French team, Tech 3 Yamaha has announced that MotoGP rider Jonas Folger will not return to the team in 2018. The German was forced to miss the final four rounds of the 2017 season, as well as post-season testing, after being diagnosed with ‘Gilbert’s syndrome’. Gilbert’s Syndrome is a genetic ailment that affects a person’s liver, and has rendered him bedridden.
Initially, the 24-year old was expected be back to full strength by Christmas. However, the team has issued a statement saying that Folger will be unable to return in 2018 as he seeks a solution to his health issues.
Folger said, “I’m incredibly sad to be saying this, but I will not be racing MotoGP in 2018. I wasn’t able to make the improvements I was hoping for, and at this stage I don’t feel able to ride a MotoGP machine at 100 percent. I hope to be back one day and want to thank you all for your ongoing support.”
Folger’s absence leaves Tech 3 scrambling to find a replacement, with Poncharal adding the news was “hard to swallow”. Poncharal said, “It is still very difficult for me to believe, that he’s not going to race with us in 2018, especially because he has been somebody I had lot of faith in and I was sure we would reach top level together this year. I completely respect his decision, although it’s hard to swallow. Yet, I will try to find a solution for a replacement rider, which is a very difficult mission, as all of the fast riders are already contracted.”
Jonas Folger is a race winner in 125cc/Moto3 and Moto2, he graduated to the premier class at the start of 2017. He partnered fellow rookie Johann Zarco at the satellite Yamaha Tech 3 squad. He scored a best finish of second place at his home round at the Sachsenring, where he narrowly missed out on victory to Marc Marquez.
He was substituted at the Tech 3 team by Kohta Nozane in Motegi and Broc Parkes in Phillip Island. Yamaha World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark raced in his stead for the final two rounds in Sepang and Valencia. Despite missing those races, Folger still ended up 10th in the championship on 84 points.