The news was all but confirmed by Crutchlow yesterday (Thursday) but today’s announcement adds details such as Crutchlow first outing in his new role at the Sepang Shakedown Test from February 14-16, followed by ‘Official IRTA Tests and other private Yamaha tests… Crutchlow‘s 10 years of experience in MotoGP, riding for three different manufacturers, make him the ideal rider for the job’.
The Englishman, 35, will thus bring his full-time grand prix career to a close at Portimao next weekend, but may yet race again in MotoGP:
‘A Wild Card appearance is possible if deemed beneficial to the testing programme, and Crutchlow has also confirmed his availability for selection as replacement rider in the unfortunate case where one of Yamaha‘s MotoGP riders might be forced to miss a Grand Prix through illness or injury,’ added the Yamaha statement.
Crutchlow won the 2009 World Supersport title with Yamaha then three World Superbike races to net a MotoGP seat with Tech3 Yamaha for 2011. He remained on an M1 with Herve Poncharal’s team for three seasons, claiming six podiums, before a single year at the factory Ducati team brought one further rostrum.
But the #35’s greatest success has been with LCR Honda. Joining Lucio Cecchinelli’s satellite team in 2015 and soon being upgraded to a full HRC contract, Crutchlow has gone on to celebrate three wins and 12 podiums while assisting Honda with RCV development.
“Well, first and foremost I would like to say ‘welcome back’ to Cal,” said Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis.
“I still remember Cal‘s first visit to YMR many years ago as fresh World Supersport Champion and recall he expressed his desire to move onwards and upwards to MotoGP in the future.
“After the initial move to Superbikes, he then spent three seasons with us in the Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3 team before moving on to gain a further seven years of experience with two of our main competitors.
“This wealth of experience, coupled with Cal‘s honest no-nonsense approach, will surely benefit us greatly as we strive to improve our YZR-M1 bikes with a full testing programme next year.
“Of course, we had planned and hoped for a strong programme this year with Jorge. Unfortunately, our Factory Test Team soon had to put their plans on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic started and continued to influence 2020 from March onwards.
“It‘s regrettable that we have not been able to carry out our testing programme and realize our goals. We wish Jorge all the best in his future endeavours, and we thank him for his many years of collaboration with Yamaha.”
Five-time world champion Lorenzo – who only took part in two tests for Yamaha this season, both on year-old machinery – has been linked with a testing role for Aprilia.