Yamaha will keep Valentino Rossi's place open for the next two races before calling up a stand-in for their injured MotoGP champion. Team manager Davide Brivio said yesterday that there was no rush to replace the charismatic Italian, who is likely to miss most of the rest of the season after breaking his leg in practice for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.
"We will probably miss the next couple of races because that is allowed under the regulations and then if, as I think, Valentino stays out for longer then we have to find a replacement," said Brivio. "It's very strange to speak about Valentino's replacement," he added. "But we will try to find the best solution we can."
Rossi, 31 and a nine-times world champion in all categories, is expected to be out for between four and five months. Under MotoGP regulations, a team must replace an injured rider after two races without him. The season ends in Valencia, Spain, on 7 November.
Rossi's team-mate, Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who is the championship leader and has proved to be Rossi's toughest opponent this season, will therefore be Yamaha's sole rider at Silverstone next week and at Assen in the Netherlands on 26 June.
Brivio said that the choice of replacement was not obvious, with the team's test riders unsuitable and American superbike world champion Ben Spies under contract to the rival Tech3 Yamaha team.
"If it were up to Yamaha to decide alone, we would not enlist anyone to take his [Rossi's] place from now to the end of the championship," added Brivio.