Cal Crutchlow will return to where his MotoGP career started to see out his remaining time in the premier class, with official confirmation that the 35-year-old will join Yamaha as official test rider for their MotoGP efforts in 2021.
Yamaha’s announcement also made clear that its three-time champion rider Jorge Lorenzo will not continue in his test role next year.
Crutchlow’s deal means he will ride at all of the official MotoGP tests as well as a number of private tests.
It also doesn’t rule out the chance of him making it to the grid next year, with Yamaha confirming that wildcard appearances may well be a part of the arrangement.
He will also become the team’s go-to stand-in rider should it need to replace an injured racer (or, as has been the case in 2020, one who has tested positive for COVID-19), and is believed to be planning to attend a number of races as a spotter and analyst for Yamaha’s quartet of MotoGP riders.
Winning the World Supersport title for Yamaha in 2009 (pictured above) in a team managed by current Petronas Yamaha team manager Wilco Zeelenberg, Crutchlow graduated to World Superbikes with the firm in 2010, winning three races before jumping into the Tech3 team in MotoGP.
Yamaha’s motor racing chief Lin Jarvis called Crutchlow’s deal something of a homecoming, and said the team was delighted to have him back.
“First and foremost I would like to say ‘welcome back’ to Cal,” said Jarvis in a Yamaha statement.
“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 [pictured below] 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.”
He also confirmed that Lorenzo’s triumphant return to the team has come to an ignominious end, after only two days of on-track action together.
“Of course, we had planned and hoped for a strong programme this year with Jorge, siad Jarvis.
“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 realise our goals.
“We wish Jorge all the best in his future endeavours, and we thank him for his many years of collaboration with Yamaha.”