American racing fans will see a familiar face on the MotoGP grid this weekend, at the Dutch TT in Assen, as Garrett Gerloff will be filling in for Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad.
Making waves already in the WorldSBK paddock, Gerloff’s race debut in the MotoGP Championship could be a sort of audition for the 25-year-old, showing off his skills for the grand prix paddock for the first time.
Gerloff isn’t a complete stranger to the MotoGP paddock though, as he filled in for Valentino Rossi at last year’s European GP during the Friday practice sessions.
The event also has the dubious distinction of being the first time an American has been on the MotoGP starting grid, since Nicky Hayden’s race start at the Australian GP in 2016, when he filled in for the injured Dani Pedrosa.
Reports indicate that Toprak Razgatlioglu was initially offered this weekend’s MotoGP ride, but with the Turkish rider just 20 points behind WorldSBK leader Jonathan Rea, the factory WSBK rider opted to keep his focus on his World Superbike racing program.
Toprak’s loss is Garrett’s gain, and we wish him the best this weekend on the Yamaha YZR-M1.
“I’m excited for the opportunity ahead, I’m not someone who runs away from a challenge, so I’m ready to get to the track,” explained Gerloff. “It’ll be a new circuit for me, I like trying new tracks, it looks fun, fast and flowing, and really suits my riding style.”
“I’m looking forward to jumping on the Yamaha M1 again and twisting the throttle. We’ll see how things go, but I feel good and would like to thank Yamaha and the team for considering me. It won’t be easy, but I’m going to give it my best shot!”