British rider Cal Crutchlow will replace Italian Franco Morbidelli, who had left knee surgery at the end of June, for the next three races of the MotoGP world championship, the Yamaha’s satellite Petronas team announced on Wednesday.
Morbidelli, 26, currently 13th in the world championship after nine events, is recovering from knee surgery on June 25.
He has been ruled out of the Styria GP on August 8 and the Austrian GP a week later, both raced on the Spielberg circuit. Nor will he be fit for the British GP at Silverstone on August 29.
Crutchlow, 35, who retired from Moto GP with three victories to his name at the end of last season, is no stranger to Yamaha, having started with the Japanese marque in 2011.
He spent three seasons with Yamaha and is now the official factory test and development rider.
“After looking at all the options, it was a collective decision between Yamaha and ourselves to ask Cal Crutchlow to fill in for Franco, while he recovers from surgery,” said Razlan Razali, Yamaha-Petronas team boss in a statement.
“Cal is a credible and experienced rider, who is currently a test rider for Yamaha. As an independent team, this is where we can really step up to help Yamaha.”
The other Yamaha-Petronas rider in MotoGP this season is the seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, now in the twilight of his career at the age of 42.
Frenchman Fabio Quartararo, who races for the Yamaha factory team this season after making his debut three years ago with Yamaha-Petronas, currently leads the championship standings.