Yamaha's substitute rider Wataru Yoshikawa says he is "honored" to stand in for Valentino Rossi but is regarding his three-race stint in the factory race seat primarily as a data-gathering exercise.
The 41-year-old Japanese rider has been part of Yamaha's development program for most of the past decade and only has a handful of top-level MotoGP and World Superbike starts to his name, although he won two Japanese Superbike titles in the 1990s.
He was given the works Yamaha MotoGP chance after other Yamaha-contracted riders – such as Tech 3's Ben Spies and Superbike star Cal Crutchlow – expressed misgivings about being temporarily thrust into Rossi's seat without adequate preparation.
Yamaha has said from the outset that it believes giving Yoshikawa some race experience will boost his development work, as well as fulfilling its contractual obligation to field a second bike, and Yoshikawa said he would take a testing mindset into his races.
"I am very honored to be riding in place of Valentino, and I'm also very happy to come into this competition," he said during his first press briefing at Assen, which was conducted via an interpreter. "I want to do my best first of all, and also I want to improve the M1. During these races I want to collect as much real data as I can. Of course, this has been my dream since I was a child, but at the same time, I will do my best at my job."
He acknowledged that he was significantly older than most of the riders and had a very different background, but was open-minded about how he would fare.
"In a way, it's going to be like riding with my son!" Yoshikawa joked. "But I think I can still get a lot from this race and I want to think positively."
Yoshikawa is currently slated to ride for Yamaha at Catalunya, the Sachsenring and Laguna Seca, with Rossi hoping to be fit to return for Brno.