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.
Crutchlow has made no secret of his desire to move up to MotoGP. The Englishman came close to signing a Moto2 deal with Fausto Gresini in the middle of last year, while Crutchlow was still racing World Supersport, but Yamaha held him to the second year of his two-year deal, which saw Crutchlow join the Sterilgarda Yamaha team in World Superbikes. Crutchlow has an option to stay with Yamaha's WSBK squad, but has decided to turn it down for a shot in MotoGP with Tech 3.
The risk for Crutchlow is embodied by his current Sterilgarda Yamaha teammate. James Toseland left the World Superbike paddock for a stint in the Tech 3 team, and after a stunning start, Toseland's progress seemed to stall on the MotoGP bike. The Yorkshireman made a reluctant return to World Superbikes with the Yamaha factory squad, and has taken his time to adapt back to WSBK machinery.
Crutchlow also has big boots to fill. The Englishman will take the place of Ben Spies, who is leaving the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team to move up to the factory squad for 2011. Spies has exceeded Yamaha's expectations of his performance, scoring two podiums and a pole after just 11 races in the series. Crutchlow would not be expected to match that level of performance, but he will certainly be under pressure to exceed the results of James Toseland.
Yamaha manager Lin Jarvis told Motorcycle News earlier this week that he believed that Crutchlow would be better off spending another year in World Superbikes. The pressure is on for Crutchlow to prove him wrong.