Yamaha World Superbike star Garrett Gerloff is on standby to take over from Valentino Rossi should the Italian be unable to make the grid for this weekend’s European Grand Prix.
Rossi was forced to skip both MotoGP contests held at Aragon after being diagnosed with Covid-19, and due to doubt over his participation in this weekend’s first Valencia outing after failing a Covid test on Tuesday, Yamaha has elected to line-up Gerloff as replacement.
The seven-time premier class champion will undergo another test on Wednesday, though if he fails he will have to forego the encounter and instead focus on returning for the Valencian GP next weekend due to not having enough time to pass the customary two tests ahead of the event and then fly to Valencia in time.
Yamaha confirmed that Gerloff will receive “full support” from Rossi’s usual race squad, while the American will become the first rider from the US since the late Nicky Hayden subbed for Dani Pedorsa at the factory Honda outfit at the 2016 Australian GP at Phillip Island.
“I’m honored that Yamaha has considered me for this opportunity,” said Gerloff in a short Twitter statement.
“But I am just sorry to get this opportunity under these unfortunate circumstances for Valentino. I hope that he recovers soon, we all miss him on track!”
Gerloff enjoyed a break-out debut season in World Superbikes with Yamaha-satellite outfit GRT this year, scoring three podiums on his way to 11th in the overall standings in his first year in an international-staged series.
Prior to his time in World Superbikes, he enjoyed considerable success across the Superbike and Supersport classes in MotoAmerica, having secured back-to-back Supersport titles in ’16 and ’17 respectively before graduating into the Superbike class for a two year stint.
He collected four wins and 16 further rostrum results across his time on Yamaha’s YZR-M1 superbike to manage a best riders championship finish of third in ’19, earning him a chance with the manufacturer in the World Superbike stage.
Rossi meanwhile was officially ruled out of title contention after missing both Aragon races, having now slipped 79 points in-arrears of points leader Joan Mir with only 75 left in play.
Three successive crashes prior to his Covid diagnosis had already derailed his charge for an eighth premier class title though, while his high-point so far this season was a solitary podium finish after taking third in the Andalucian GP at Jerez.
The ’20 campaign is Rossi’s last as part of the factory Yamaha MotoGP outfit, though he confirmed a one-year deal with satellite organisation Sprinta Racing in a straight swap with Fabio Quartararo-the Frenchman currently Mir’s closest challenger 15 points behind.