Yamaha test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga will step-in for the second race running as Jorge Lorenzo sits out the final race of the year. The outgoing world champion is still recovering from the finger injury sustained in Australia and will miss Sunday's race, although he will be in attendance, and it's uncertain whether he will ride in Monday's 1000cc test.
Due to the tragic accident involving Marco Simoncelli, Nakasuga was unable to complete his first Grand Prix in Malaysia but the Japanese rider is honoured to be given a second opportunity.
“It was a great honour to be chosen to ride for Jorge at Sepang and here at Valencia. Due to the tragic loss of Marco Simoncelli in Malaysia the race was cancelled. This weekend the track will be new for me but I will try as hard as I can to deliver good results.”
Ben Spies will return to action on the second factory YZR-M1 after missing the race in Sepang through injury. Instead, Spies was commentating for the MotoGP world feed when Simoncelli's accident took place and the American is still coming to terms with the tragedy ahead of his racing return.
“I can't believe I won't be battling Marco on the track this weekend, it's an incredibly sad way to finish the season. I'm going to honour him in the best way I know how, on the track. As with last year I arrive in Valencia recovering from injuries, but will of course give 100% of my efforts into performing to the best of my ability.”
Team Director Massimo Meregalli admits it will be a tough weekend in every respect but hopes to honour Simoncelli with a good team performance. Yamaha will also mark the 50th anniversary of their Grand Prix debut by racing in their red and white commemorative livery for the final time.
“This is going to be a difficult and challenging weekend for many reasons. Everyone is affected by the sad passing of Marco Simoncelli. This last race of the season would usually be marked by a party to celebrate our year but this is not now in keeping with the mood and feeling of the team. As such we will wrap up with our yearly technical presentation and a quiet team dinner. We have Nakasuga-san with us having to learn the Valencia circuit for the first time, and Ben still not 100% after his crash in Australia. Despite this we will give our maximum effort to mark the final race of our 50th anniversary year and to honour the memory of Marco Simoncelli.”