Pedrosa will miss at least three races due to his injury but the triple world champion is confident of being fit to race at the Italian Grand Prix in July. Repsol Honda have been racing with just two bikes since the injury and with Marco Simoncelli the cause of Pedrosa’s injury there was little doubt that HRC would eventually promote Aoyama to the factory squad.
The Japanese rider, the last 250cc champion, will race in Repsol colours alongside Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso. It will be interesting to see how Aoyama adjusts to life aboard the factory machine and his performance could have a lasting influence on Honda’s future MotoGP plans.
With Dovizioso’s contract due to expire after this season it is crucial that the Italian can show Honda that he will still merit a place as a factory rider for 2012. Aoyama on the other hand will be eager to once again prove his worth to the Japanese manufacturer.
With both riders knowing their status as factory riders for next year could hinge on their performances this weekend it is clear that the internal struggle at Repsol Honda will be one of the main storylines this weekend.
Aoyama will be replaced by the current Japanese Superbike champion, Kousuke Akiyoshi, who has raced in MotoGP for Suzuki and Honda, ironically as a replacement rider for Aoyama.