Australian Chris Vermeulen, the former MotoGP and World Superbike rider whose lone MotoGP win came in the wet 2007 French Grand Prix at Le Mans, will replace the injured Colin Edwards on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW when the MotoGP World Championship returns to France.
Edwards shattered his left collarbone when he was knocked down by the Power Electronics Aspar ART of Randy de Puniet, who’d crashed in turn four during qualifying for last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix. The Texan had surgery to to plate and screw the collarbone in Barcelona on Monday and flew home to Conroe earlier today. He’ll miss the French race, returning the first weekend in June for the Catalunya Grand Prix. From his hospital bed, Edwards tweeted a request for fans to weigh in on who should replace him. Two of the names that came up were Vermeulen and Leon Haslam, the BMW Motorrad World Superbike rider.
“So if u had a choice: Leon Haslam or Chris Vermeulen to ride my bike in LeMans?” Edwards tweeted on Tuesday. Twelve hours later he tweeted, “So who’s it gonna be on the Forward NGM MotoGP bike at LeMans? Tweet votes were close to 50/50….let’s see what the Boss decides today ;).”
The decision went to Vermeulen, who was injured for much of the past two years of his World Superbike career. Vermeulen suffered severe injuries to his right knee when he hit a tire wall in the second leg of the 2010 Phillip Island season-opener at over 120 mph. The knee never full healed and he’s struggled to be fit ever since. In qualifying for last season’s Brno WSB round, he re-aggravated the knee and also suffered elbow injuries. Vermeulen didn’t race again, finishing the season in 21st place with points-paying finishes in only four of eight rounds. He made a comeback during a two-day September test in Misano, but was 3.4 secs. off the pace on the first day and sat out the second day.
Today on Twitter, he wrote, “Happy to confirm I will be on the forward racing motoGP bike at Le Mans. forward-racing.com/… Wishing @texastornado5 a quick recovery”
In a statement from the team, he said, “First of all I would like to wish Colin a speedy recovery,” Vermeulen said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to race back in MotoGP with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team. I am looking forward to my first time on the bike being at Le Mans, a circuit that holds great memories for me including a victory in 2007. I am excited to be racing at the top level of motorcycling again and look forward to working with the team.”