP squad was unable to field a replacement at Rossi’s home round at Misano this weekend the team must field a second rider due to championship rules for the Aragon round after it was confirmed the Italian rider wouldn't be able to recover in time.

With van der Mark getting the call it will mark his debut in MotoGP, becoming the first Dutch MotoGP rider since Jurgen van Goorbergh in 2005, and despite the difficult circumstances plus no previous testing or experience on the YZF-M1 the 24-year-old is relishing the chance.

“When I saw what happened with Valentino, I knew there were going to be some races ahead that he will need a replacement,” van der Mark told WorldSBK.com. “My manager spoke with Lin Jarvis to see what the situation was. Immediately they said they will need a replacement for Aragon, and they had a couple of options but in the end they chose me.”

“Nobody can really replace Valentino, and it’s not what you want to have to happen. He’s one of the best riders in the world and it’s a shame he’s not on the grid, but it’s amazing that I get the opportunity to ride his bike and to race instead of him.

“It’s difficult to say how I feel about it, because for sure he needs to be there on the MotoGP grid, however it’s also amazing that I get this opportunity.”

The Dutch rider’s Pata Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes stepped in at the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team last year while Bradley Smith was injured and had also been in the running to be Rossi’s replacement.

But Yamaha has opted for van der Mark who confesses he has no idea what to expect from the M1 and MotoGP but will hope to rely on advice from Lowes and Maverick Vinales to get up to speed during the Aragon race weekend.

“It’s a completely different bike but I’m really happy to be riding one of the best MotoGP bikes in the world,” he said. “I don’t know what to expect, all parts of the bike are a little different; such as the carbon fibre brakes and the tyres.

“Alex and I have already been discussing what he did last year on the M1. He told me it’s a fantastic bike and he said that I will love it. It’s so different, fun and good, so we have already spoken, but it was before I even had the opportunity to ride the bike. But he knows I will love the bike, I think I will be like a kid at Christmas.

“When I saw the races that would be possible I was pleased to see I would be going to a track which I have raced around before compared to one I hadn’t been to. I’m happy it’s on a track I know and I really like as well, so this fell in my favour and will help me a lot to get used to the bike.”

After a frantic summer schedule combining his World Superbike campaign with helping Yamaha successfully defend its Suzuka 8 Hours title alongside Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, van der Mark has an intense three weeks of action ahead.

Starting with the Portimao round (15-17 September) in the World Superbike championship next weekend the Dutch rider will then head to Aragon for his MotoGP debut (22-24 September) before returning to the production-based series a week later for the Magny-Cours round (29 September-1 October).


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