Valentino Rossi 'pushed' Yamaha to sign Jonas Folger as test rider
Valentino Rossi admits he “pushed” Yamaha to sign former Tech3 MotoGP rider Jonas Folger as the Japanese marque's test rider as he feels he can ride the M1 in a “similar way” to himself.
Yamaha confirmed earlier in the year it would be introducing a European test team for next year, with Folger – who has been absent from racing since October of last year due to illness – strongly linked to join the Iwata firm.
Folger's appointment as test rider was confirmed by Yamaha boss Massimo Meregalli during the Misano weekend, with the German present at the Aragon test prior to the San Marino event.
Speaking about Folger, Rossi says he “pushed” Meregalli to sign the German as his recent experience means he will be able to ride the M1 to the level of the current factory riders, which the Italian believes will crucially help Yamaha in developing its electronics.
“I'm very happy about the decision,” Rossi said. I pushed a lot with Massimo for Folger because, for me, Folger has a very good talent.
“But especially because he's a young rider and not an ex-rider. This means he can ride the M1 in a similar way to me and Maverick [Vinales] and he can do job, especially with the electronics, and that's important for Yamaha.”
Teammate Vinales echoed Rossi's comments, though concede he thinks Folger “should be racing” and not testing.
“It's great. Honestly, Jonas shouldn't be a test rider, because he has the level [of talent] to be racing here in MotoGP,” he said.
“Anyway, I think it's good for us, I think Jonas is a really good guy. So we're going to manage well, I know him already from the smaller categories.
“He has a good level, and already rode MotoGP really well.”
Folger was forced to pull out of his sophomore premier class campaign with Tech3 as he sought to fully recover from Gilbert's Syndrome, though tested for Kalex's 2019 Moto2 bike at Aragon earlier in the year.
In other test rider news, it is expected the retiring Dani Pedrosa will accept an offer to become one of KTM's official testers for 2019, having been linked with roles at the Austrian manufacturer and Honda