Tito Rabat’s team-mate Xavier Simeon will compete on his Reale Avintia Ducati GP17 at the Misano round with Christophe Ponsson joining the team for his MotoGP debut.

With Rabat expected to be a long-term absentee following his triple leg fracture suffered in a horrific accident during FP4 during the British MotoGP round, which was later cancelled due to safety concerns, Avintia has called upon FIM CEV Superbike contender Ponsson as its replacement rider for the Misano round.

Simeon will switch to Rabat’s Ducati GP17 machine with 22-year-old Ponsson taking up the Belgium rider’s GP16-specificaiton bike.

It follows a similar late call made by the team two years ago when it opted for debutant Mike Jones following Hector Barbera’s injury, with the Australian rider managing to score points at his home round at Phillip Island.

“I’m super happy and excited. I really want to get on the bike,” Ponsson said. “Racing in MotoGP is the dream of any rider and I still cannot believe that on Friday I will be on track with the riders I see from home every weekend.

“I always try to learn from them on TV and now I can do it on the track. I am happy. I am 22-years-old and this opportunity is something incredible.

“I know it will be difficult and I will have to learn many things in a very short time, the bike, the carbon brakes, the Michelin tires, but I am willing to enjoy and learn. I will try to give my best on the bike and I hope to reward the team and all those who have helped me to fulfil my dream.”

Simeon is also relishing the opportunity to upgrade to the GP17 at Misano and hopes he can enjoy similar gains having failed to score a point this year compared to Rabat’s seven top 15 finishes in the opening 11 rounds.

“The first thing is to wish Tito the best possible recovery, he is a great guy and I hope he comes back very soon,” Simeon said. “But I cannot hide that I'm very happy to get on his bike.

“Tito has done great things this year and for me it is a great opportunity to get on the GP17, I will try to give the maximum and I hope to get as close as possible to his level. I hope Tito recovers soon and I have to give gas to take advantage of this opportunity as he deserves.”

Ducati test rider Michele Pirro had been rumoured as the rider to replace Rabat but had already been entered into the Misano MotoGP round on a factory Ducati wildcard entry.



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