Suzuki superbike rider Kazuki Watanabe has been selected by the Japanese squad to deputise for the injured Joan Mir in next weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix.
Mir is currently undergoing a medically-enforced 15 day rest period after fracturing his ankle in a nasty high-side crash in last weekend’s Austrian GP, with MRI and CT scans undertaken on the Monday after his crash leading doctors to recommend Mir rest to give himself the best possible chance of recovering swiftly.
With the 15-day rest time meaning he will have to forfeit the upcoming San Marino GP, and with chief European test rider Sylvain Guintoli also out of action with an injured wrist, Suzuki has decided to call up Watanabe – who stood in for the Frenchman in the Suzuki 8 Hours earlier this month – to take Mir’s place at Misano.
Watanabe – whose main programme with Suzuki is in the Japan’s main regional superbike series – says he was “really pleased” to receive the call to step in for the 2020 premier class world champion, enthusing that it will be “amazing” to try a GSX-RR around Misano.
“First things first, I would like to wish Joan a speedy recovery from the injury he suffered, he’s a great rider to watch and I hope he’ll be back on track soon,” said Watanabe.
“I was really pleased to receive the call about substituting in Misano, it will be amazing to try the MotoGP bike around that track.
“I will do my best to perform well and give something back to the team who have given me this chance.”
It will mark Watanabe’s premier class debut at the age of 31, the Japanese rider having previously contested a smattering of intermediate class grands prix across 2009 and 2010, his best ever result of 14th coming in his home event at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in ’09.
He currently acts as Suzuki’s reserve rider in the Endurance World Championship – taking third in the Suzuki 8 Hours as the substitute for the injured Guintoli – alongside his All Japan Road Race Championship commitments, where he currently sits third overall.