Australian Superbike racer ‘Mad’ Mike Jones has been confirmed as the replacement rider for Hector Barbera at Avintia Ducati MotoGP team at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. Barbera has been promoted to the Ducati factory team to replace injured Andrea Iannone, making way for a golden opportunity for the 22 year-old Brisbane local.
Jones will contest his maiden MotoGP following a year of contesting the ASBK series aboard the factory supported Desmosport Ducati Panigale, fishing fifth in the series as defending champion. Jones’ association with the Italian manufacturing giant and his crew chief, ex-MotoGP rider and triple WSBK Champion Troy Bayliss, appears to have paid dividends and resulted in this rare opportunity to mix it with the best riders in the world. Earlier this year Jones achieved a point scoring finish in Race 1 as a wildcard in the WorldSBK race at Phillip Island, and prior to that won several races at the iconic Victorian circuit on supersport and superbike machines in Australia’s National Championship.
The GP14 Desmosedici Jones will race in Japan is a lower specification to the factory GP16 Desmosedici machine that scored a race win in the hands of Iannone at Round 10 this season, but is still capable of racing toward the front of the field, and is by far the most powerful motorcycle Jones has raced thus far. It has been rumoured that former Aussie MotoGP star Casey Stoner, who now occupies a role as Ducati’s test rider, turned down the opportunity to fill in for Iannone, remaining true to his commitment to retire from racing in the premier class.
Grab the next issue of AMCN for all the inside information on Mike’s MotoGP weekend.