The Next Piece In The MotoGP Puzzle: Cal Crutchlow To LCR Honda In 2015

It looks like Ducati will get their all-Italian line-up after all. Both and Speedweek are reporting independently that Cal Crutchlow will be leaving Ducati to join LCR Honda for the 2015 season. Officially, Crutchlow had until 31st July to exercise his option to leave Ducati, but it appears that Ducati management agreed to an extension, while negotiations continued with Honda. An agreement was reached late last night, Speedweek is reporting, with one of the main points of contention being the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving.

A week ago, Crutchlow announced that he would be staying with the Italian factory at the World Ducati Week event. Since then, however, the situation changed, with Crutchlow's manager Bob Moore reaching agreement with Ducati management to explore further options. That led directly to the release of Crutchlow to join LCR.

Crutchlow is the latest in a long line of victims claimed by the Italian marque. Marco Melandri was the first to leave, departing early from a two-year contract of struggling miserably in 2008. Valentino Rossi sat patiently through his two seasons at Ducati, seizing the opportunity to return to Yamaha as soon as he could. And now Cal Crutchlow, courted by Ducati for a long time in the belief that he could solve their problems, has also departed. Crutchlow has struggled all season long, both with a string of mechanical failures, and with trying to adapt his riding style to the difficult Desmosedici.

The switch to Honda is hardly unexpected. Crutchlow came very close to signing for LCR Honda last year, but only last-minute intervention by Ducati swung the deal towards the Italian factory. HRC are known to view Crutchlow favorably, and with a large British sponsor on board - CWM World, a financial services company - having a British rider makes a lot of sense. Crutchlow will have to adapt his style once again, moving away from the smooth style he learned at Yamaha, and riding more aggressively. He should at least be able to carry some corner speed again, something he was renowned for on the Yamaha but was impossible on the Ducati.

Crutchlow's departure makes life significantly easier for Ducati. The relationship between the two parties became strained from quite early on, with Crutchlow's forthright manner not always fitting well inside the tightly-controlled corporate communications culture of Ducati. The factory had also signed Andrea Iannone for 2015 with a promise of factory support. Iannone, who has had some strong results this season, was unhappy with the arrangement, but the Ducati deal was his best option. Ducati can now offer Iannone what he wants, which is a seat in the Ducati factory team alongside Andrea Dovizioso.

With Crutchlow at LCR Honda, and Iannone and Dovizioso at factory Ducati, that opens up a seat at Pramac Ducati. Eugene Laverty has been in previous talks with the Pramac squad, though the Irishman is also believed to be in the frame for a slot at Aprilia, who will be buying out the PBM team for 2015. The Pramac team has also shown an interest in Stefan Bradl, who is making way for Crutchlow at LCR Honda. But Bradl's most likely destination is the Forward Yamaha team, where team manager Giovanni Cuzari has two slots to fill, with the retirement of Colin Edwards, and the almost certain departure to Suzuki of Aleix Espargaro. Alex De Angelis is to be drafted in to replace Edwards at certain select rounds this season - Brno, which comes a week after Indianapolis, and the three flyaway rounds of Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island - and is a candidate to take the second seat at Forward. 

Jack Miller's name continues to do the rounds, though it now seems more likely he will head to Gresini, rather than LCR. Miller will take the production RCV1000R at Gresini, with Scott Redding moving up to the RC213V vacated by Alvaro Bautista, as Redding's contract decrees. Next year's production Honda will be a very different kettle of fish to this year's bike, however, with Honda supplying the engine from this year's satellite bikes, minus the seamless gearbox. 

Once the paddock reconvenes at Indianpolis this coming Thursday, even more will become clear. By then, Jorge Lorenzo should have renewed his deal with Yamaha, and several other of the open seats should be filled. The only satellite seat with a question mark hanging over it is the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently held by Bradley Smith. Who will fill that is very much up in the air.

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I predicted exactly this result a few weeks ago. I just could not see Luigi Dall'Igna being happy with the rider lineup he inherited when he arrived at Ducati. Now, I get the impression that an elaborate charade was played out, with the prize being a sum of settlement cash. Ducati wanted Cal to exercise his opt-out clause, but didn't want to pay him to do it. Cal wanted to leave, but convinced Ducati he would stay... unless Ducati offed some cash to ease the pain of leaving. In the end, Ducati decides it is worth the cost.

Crutchlow will never have a shot at a seat in the Repsol team IMO, but maybe a shot at the podium next year if the stars align just right in a given race.

Just another rider burnt by Ducati, at least he gets a pay check before he finds his way back to BSB as a best shot. Good rider but just couple of grades above his level at the moment, can`t see him doing much if any better than Bradl. Go back and play in your own league.
beamer 12

'Burned by Ducati'?

Cal jumped quite willingly into the fire, and has only himself to blame for the resultant blisters and pain.

Sympathy-O-Meter [\......]

yup... pretty much that.

not only did he jump willingly into the fire, he was making claims that it would suit his riding style because he thinks he rides like stoner.

i will actually laugh pretty hard if Gigi's new bike in 2015 is a bit of a monster :D

and he burned himself. All that trash talk about how he could succeed on the Ducati because he could work it like Stoner was pure BS. He's always been overrated. Don't think he'll do much at LCR, either

I don't like this. LCR will regret losing Bradl.

Speedweek's first article on the matter a day or two ago read partly like a direct translation of the first GPOne feature which claimed to have gotten the info directly from a chat with Cecchinello. Speedweek wrote the same thing as the Italian guys, but without naming any sources. I don't think this really counts as "reporting independently", regardless of who copied who without mentioning the source...

He has seen the Ducati trainwreck from the inside, and has smartly decided to have a decent ride and decent paycheck at LCR than dangerous misery and a fat check at Dusquati.

What has me curious is the portion of the Ducati statement "...factory rider Cal Crutchlow to terminate, ahead of time, the contract that ties the British rider to the Italian team in MotoGP for 2014 and also for next season," (from www.CRASH.NET)

Does Cal finish the season at Donotrideme?

is the make or break year for Cal Cruthlow, period.

The LCR machine is a factory bike, if he can't do it on this then its time for him to go.


I think he can shine on this bike, he's got the grit, determination and a cheeky sparkle in his eye as well as a bike that turns corners, and its Ohlins / Brembo rather than Showa / Nissin which will shorten the learning period.

Pity about the rest of 2014 though, just wish Ducati had fixed the one problem on the bike they ignored for years - the engine packaging. If they sorted that the carbon frame may well have worked.

I just don't see him beating Marc or Dani on the same equipment (let alone customer spec), nor Rossi on the Yamaha.

And that's fine, we need guys to fill the grid. But yes, the excuses of "blah if only i had a factory bike!" are running out.

I had preferred to see Aleix Espargaro on the LCR Honda seat to see what he is capable of. It is a critical time in his career and we have seen less of him on one of the (unfortunately few in this era) podium contending bikes. Looks like he will go Suzuki, and is a optimal pick for them I think.

Very happy for Crutchlow to get this GEM of a ride. I see his natural riding style as having been a little bit constricted on the Yamaha. Besides, he is a great guy and I want to see him happy and back in contention for podiums.

The LCR bike is an underrated superstar maker. Time for Bradl to give someone else a turn and glad to see Cal on it (2nd to Aleix, or perhaps one of those couple of dynamo kids coming up from lower classes). Very glad also to see the ride not go to an obligatory rider due to their passport or sponsor backing and endure them running mid pack on the rocketship to the Aliens.

Hola Hailway, how about this - what bike on the 2014-2015 grid would be the best podium-worthy package outside of the four Factory Team Honda and Yamaha seats?
A few yrs ago I would have said Gresini, until they shifted to Showa/Nissin. Tech3 has had strong showings before the the fuel limit got so extreme, but I still see one and only one this year: LCR Honda.

Seems like getting the treasured 4 seats is by and large an opportunity for this season's superstars. Next season's stardom machine? Would love to hear other points of view of course. Hopes are one thing (Gigi's new Duc, Suzuki, my dashed ones from last winter for the Fwd Open Yamaha and Aleix, etc) and enjoy hearing about educated hopes, but what can you hang your hat on? Heck, for next season's rules specifically (esp 20L fuel) there are only TWO riders I think would not do better on the LCR Honda than the one they are on now, and they have Repsol leathers.

Picture any rider that appears to be readied for a potential upwards career trajectory in MotoGP that could break out of orbit in Alien status (say, podiums and regularly mixing it up with JL99/VR46/DP26 in dry conditions). What one bike should they be on for next season and why?


Tech 3's all time highest finishers in Moto GP;

Shinya Nakano 5th
Colin Edwards 5th
Ben Spies 6th
Andrea Dovizioso 4th
Cal Crutchlow 5th

Hi folks.

To be specific, not in the past has it done so, NOW and NEXT SEASON -

Aside from the 2 Repsol bikes, with only one single caveat, the LCR factory rules Honda seat is the best bike available and CAPABLE of boosting a rider who is ready and able up onto podiums. For every single rider but one, which is JL99, and w the 2014 Bstone tire compound change w the layer that drops edge grip a smidge AND the Yamaha factory engine on 20L I would say he would be even odds on his bike or the LCR.

If you do 3 stars or less and buzz by to get excited about calling Crutchlow a mid pack rider when he was showing glimpses of more potential on a Tech 3 Yamaha not as well suited to his style than the Honda would be, or what have you else...take a quick moment and give something interesting some consideration...are Motomatters commentes REALLY not up to trancending getting jazzed about saying he should be like Pedrosa in his iinterviews,

If I had a 'dream discussion' on here it would be something like as many of us as possible exploring all the angles of a question like "what specifically is hindering the Forward Open Yamaha from having power and top speed this season?' or 'Championship Electronics on the Factory Honda with Michelin tires: an expose.'

Not 'Cal is a slow rude jerk' 'Ducati scews over riders' 'Rea stinks' et al. This is Motomatters!

I really would've like to have seen Jonathan Rea get the LCR ride. I think Cal might be a little over rated. He has underperformed on the Ducati IMO, even compared to NH69 the last couple of years. I won't be a bit surprised if Redding is quicker than Cal next year. By the way, what happened to all the Japanese talent? I've been following GPs since the mid '80s and it seemed like there was always an up and coming Japanese phenom that the Japanese factories were looking to give a ride to. 2015 may feature zero Americans and zero Japanese riders if Nicky's wrist is as bad as people are saying. When's the last time that happened?

If anyone in WSBK has earned a shot at a motogp ride it would be Rea. 3rd place in the championship on a bike that should be having trouble cracking the top ten is pretty good. I'd say he's punching well above his weight right now.

Satellite teams with factory bikes are looking for a podium rider - not 7th not 8th not 9th. Rea can ride for a team like avintia or pbm but not teams like LCR and Gresini.

Not that I have a particular opinion either way about Rea, but he was tossed into the cooking pot of MotoGP with no prior experience of the bike or tyres whatsoever. True, he had a great bike and team but his results were still pretty good given the circumstances. Certainly more impressive than the likes of Bradl, Bautista and even Smith etc getting similar results with considerable experience in the class.

Errr, if you look at last year and the 9 races of this current season, satellite bikes are on the rostrum only a handful of times. This year, it's once (in Le Mans) by *Bautista* of all people. 2013, out of 5x a 'satellite' team was in the top 3, Bradl was on there once (Laguna Seca), and the other 4 were all Crutchlow.

In 2013, Bradl finished 7th overall, was 8th in 2012, and is currently 9th.
Bautista is currently 10th.
Iannone is currently 8th, last year he was 12th. PEspargaro is 7th. His brother is 6th on a SINO (satellite in name only) yamaha.

When Rea does a couple races on a completely unfamiliar bike and gets those same results under enormous pressure, how can you apply different standards of overall results? I'd say he deserves the same shot that anyone else gets.

Cal is a middle of the pack rider whose mouth is bigger than his talent. 6 podiums is all. Vastly overrated. He talked his way into a big payday from Ducati and can't perform. Ducati was dumb enough to fall for it.

... dumb enough to fall for it, or limited for choice?

Cal wanted on the Duc, Ianonne wants on it... not sure how keen anyone else would be on giving up their bike for it?

6 podiums is all? How many podiums and poles do Bradl, Bautista and all the Tech 3 riders combined have over the last 4 or 5 years?

Cal's got a big mouth which may not serve him well all the time, but he has speed and talent, and thank heavens he is not just another robot personality like half the other guys. I suspect that going to the Duc after riding the best cornering bike in MotoGP had something to do with his (and Vale's) troubles on that bike. Dovi struggled his first year too.

I'm glad both Hondas are going to new riders. Bradl and Bautista had their chance and failed to deliver any consistent results.

Good for Cal that he can have his cake and eat it too....

Now that the LCR deal is done, one thing Cal will have to learn between now and start of next season is to shut his trap...

He has burnt his bridges at Yamaha by talking about how he deserved a factory contract more than Pol and how ot wasn't forthcoming....

Now he has also burnt his bridges at Duc, where there is for the first time in many seasons a legitimate chance of getting an improved bike next season...

If he bad mouths Honda, he can kiss his GP/WSB career good bye because one thing that the factories don't take is public crticism especially if you have not proven yet to be a championship material...Ask Max Biaggi how it worked for him when he took on the Big H....and especially with strong personalities like Nakamoto and Livio Suppo who don't take crap, Cal would be well advised to keep his mouth shut...

I am a little less interested in Cal Crutchlow's future than I am in Ducati's. I like Crutchlow more because he is a character, one who messes up the perfect gentlemen's quotient in the MotoGP paddock. One thing that is true is that 2015 is his last year in MotoGP. I am not going to go into his talent and all that. Like I said he is akin to a gunslinger with a cavalier attitude and whatever be the level he can ride a bike. So let us leave him at that.

Luigi Dall'Igna is the more interesting personality. There are a lot of people some Ducati fans and others not, curious about what he is going to produce next year and what it will do to the results that Ducati are looking for. History and logic dictate that very rarely does one find a new motorcycle bang out of the box and winning. Usually a season and sometimes two are required for the bike to reach its prime. So next year, unless Dall'Igna is God, the Ducati is not going to see some fantastic results. All it may show is its potential, for its designer is not God. And the two Andreas on the Ducati are not God's gift to motorcycle riding either (like Casey Stoner - I bring his name up because this is about Ducati and Marc Marquez), so we do not really know how good they are at developing bikes. So Ducati will be the pit of darkness, the Super Unknown if you like.

Somehow for all discussions that are about Ducati are also about Filippo Preziosi. He was the true genius of the factory but his reputation was torn to tatters by the Rossi years at Ducati. As I always say, that is the man who could really have a given a fix to the Ducati, Dall'Igna is not really in the same league of innovation. Let me draw an analogy, Preziosi is like Enzo Ferrari and Dall'Igna is like Flavio Briatore. Of course, I could be wrong, and if I am, I will eat humble pie. That is a promise.

" ... the payoff Crutchlow would receive from Ducati for leaving." If there was any justice Crutchlow would be paying Ducati to leave given his pathetic performance in comparison to Dovizioso and Iannone.

I'm beginning to think I've had CC35 all wrong -loud mouth, no brains, poor business acumen (signing a 1yr contract at Tech3 that effectively put him in the Ducati or nothing position).

What he's orchestrated & achieved is up there with the best. He obviously came close to the LCR ride (factory supported RCV) last season but Bradl stayed on -either way he left a good impression (or maybe had a nod & a wink there would be space for him in 2015). He then goes out and negotiates a top dollar contract with Ducati whereby he holds the cards for the 2nd year.

[Spoiler -he's now just unlocked a pathway to €3-5m euro in 1 season and a near-as-you're-ever-going-to-get Factory RCV]

Come the midway into the 2014 season - through bad luck, poor bike prep, dodgy electronics, & poor personal performances, followed by the subsequent vocal bad-mouthing (who saw that coming?) to the press about the bike, lack of development, etc - and Ducati really didn't want to keep him for 2015 but now aren't in a position to control his contract renewal for 2015.

Now he tightens the screws on Ducati telling the press he'll be staying with them for 2015 (when all Ducati really want is Ianonne [and they'd made him a few promises]), now it's effectively up to Ducati to buy him out of his 2015 contract. If his base contract is ~€2.5m/yr you can bet the held out for something at least close to that.

At the same time he closes the deal with LCR whilst bringing in (or certainly his name facilitating) a new financial backer for LCR.

Top marks from me, got paid 'Alien' money in 1yr and lands on his feet on a factory supported Honda ride with new main sponsor.

In terms of contract negotiation he's the Alien in MotoGP.

Bob Moore has played a blinder..

Was the "WHY I'M NOT QUITTING DUCATI" exclusive interview..plastered over the front pages of MCN, a master stroke in using mainstream press to BLUFF Domenicali?

I read somewhere that a third Facory bike for Iannone would cost 8 million.
Settling Crutchlow up at 2.5 is a create an all Italian, corporately focused and on the same page Ducati..for the new bike challenge ahead.

Last season of the 'Playstation' bikes - much Factory kudos - and the Brit has landed arguably, the 3rd most competitive bike on the grid earning very nice money.

I'd call that a result.

If cal hadn't given them an interview making wild bluff claims, then i'm sure MCN could make them up by themselves.

I'm still waiting for the V4 fireblade replacement you featured on the cover in a 2006 "exclusive scoop" you gits.

... next season look that much more tantalizing what with Suzuki joining the festivities, Crutchlow on a competitive bike and an all-new Ducati that will almost certainly out-perform the GP14.

So...why is Cal more deserving of the fact/sat Honda over Rea? Rea has more sbk wins than Cal on a somewhat semi-factory supported "dated" Honda. Cal had what like 2 wins on a full on factory R1 in sbk? Yes Cal did win the supersport title, but he wasn't dominating sbk like Spies did on that same bike the following year. Rea didn't do to bad either for his very first time on the factory Honda RCV wildcard replacing Stoner. If there is any British "sbk-style" rider deserving of a ride it should be Rea, Laverty, or Sykes. Cal is a good rider, but I feel he was with the right sbk team at the time to be given ticket to the big league imho. Yamaha were the only manufacturer looking outside of Moto2 for the next up and coming riders.

My reasons for wanting Rea to get the LCR ride over Cal are that Crutchlow has underperformed on the Ducati and that he has shown zero loyalty to ANY manufacturer. Rea on the other hand, has shown well on on outdated Honda CBR in SBK for years now, won the Suzuka 8 hours for the brand, filled in nicely on the factory Repsol MotoGP bike, and has generally been a loyal and patient ambassador for Honda. These characteristics are much more respected by the Japanese culture than being labeled a loud mouth malcontent.

The bigger the company the less the likelihood of any qualities such as loyalty being appreciated. Gigantic faceless corporations do not have a fixed gaze on anything but profits (even the ever so polite Japanese tread this path). For teams like LCR having a "loud mouth malcontent" is beneficial for the extra exposure that it brings to the team and consequently the sponsors.

Lots of folks throw around the 'loyalty' card....

So, they can answer the question.

Nicky Hayden was far more loyal to Ducati than anyone could expect.

What, exactly, did that get him?

5 years of a big paycheck despite mediocre performances (far from the only one on the Ducati). OK, I don't think he wanted to leave when he did but he got a much longer run in a team than most get. I think much of that was his tireless loyalty and hard work in the commercial arena. Beyond that, they also then offered him a (turns out to be top) WSB ride. That is quite a lot that it got him!

I don't have an axe to grind for either of these riders, but I have a lot of respect for their ability. I cannot see how loyalty is an attribute that should weigh greater for one rider than another - morals and decency perhaps, but 'loyalty'? What about his family? Shouldn't a rider go where the best deal is in order to provide for his family?
Also, teams that want a rider to keep quiet are not what I want. I'm sure Cal doesn't say a lot of what he could and the likes of Poncheral seem to have a genuine fondness for him. He has received a lot of criticism for wanting a better bike. Do we really want riders who say 'No, this one is quite good. Just let me try as hard as I can'?
Rea - a lovely guy. Seems to have decided that his best opportunity lies with HRC and being a hard-working, fast rider. Out-performs his teammates most of the time. Jumped on a strange bike and was well inside the top ten. As a 'rookie' that would be heralded as a great performance (even if it is below what Marquez achieved).
I suspect HRC are keen to keep Rea in WSB for several reasons. Another point to bear in mind is that Lucio Ceccinello is known to love his racing and to be quite astute at picking riders with talent. I don't think that he would pick Cal for his lead rider if he didn't believe he deserved it.

Crutchlow rode for Yamaha for five years during which time he gave them a WSS Championship, SBK race wins, podiums and pole positions, MotoGP poles, podiums, front rows and regular top four placings, finishing top Yamaha in some races and running Lorenzo close in pace and beating Rossi more than once during 2013.

Cal was doing all he could to earn the coveted MotoGP factory place with Yamaha for 2014, only to be told they were signing a rider on a works contract who had never ridden for the marque, had never won a world championship and who was taking his place at Tech 3 due to his teammate (Smith) already having a contract in place for 2014.

Now just how much loyalty did Yamaha show Cal for his five years of graft and grit when they signed Pol Espargaro at the start of 2013?

Glad he's got the LCR ride, the Ducati has been horrendously unreliable this year, and with it being so unrideable too unless your face fits in the Italian team its a career killer. Ask Melandri.

Re 'loud mouth, gum flapper, disloyal' etc comments, agreed DC
and specifically...
At Tech3 he and Poncheral were BOTH under the impression that Yamaha had given them a verbal agreement that Cal's bike would get a much more solid strong factory support than they actually received, interpreted by some to mean a full fat factory bike (I doubt that this is accurate) and by most to mean MUCH better than they followed through with.

I respect the very difficult clear assertiveness he showed, I see him as no B.S. and willing to gamble in order to get things done. His team mate's bike was noteably better and I am more than understanding of his struggle w Yamaha there. Poncheral, wisely I believe, is 'nice guy' in nature and is 'part of the family' w Yamaha. If a role functioning deficit up above is a concern, and I see inconsistency or integrity difficult somewhere above me in an organization, I am 'that guy' too.

P.S. - Rea is a under appreciated rider. The jump to a MotoGP bike and specifically the Bstone tires and braking markers between Superbikes and GP's is also under appreciated. If Honda had made that V4...

This business at this level is not about loyalty. Especially Ducati. From Troy Corser in WSB to Stoner. HRC isn't much better.

I think Cal going in was just gaming the system looking for a payday. Rea on the other side is a true believer in HRC. He saw Bradl and maybe thought he'd be next.

MM changed the game. Everyone knows they are paying riders for 2nd place now. Now they just need personalities to fill a lot of the grid. Hello NASCAR. Can you hear me?

Say what you will about Crutchlow or Ducati, but the sport is better off when Crutchlow has a decent ride, and Ducati get a new factory talent. The politics of this move are unseemly, but the fans are winners. We have an interesting story line for 2015.

I have to agree with those saying that Cal made a huge thing about getting the factory Ducati ride because he could make it work like Stoner did. I also have to agree with those who say that money is his master. All I can see is that he has done as well as he's going to and that is better than any other Brit who has swapped from the other series in years but we're still looking for the one to make a successful transition!