Top Brit lands two-year fac­tory con­tract, but will stay with LCR team

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Cal Crutchlow will re­main in Mo­togp for the 2018 and 2019 sea­sons af­ter sign­ing a two-year ex­ten­sion to his con­tract ahead of this week­end’s eighth round of the 2017 sea­son at Assen.

The con­tract will be a step up from his cur­rent LCR Honda deal that the dou­ble race win­ner has en­joyed for the past three sea­sons. He is now el­e­vated to fac­tory rider sta­tus and will be sup­ported di­rectly by Honda Rac­ing Cor­po­ra­tion in Ja­pan as a re­ward for both his 2016 suc­cesses and his con­tin­u­ing work in help­ing de­velop the RC213V ma­chine.

Crutchlow has been an in­te­gral part of HRC’S devel­op­ment for the past 18 months as both he and the fac­tory Rep­sol Honda duo of Marc Mar­quez and Dani Pedrosa strug­gled to turn the dif­fi­cult-to-ride ma­chine back into the com­pet­i­tive race win­ner of the past.

And with that hard work, days of test­ing and ex­ten­sive feed­back from the 31-year-old has come just re­ward – some­thing that he’s been clam­our­ing for since tak­ing a stun­ning dry win at the Aus­tralian Grand Prix last Oc­to­ber.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to MCN ahead of the news be­ing an­nounced, Crutchlow said: “I think the fac­tory deal has come about be­cause out of the three years that I’ve had with Honda. I’ve been the only one able to get re­sults for them apart from Marc and Dani. That, along with my ex­pe­ri­ence of rid­ing for two other man­u­fac­tur­ers has helped. Marc, Dani, Jack and Tito have only ever rid­den Hon­das, and I think that my ex­pe­ri­ence there and how to im-

prove the bike is im­por­tant to them.

“But re­sults also speak, and I’ve had some great re­sults over the years. Don’t get me wrong – I could have had more, and there’s some I missed, but you’ve got to get re­sults. I’ve been for­tu­nate to be re­warded for those re­sults now.”

The deal should also see fur­ther sup­port com­ing his way as he con­tin­ues in his role as a key part of the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer’s devel­op­ment work on the bike. Al­ready in a po­si­tion where he’s now re­ceiv­ing com­po­nents be­fore or along­side the fac­tory rid­ers, he’s hop­ing that their in­te­gra­tion into HRC’S mas­ter­plan means they can only get stronger as a whole in the fu­ture.

“We do so much test­ing and this year we’ve al­ready done loads. And at the tests, I nor­mally al­ways test new items or eval­u­ate things a bit quicker than the oth­ers, be­cause of my ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s good for me, it’s good for my team, and it shows how much sup­port HRC give to the satel­lite teams.”

And while the deal will likely see him re­main with the LCR squad for 2017, the na­ture of his new con­tract also opens up the pos­si­bil­ity of even big­ger and bet­ter things in the fu­ture, if one of Honda’s fac­tory rid­ers chooses to leave the squad when their con­tracts ex­pire at the end of the 2018 sea­son.

Al­ready linked with a move to the Rep­sol Honda squad for this year if Dani Pedrosa had ac­cepted a po­si­tion pro­vi­sion­ally of­fered to him at the Mo­vis­tar Yamaha squad, Crutchlow says that it isn’t be­yond the realms of pos­si­bil­ity that he could end up on the orange machines in the fu­ture.

“I’m fully fo­cused on rid­ing for LCR and do­ing my job for the rest of this year and for next year. I do have a deal that is an HRC agree­ment though, and I’m sure that if I was per­form­ing well at the time and some­thing strange hap­pened maybe I would slot in there. But it’s not why I signed the con­tract.

“I haven’t signed it to go to the fac­tory team – I signed it be­cause I’m happy where I am and be­cause I’m get­ting re­sults. I did well last year and there’s no rea­son why I can’t again this year.”

‘I’ve had some great re­sults and I’ve been re­warded for those now’ CAL CRUTCHLOW

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