Yamaha have announced that Jorge Lorenzo is to be replaced at the Sepang round of MotoGP, a decision that came when it became apparent that the 2010 World Champion would not be able to race in Malaysia. Lorenzo's replacement is to be Katsuyuki Nakasuga, a test rider for the Japanese factory and currently competiing the Japanese Superbike class, where his 3rd in the championship.
Two factors contributed to the decision to field a test rider. First and foremost, with Yamaha's World Superbike team disbanded now the 2011 WSBK season is at an end, and Yamaha Europe having pulled the plug on the team, Yamaha had no riders under contract capable of riding their M1 MotoGP machine. The obvious candidate would have been Marco Melandri, but Melandri was already under contract to BMW. World Supersport champion Chaz Davies would have been another option, as the Welshman has had experience on the Bridgestone tires, but Davies, too, is bound for another brand, to race a Ducati in World Superbikes for the ParkinGO team.
Secondly, and probably more importantly, a test is scheduled for Yamaha on the Monday following the MotoGP race. With Lorenzo missing, having a test rider - someone who already has experience of the 1000cc bike and has been working to develop the machine - to take his place was key to the decision.
Below is the press release from Yamaha announcing Lorenzo's replacement:
Katsuyuki Nakasuga to Replace Jorge Lorenzo for Malaysian Grand Prix
Yamaha YZR-M1 test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga has been drafted in to replace injured Yamaha Factory Racing star Jorge Lorenzo for this weekend's Grand Prix of Malaysia.
Reigning World Champion Lorenzo received an injury to the ring finger of his left hand during the Sunday morning warm up session prior to the Grand Prix of Australia. He has since received surgical treatment and is now recovering at home in Barcelona.
30yr old Nakasuga-san is a current Japanese Yamaha test rider with an excellent working knowledge of the YZR-M1 and Bridgestone tyres. He is also competing in the 2011 All Japan Road Racing Championship, JSB1000 class, and is currently third in the standings.
A decision on Jorge Lorenzo's participation in the final race of the season at the Grand Prix of Valencia will be made within the next two weeks.
Name: Katsuyuki Nakasuga
Date of birth: 9/08/1981
Place of birth: Fukuoka
Team: YSP Racing Team with TRC (current ranking 3rd - Series not yet complete)
Championship series: All Japan Road Racing Championship, JSB1000 Class
- 2000/2004: All Japan RR GP250 class (best ranking 5th)
- 2005/present: All Japan RR JSB1000 class (2008/2009 Champion, 4th in 2010