Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS will field two former intermediate class World Champions at the Japanese Grand Prix, with HRC test and development rider Hiroshi Aoyama joining Tito Rabat in the team as a replacement for the injured Jack Miller.
Aoyama and Rabat's intermediate class successes span two eras. Aoyama was crowned World Champion in 2009, the final year of the 250cc two-stroke machines, whereas Rabat's 2014 World Championship win came on 600cc four-stroke Moto2 machinery.
Aoyama has extensive MotoGP experience, having raced four full seasons since making his debut in the premier class back in 2010. Since 2015 the 35-year-old Japanese rider has been an HRC test rider and heavily involved in the development of the Honda RC213V he'll race this weekend in Motegi.
Rabat heads to Motegi this weekend determined to build on his points scoring finish last time out in Aragon. The Spaniard has stood on the podium at Japan twice in the intermediate class and is confident that he and his crew can quickly find a working set up for the demanding nature of the Motegi circuit, which features more heavy braking areas than any other circuit on the MotoGP calendar.
"Firstly I want to wish Jack a speedy recovery and I hope he will be fit to race in his home Grand Prix at Phillip Island. It’s never nice to replace an injured rider but I hope that I can do a good job for both Jack and the team in Motegi. I also want to thank Michael Bartholemy and Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for giving me the opportunity to race once again in front of the Japanese fans. I have not raced yet this season, so it will take some time to get back the feeling. The fact that I already know a lot of the crew, having worked with them in the past, will help a lot, as will having a rider with Tito’s experience on the other side of the box. I am looking forward to the weekend ahead!”
"Given our situation I'm fairly satisfied with the last three races, especially Aragon where I finished closer to the winner despite a difficult weekend. Now we head to the three flyaway races, my favourite part of the season, and our goal is clear; to do the best job we can and to pick up as many points as possible. Motegi is a tricky circuit with a lot of heavy braking, but I'm confident that together with my crew we can quickly find a good set up and push for a good qualifying position, which is so important on such a stop and go track layout."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Firstly I'd like to say a big thank you to Hiroshi for stepping in at the last minute to replace Jack in Motegi and to HRC for arranging everything at such short notice. I am looking forward to welcoming Hiroshi into the team this weekend. It won't be completely new for him, as he's worked with many of our technical staff previously, so we start already from a good position. I am sure he will do a good job for us this weekend and I hope he enjoys this opportunity to race once again in front of his home crowd. Tito's feeling with the bike, especially the front end, has improved significantly this season and that will be critical this weekend at Motegi, where the emphasis is very much on heavy braking."
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