News 13 Oct 2016

ASBK front-runner Jones to contest Japanese MotoGP

DesmoSport Ducati rider lands last-minute Avintia Racing seat.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Last year’s Australian Superbike Champion Mike Jones will make a shock start in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi, replacing Hector Barbera on the Avintia Racing Ducati team.

Barbera has been called in to ride injured Italian Andrea Iannone’s factory Ducati Team Desmosedici GP16, making way for Jones to make his 11th-hour premier class grand prix debut alongside Loris Baz.

Jones recently finished fifth in the 2016 ASBK standings following a promising first season with a 50 percent podium strike-rate aboard the factory-supported DesmoSport Ducati Panigale 1299 S, co-owned by three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss and Ben Henry.

Earlier this year he made a high-profile WorldSBK wildcard at Phillip Island in what was his first appearance with the newly-formed Ducati outfit, finishing inside the points for 14th in race one, before crashing out of the second encounter.

The 22-year-old Jones will make his MotoGP debut riding the GP14.2 entry of Barbera, the Spaniard who has had a strong season to date, sitting 10th in the championship with fifth-place finishes in Argentina and Czech Republic.

Prior to wearing the number one plate in this year’s ASBK series, Jones has made number 46 his own in Australian domestic racing, but will instead use the number seven in Japan during his maiden grand prix.

The move was orchestrated by Ducati legend Bayliss, who contacted Jones in the late hours of last night to notify him that he’d been called in for Motegi. He caught a 6:00am flight from Melbourne after testing at Phillip Island to Brisbane and then onto Tokyo for the weekend.

Jones is due to make his first laps aboard the Avintia Racing Ducati Desmosedici GP14.2 during the 45-minute Free Practice 1 at 11:55am local time. It will also mark his initial outing on the unique Michelin control tyres introduced this season.