Michael van der Mark was in a reflective mood on Thursday ahead of a weekend that could see him stand in for the returning Valentino Rossi, and stated “I’m ready” should the Italian find his physical condition prevents him from racing on Sunday.

The Dutchman, who races for Yamaha’s World Superbike effort and notched up a victory for the factory at this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours, was called up to deputise for this weekend in the wake of the double fracture Rossi sustained to his right leg when training just over two weeks ago.

And although Rossi confirmed on Wednesday that he would attempt to take part in the 14th round of the season just 20 days after sustaining the painful break, van der Mark did not cut a figure of disappointment when addressing the press.

Rather the opposite. van der Mark had, he said, always considered the possibility of Rossi attempting to ride, and insisted he was ‘honoured’ to be chosen as a possible back-up. What’s more, having arrived to the track and spoken to Rossi’s team, he feels he is prepared to ride the M1 should the occasion arise.

“To be honest I knew Valentino would try just before the weekend,” van der Mark said. “I always kept in mind that there was an opportunity that he was going to race. I didn’t really focus only on riding tomorrow morning. I always thought, ‘Just wait and see.’

“I think it’s really incredible what he did. In my opinion I would have done the same so I’m not really disappointed. It’s just amazing that Yamaha asked me to come here and if possible to ride the bike.

“I did some research myself, you know some small things. I came yesterday and everybody wants to explain everything to me. We also know that maybe I don’t need it. They showed me some small things in case I need to know what will happen.

“It’s not as though I was at home studying everything because I had to focus on Superbike. I came here and they explained to me the things that I need to know. If it happens I’m ready.”

On Yamaha’s decision to select his name from a shortlist of four riders, that also included team-mate Alex Lowes and factory test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, van der Mark said, “I feel really honoured that they looked at Superbike and finally asked a Superbike rider.

“I think even if we didn’t have a great result in Suzuka they would have asked us as well. I feel really part of the Yamaha family. This is something I feel really proud of. You can ride for a team but MotoGP looked to us and they even asked me to ride here. This never happened to me before so this makes me really happy also really respected.”

Despite his experience at the Suzuka 8-Hour, the 24-year old has yet to sample a MotoGP machine. Does the prospect of climbing aboard the factory M1 for the first time for FP2 (or later) not fill him with a degree of fear?

“Well, who doesn’t want to ride a MotoGP bike,” came his response. “Of course, it’s not ideal but it wasn’t ideal already because I haven’t tested a GP bike anyway. It depends. If I go out, I’ll go out and make the best of it and enjoy this amazing opportunity.”


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