Stefan Bradl Extends Contract With LCR Honda For 2014

With Cal Crutchlow's signing out of the way, a few more pieces of MotoGP's 2014 puzzle are starting to fall into place. The next domino to fall was Stefan Bradl, the German having his contract at LCR Honda extended for the 2014 season as expected. Bradl wil now stay with the team for another season as a factory-supported rider, with direct backing from HRC.

The extension had been a long time coming. HRC held the option to extend Bradl's contract, but gave serious consideration to placing Cal Crutchlow in the LCR team. Once Crutchlow decided to go to Ducati, any doubt over Bradl's future was removed. The news came as a great relief to Lucio Cecchinello, who has been a strong supporter of Bradl, the German having been a very good fit with the LCR team, and having shown himself capable of running close to the front. HRC and LCR's faith in Bradl was finally rewarded at Laguna Seca, where the German scored his first ever podium in MotoGP.

Bradl's confirmation means that all but one of the prototype rides has now been taken, with only the second satellite Ducati left open. Andrea Iannone looks almost certain to keep his seat at Pramac for next year. Any further changes will only take place among the CRT teams, or as they will be known from 2014, the non-MSMA entries. Scott Redding is believed to be close to a deal with the Gresini Honda team to ride a Honda production racer, but any agreement will likely wait until the young Briton's home Grand Prix at Silverstone. The biggest question for many MotoGP fans is what will become of Nicky Hayden, with the popular American being linked to a number of rides. Ducati would like to see Hayden go to World Superbikes and campaign the Panigale, as well as help with its development. They face serious competition from American Honda, however, the US importer keen to bring Hayden back into the fold. That backing would see Hayden on one of two options, either at the Pata Honda team in World Superbikes, or else on a production racer in MotoGP. Hayden is also believed to be in the frame for one of the Yamaha M1s to be raced by the NGM Forward team next season.

Below is the press release from LCR Honda announcing Bradl's contract extension:


LCR Honda Team is pleased to announce that Stefan Bradl has confirmed the agreement with Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) to line up as a Honda “factory supported” rider competing for the LCR Team in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship.

The former Moto2 World Champion (currently 6th in the premier class world classification), with direct support from HRC, will continue the productive collaboration with Lucio Cecchinello’s Team which began in 2012 and saw Bradl taking the “Rookie of the Year” Award and his first MotoGP Pole Position and podium this year at Laguna Seca race track.

Shuhei Nakamoto (HRC Vice President): “HRC is happy to continue working with Stefan in the LCR team in 2014. He is showing the performance we expected and he is working very well with Lucio's team. We believe in them and we look forward to seeing Stefan on the podium again soon and many times in the future!"

Lucio Cecchinello – Team Manager: “Being a part of HRC’s program and continuing our sport project with Stefan through to 2014 make us very happy and very proud. Stefan has amazed everybody at his debut in 2012 and is now showing his progress in the MotoGP class. His first MotoGP podium was a great result for him and for the whole Team so, from our side, we will do our best to support Stefan in 2014”.

Stefan Bradl: “HRC’s support was extremely important for me in my first season in the premier class and, with their direct cooperation, I achieved my first podium in the top class this year. I am happy to continue with Lucio’s Team because we know each other very well now and we have built a professional and friendly atmosphere in the Team which allows me to be at 100% every race”.

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I am pleased this is a done deal for one primary reason. I dislike the concept of HRC 'placing' riders with a team. While I can understand this when a team is effectively a junior/feeder team, it concerns me more that this 'overlord' style is becoming more prevalent with the advent of Honda's production racer and Yamaha's M1 engine leasing. The idea that the factories will now have sway over not only their own factory team and satellites but even with ostensible privateers/non-mmsa teams.

I had thought the concept of CRTs had been to break the strangle hold the two Japanese factories particularly have over the series, something which was the one saving grace of CRTs. Along with a huge increase in prices these bikes seem to be bringing the CRT experiment seems to be in the process of being killed off with kindness.

Would not mind seeing Nicky on a production Honda MotoGP bike. For whatever reason, the CBR seems to be performing in WSBK the role of the Ducati in MotoGP - a bike that makes the rider look worse than they are. I think that Honda proddie racer is gonna be good, and Nicky will enjoy riding it and be able to utilize his skills.

I'm glad to see Stefan get this contract. His father was very fast and good but I must admit that not unlike Vale and his father, the son has the edge in this case also. No that is not a comparison with Rossi to Bradl, except that they had fathers that raced.

As has been seen, when given the final piece to the puzzle (brakes) he's suddenly contending for podiums. I'm looking forward to seeing him battling towards the front and very possibly a win in the right circumstances. Danka Helmut, he shows the same mental toughness and determination that was always a great asset to yourself.

Please please stay away from anything RED. You deserve far better than that. They think giving you a WSBK ride is fair treatment after sacking you from the factory motoGP team?

Get back on a Honda and feel what a true racebike feels like again. Whether it be production racer or CBR. At least American Honda is willing to show you some love. You know that the V4 CBR will be out by 2015 and be quite the asskicker.

I wouldn't even reply to Ducati phone calls after this year.

David, what about Bautista's ride? I thought that was in play as well?

I would like to see Nicky go to Aprilia and then get at the front again. Now that would be brilliant PR for Aprilia, especially with such a popular guy. If not in GP's, then on an RSV4 in Superbikes. He would be seriously kicking ass there, I feel.
I think even with the current ART that Espargaro rides he would be doing pretty well, but of course I am hoping for some serious further upgrades.
In any case, I hope he will be on competitive machinery next year. I think he is still fast on a good motorcycle.

Great to see Bradl having secured his seat for 2014! He fully deserves it. And it's nice to have a German up there as well, next to all those Spaniards... Given the size of the German motorcycle market, their large (technoligical as well) industry and that they have several serious race tracks, I would actually expect more Germans in MotoGP.

It is good to read that Stefan Bradl has been given one more year by Honda at LCR with factory backing. I would like to echo Matt Redman's view that this whole game of placing riders in various teams by Honda and Yamaha is somehow distasteful and disturbing. I do not think they play any part in securing funding for the teams that they place factory contracted riders in.

Bur coming back to Bradl, he is in the second year of his MotoGP campaign and he looks unimpressive thus far (Indianapolis apart, which could be one off) just as Bradley Smith does at Yamaha. Signing Pol Espargaro could be a huge blunder by Yamaha and it is more than likely that he will go the Smith-Bradl way rather than the Marc Marquez way. But then watching MotoGP on TV from the comfort of my home does not really give the right picture about capabilities of riders, so I could be way of the mark here. But having said that I increasingly feel that Bradl is no Casey Stoner or Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo or even a Cal Crutchlow, let alone Marc Marquez.

Nicky Hayden, one has to feel sorry for. The man is an ex world champion, very pleasant and always far away from unnecessary controversies and the treatment meted out to him by Ducati is not something that one expects. I hope he remains in MotoGP and not take up the Panigale ride in Superbike which is definitely going to be dumbed down (for the right reasons).

The official MotoGP site mentions that King Kenny is planning a return to MotoGP as a team owner and he says if it all it happens it will be "very big". Does that mean he is bringing in another manufacturer into MotoGP? Or is he going to take over the Suzuki team? That seems possible given that he has said that he will be coming in 2015 and that is the year that Suzuki also has chosen. Then there is the fact, the Roberts Jr., won the last World Championship for Suzuki in 2000. But I prefer if he is about to bring BMW or Aprilia or Kawasaki back into GP racing. Should wait and watch or maybe I am just clutching on to straws here.