Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga will make his Grand Prix debut in Malaysia this weekend as a replacement for Jorge Lorenzo with the Spaniard recovering from his horrific finger injury sustained in Australia.
The 30 year old is a regular in the JSB1000 class in the All Japan Road Racing Championship as well as a YZR-M1 tester and has promised to give everything in helping the team to a strong result.
“I am sorry for Jorge's crash and feel bad for his injury. I am confident he will be back in action soon. Of course it is impossible to replace the 2010 World Champion but I will do my best to get a good result for Yamaha and the fans this weekend. This does not just mean a good position but actually also good feedback to help develop the new 1000cc machine for next year. Although next year's YZR-M1 is very different, I will try to get good ideas for next year and the future. I am a little nervous as a Yamaha Factory rider but luckily Sepang is a track I know pretty well. It's a 'stop & go' style track that I like very much. I will give 110% of my efforts to help Yamaha Factory Racing and to deserve the role of replacing of Jorge Lorenzo”.
Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg is mindful of the challenge facing Nakasuga this weekend but won't be putting too much pressure on the rookie.
“Our targets need to be adjusted for this round. Normally it would be the podium but that's not necessarily realistic for Sunday. We need to see how Nakasuga-san rides, we know his best lap time is 2'02.4 seconds here which is not so bad. This will be his first Grand Prix so it will be a new experience for him. There won't be much grip to start with after the rain here so we hope he will stay steady and remember we have four practices to go. He has all the freedom to push the bike to the limit; we want him to be comfortable to race and not to treat the weekend as just a test.”
In Lorenzo's absence, Ben Spies will be expected to lead the team although he is recovering from his own injury. Like his teammate, Spies missed last weekend's Australian GP after a crash in qualifying and admits he isn't fully recovered just yet.
“I like Sepang. It's a track we visit a lot because of the off-season testing so we know it quite well. Coming into the weekend I want to be able to put in a good result, especially for Yamaha Motor Indonesia/Semakin di Depan and Petronas which are our main sponsors. Unfortunately I'm definitely still recovering from Phillip Island, but I'm going to give it 100% as we always do. It's frustrating but it's been a bit of a year for bad luck. We'll do the best with what we've got and see what we can achieve.”