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Abe replaces Melandri at Fortuna Yamaha

Abe replaces Melandri at Fortuna Yamaha

Abe replaces Melandri at Fortuna Yamaha

Fortuna Yamaha have acted quickly to replace the injured Marco Melandri by calling on Norick Abe, originally registered to ride here as a wildcard. Melandri sustained a double fracture of his right ankle and chipped his femur in a high-speed fall yesterday during the first practice session at Suzuka and is currently under observation at the Mie General Medical Centre near Yokkaichi, a thirty-minute drive from the circuit.

Abe, currently testing a prototype version of the M1 featuring a different chassis, engine position and twin-shock suspension, was allowed to ride under the team´s name thanks to rules introduced last year which permit the team to nominate a replacement rider before noon on Saturday and allow Yamaha to withdraw their wildcard entry. However, the former two-time Japanese GP winner, will not be able to replicate the full Fortuna Yamaha livery since the test machine he will continue to ride uses different bodywork to the M1s of Melandri and Carlos Checa.

$$$ `The decision to replace Marco immediately means that we stand to gain points in the new Teams´ World Championship and it also seems correct that Yamaha´s wholly-owned factory team should field two riders in the company´s home Grand Prix,´ said Fortuna Yamaha Team director Davide Brivio. `It may look a little strange that he will ride in different leathers and livery to Carlos, but we feel that this is the most sensible solution. He has more experience with Yamaha´s test bike than the 2003 race-spec M1.´

Meanwhile the team has established an e-mail address for anybody wishing to send `get well´ messages to Melandri, which will be passed on to the rider at his hospital bed. The address is:

MotoGP, 2003, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan, Marco Melandri

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