Jake Zemke To Substitute For Elias At Laguna Seca?

The redoubtable Italian site GPOne.com is reporting that American Honda has received an e-mail request from Honda Europe inquiring about the possibility of Jake Zemke taking Toni Elias' place on the Gresini Honda for the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Zemke is currently riding a CBR1000RR for American Honda in AMA Superbike, and is in 3rd place in that championship. That is better than it sounds, as Zemke is the first rider behind the tediously dominant Yoshimura Suzuki pair of Ben Spies and Mat Mladin, whose bikes are basically a second a lap quicker at ever track the AMA visits.

Although the deal to put Zemke on the Gresini bike would make a good deal of sense from a sponsorship point of view, with Gresini able to help promote his main sponsor Hannspree with a local rider, it would not be a long-term substitution, as Zemke is relatively unknown outside of the US. At 32, he is also a little old to be switching series.

Having Zemke take Elias' place would point to Gresini believing that Elias will be back by Brno. Under the current FIM rules, a team is allowed to turn up at one race after a rider was injured without a replacement, but if the injured rider is going to be out for more than one race, they must field a substitute. This would allow Gresini to run just Marco Melandri at the Sachsenring, then add Jake Zemke as a temporary replacement at Laguna Seca, giving Toni Elias 7 weeks to recover enough fitness to compete at Brno on August 19th. If Elias is not yet fit enough for Brno, then another substitute could be drafted in for that race, giving the Spanish fan favorite an extra two weeks to recover.

But with the Sachsenring 2 weeks from now, and Laguna another week after that, everything is still possible, and the rumors will undoubtedly continue to fly.

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