Loris Capirossi’s career will conclude with the 2011 MotoGP Championship, the Italian only having four races left to ride professionally.
But after re-injuring his right shoulder at Aragon MotoGP two weeks ago, the 38-year-old Italian will be forced to miss the first of those four races – this weekend’s Japanese GP at Motegi.
Knowing a week in advance that Capirossi would not be starting, Pramac Racing Ducati was expected to field a substitute rider. And this expectation proved true, as the team reported that the Australian Damian Cudlin would ride in Capirossi’s place at Motegi.
Cudlin, who will be teammates with Pramac Racing Ducati’s Randy de Puniet at Motegi, is a 29-year-old World Endurance Championship veteran, and has one GP start under his leathers; last year, Cudlin competed in Moto2 at the Germany GP, starting from 22nd on the grid to finish an impressive seventh. He has also tested the 2012 BMW-powered Suter CRT Moto2 machine.
Damian Cudlin says: “It’s hard to put into words what this opportunity means to me. I’ve dreamed about starting in MotoGP since I was a boy, and until now it’s be en just that- a dream. Now it’s become a reality and to be honest, I’m still in shock!
“I’m under no illusions about how difficult this race will be. I’ve never ridden a real MotoGP bike before and I’ve never been to Motegi either, so realistically my expectations can’t be too high. I just want to do the best job I can, enjoy the experience, and just see what happens. I’ve really got nothing to lose, so why not?
“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this. I still can’t believe I’ll be replacing Loris Capirossi – I had posters of him on my wall as a kid!
“I just want to thank Sito Pons for recommending me, the Pramac Racing Team for giving me a chance, and also my current BMW Team for allowing me to use this opportunity. I hope I can make everyone proud that they took a chance with a guy like me.”
As for Capirossi, he hopes to return for the final three races (Australia, Malaysia, Valencia). Earlier this month, Capirossi reported he’d be retiring after the 2011 MotoGP season concludes. If he would have started at Motegi MotoGP, it would have been his 327th GP start since 1990.