Preparations for next year are starting to get into gear, with testing for 2011 already underway. After wrapping up his World Superbike season, Cal Crutchlow got his first outing on Yamaha's MotoGP bike at the Fukuroi test track in Japan, as he got ready to move into the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad for 2011. The elements did not look kindly on Crutchlow, however, most of the test taking place in the wet, though the young Briton also got a few laps in under relatively dry conditions. Crutchlow will be hoping for better conditions at Valencia, for the first official outing on the Yamaha M1. He will not be alone, as the Valencia post-race test will also see Valentino Rossi's first outing on the Ducati and Casey Stoner's first test on the Honda.
The question of who would be partnering Cal Crutchlow at Herve Poncharal's Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad next season has been exercising several minds, not least that of Poncharal himself. As was demonstrated so vividly during the search for a replacement for Valentino Rossi during his absence through injury, there are worryingly few candidates to come into MotoGP and be competitive quickly. With Cal Crutchlow joining the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2011 as a rookie from World Superbikes, having someone who knows both the tracks and preferably the bikes is imperative for Poncharal's team.
Since Cal Crutchlow announced that he will be moving to MotoGP for 2011, to race with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, the old question of whether World Superbike riders can be fast on a MotoGP bike has raised its head. Ben Spies has certainly shown that he has been capable of being competitive since switching to MotoGP, but many people believe that this is down to Spies' exceptional talent, which he so clearly demonstrated by winning the World Superbike title at his first attempt, racing on tracks he had never seen before.
The comparisons with Spies are inevitable, as Crutchlow struggles on the bike that Spies was so dominant on, with both fans and parts of the media voicing their belief that Crutchlow has not yet shown that he deserves a shot in MotoGP. Crutchlow's former manager, and the man who helped him win the World Supersport title at his first attempt, disagrees.
Moderator: Good morning, everybody. I'm John Gardner, the media manager for Miller Motorsports Park, and we're back for another teleconference with the riders in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship. Today we're pleased to have with us Cal Crutchlow, who rides the No. 35 Yamaha YZF R1 for the Yamaha Sterilgarda team. Cal, of course, won both ends of his home race in Silverstone last month, he's been on the podium seven times this season and has five poles. In 2009, he was the World Supersport Champion before graduating to the Yamaha World Superbike team this year. He is currently fifth in the championship with 217 points behind Max Biaggi with 397, Leon Haslam with 339, Jonathan Rea with 288 and Carlos Checa with 224 heading into the penultimate race of the season at Imola on the 26th of this month. As you all probably know, Cal has been chosen to move up to the Monster Energy Tech 3 MotoGP Team for next year, so we have quite a bit to talk about. Cal, welcome and we thank you for being here with us today.
Cal Crutchlow: Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me along.
Moderator: So here we are. We've got two rounds left to go in the season, four races total. You are fifth and you're just about seven points behind Checa. What are your objectives for the remainder of this season?
Cal Crutchlow: Well, I suppose I always said moving into World Superbike was going to be difficult, so to finish in the top six this year was my plan. And I exceeded my expectation and in the standings am fifth, and actually shaved seven points off fourth. I hope to grab that fourth in the championship I suppose in the last four races. It's going to be difficult. Carlos Checa is a MotoGP winner and World Superbike race winner. And the boys in the front are not going slow this year, so if I can grab fourth, I'll be ecstatic and it will be good to move into MotoGP on good terms and holding my head high, I suppose.
Motorcycle racing paddocks have never been good at keeping secrets, but this year seems to be particularly bad. As predicted by MotoMatters.com on Thursday, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team have confirmed that Cal Crutchlow will be riding their MotoGP bike next year. Crutchlow and Tech 3 have agreed a two-year deal for 2011 and 2012, giving Crutchlow a chance to get accustomed to MotoGP machinery without the immediate pressure to perform. The switch back to 1000cc for 2012 should also make Crutchlow's job in his second year a little bit easier, the bikes expected to be a little more like the Sterilgarda Yamaha World Superbike he has raced this season.
Below is the press release from Tech 3:
Cal Crutchlow joins Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team
The return of a British MotoGP draws ever nearer. Cal Crutchlow has been linked to a MotoGP ride for several months now, but the Englishman now looks set to finalize the deal in the next couple of weeks, with an announcement possibly coming as early as this weekend at Misano. Talks are expected to take place here in Misano to settle the last few details with Yamaha bosses, but a deal now looks to be certain.
Crutchlow is so sure of securing the deal that he has broken off talks with World Superbike teams, and is focused on switching to MotoGP with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad, MotoMatters.com understands. An announcement by the Sterilgarda Yamaha rider is now merely a formality.
With the highest-profile moves all officially confirmed, MotoGP's Silly Season is starting to run out of steam. The big surprises are out of the way, and we are left with just over half the seats still unfilled. But even for the unsigned rides, names have already been penciled in, some rather more firmly than others.
The two big names still waiting to put their signatures under contracts are surely Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo's Brazilian manager is said to be playing hardball with Yamaha, trying to extract the best possible conditions out of the Japanese factory now that the sales powerhouse Valentino Rossi has left Yamaha to go to Ducati. Rumors of a 14 million euro salary demand are unconfirmed, but with Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica likely to take on sponsorship of the Yamaha squad, Lorenzo might be expected to earn that in sponsorship by allying his selling power to the Telefonica brand.
Confirmed and expected rider and team line up for the 2011 MotoGP season
Yesterday, we discussed who is going where in the factory teams in MotoGP. For the most part, those deals are either public, or really badly-kept secrets. Today, we'll look at the situation among the satellite teams, a situation which is much, much less clear-cut than the factory squad, in part because the factory deals have not all been announced yet. The number of changes are suprisingly few, reflecting in part the problems in MotoGP. As costs rise, the cost of being competitive is growing, and more importantly, the cost of failure is increasing as well.
Despite all attempts to put MotoGP's silly season on hold while the world awaits Valentino Rossi's announcement that he has signed for Ducati, the business of filling next year's empty seats rumbles on. That business is most pressing for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, as the team looks set to lose both its current riders at the end of this season.
In an interview with the French website Moto Caradisiac, Monster Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal sheds some light on his plans for 2011. The interview covers both MotoGP and Moto2, and in it, Poncharal lets slip a few interesting details.