Van der Mark: Rossi U-turn reduces pressure ahead of MotoGP debut

Michael van der Mark says Valentino Rossi's late decision to ride injured at Aragon last month has taken the pressure off for his MotoGP debut in Sepang this weekend

Van der Mark: Rossi U-turn reduces pressure ahead of MotoGP debut

Yamaha World Superbike regular van der Mark will make his MotoGP bow this weekend standing in for the unwell Jonas Folger at the satellite Tech 3 team.

He takes the seat occupied by Kohta Nozane and Broc Parkes at Motegi and Phillip Island respectively.

It follows the Dutchman's abortive debut in Aragon, where he had been teed up to stand in for Rossi at the factory team, only for the Italian to be passed fit to ride with a broken leg.

Asked if the situation in Malaysia felt different to Aragon, he said: "Yeah, a little bit, because it's not Valentino's bike.

"But at the end it's still a MotoGP bike, it's a really good one as well.

"Everything is still new, still really excited and a little bit nervous, because I don't know what to expect.

"There's not a lot of pressure, it's just an amazing opportunity for me to finally get this ride."

Van der Mark will not be setting himself any concrete targets for the weekend.

"For me the main thing is to improve every session, and that we make a lot of progress by Sunday," he said.

"This is what I hope to do and the only thing I can expect.

"If I set a goal now I could be disappointed. I just need to go in straight, learn every session.

"That's the only thing we can do now, because I never rode this bike, [Michelin] tyres or [carbon] brakes.

"There's a lot to learn and a lot to improve."

In addition to his usual WSBK commitments, van der Mark also competed in the Suzuka 8 Hours for Yamaha, taking victory alongside Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

He also contested a one-off All-Japan Superbike event at Autopolis in place of the absent Nozane.

With both the Suzuka and JSB variants of the R1 using Bridgestone tyres, as opposed to Pirellis in WSBK, van der Mark reckons his experience of switching bikes this season will help him adapt to the Michelin-shod M1 quickly this weekend.

"This year I rode many different bikes," he said. "I think it will help me.

"Sometimes it's good to change many bikes during the season, sometimes not so good.

"But this year I gained so much experience, which we transferred into Superbike."

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