Cal Crutchlow Confirmed As Replacement For Franco Morbidelli For Three Races

The first race after the summer break will see retired racers returning to the MotoGP grid. After Dani Pedrosa was confirmed as a wildcard at the Styria GP at Spielberg, Cal Crutchlow has now officially been confirmed as replacing Franco Morbidelli at both races in Austria and at his home Grand Prix at Silverstone. Today, the Petronas Yamaha SRT team issued a press release announcing Crutchlow for the next three races. Morbidelli is absent after having surgery on his left knee to fix an issue with his ACL.

Racing at Austria will not be easy for Crutchlow, MotoGP veteran and now official Yamaha tester. The 2019 Yamaha M1 is the slowest bike on the grid by some margin, an important factor at the Spielberg circuit. It will be a good base to get up to speed for his home race at Silverstone: there has been at least one Yamaha on the podium at the Northamptonshire circuit at every race held at the track since its return to the Grand Prix calendar in 2010.

The fact that Crutchlow is to replace Franco Morbidelli for the next three rounds points to the Italian prioritizing his recovery from ACL surgery over the 2021 MotoGP season. This could be read as a clear indication that Morbidelli is in line to move up to the factory Yamaha team in 2022, taking the place of the departing Maverick Viñales. Morbidelli is clearly the best option for the seat, having proved his worth by finishing second in the championship in 2020.

What will become of Viñales is less clear, with no word of where the Spaniard might land for 2022. Similarly, the search for a replacement (or two) at Petronas is also far from settled.

The Petronas Yamaha press release appears below:

Crutchlow to join PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team for next three races

Cal Crutchlow will stand-in for the recovering Franco Morbidelli at Styrian, Austrian and British GPs

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team welcomes Cal Crutchlow to the Malaysian squad as stand-in for Franco Morbidelli while the Italian rider continues his recovery from left knee surgery.

Crutchlow will take part in the two Grands Prix in Austria, held at Spielberg, and the BritishGP at Silverstone – his home race.

Crutchlow is no stranger to Yamaha MotoGP machinery, having started his premier class career with the Japanese marque in 2011 – spending three seasons aboard the Yamaha – and is now the official factory test and development rider.

Razlan Razali, Team Principal, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

After looking at all the options, it was a collective decision between Yamaha and ourselves to ask Cal Crutchlow to fill in for Franco, while he recovers from surgery. Cal is a credible and experienced rider, who is currently a test rider for Yamaha. As an independent team, this is where we can really step up to help Yamaha. Cal will be able to rack up some good mileage on our M1, which should aid him with his testing and development work for Yamaha. Cal will replace Franco for the next three races and we have no real targets for him in terms of results. We will do all we can to help support him and make him feel comfortable in the team. He’s already familiar with some of the key people in the team, which helps, and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge.

Cal Crutchlow, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

It’s great to be back riding with Yamaha this year as the official test rider and to be able to step in when needed is good for all parties. I’m looking forward to riding for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in the three Grands Prix. Obviously it’s not in the best circumstances and I wish Franco a good recovery, I hope he comes back strongly after the knee surgery. I’m sure he will because he’s been riding fantastically over the last two years.

I think it’s difficult to set targets for these three races and it will be more about understanding the bike, as I’ve had limited riding days this year. The good thing will be that I can compare the bikes and I should be able to gather a lot of data for Yamaha. It’s a bit like being thrown in the deep end, as it’s a very competitive MotoGP class, but I’m really looking forward to it and it’s going to be good to be back on the grid.

I’m looking forward to meeting the team in Austria, although there will be some familiar faces for me because Wilco Zeelenberg was my Team Manager in Supersport in 2009 and I actually raced against Johan Stigefelt some years ago, so it’s going to be a pleasure to be back with them.


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Cal back on a Yamaha will be a welcome addition, of course quick knee recovery wished for rising possibility of Morbidelli. BUT the replacement ride sees Cal on the customer "A Spec" 2019 bike. It is down on power. It isn't being developed, it is being ridden. Rules are rules, but contrast Dani.


Pedrosa is going to Wildcard on the 2022 development bike. There is a lot of work to do, and is a race - test hybrid. I expect Dani will run more strongly. Morbidelli too has been limited by his bike. Shame we don't get to see Cal doing the same on fresh Yamaha development kit...way more interesting.

That said, he just has to hop on and ride. Betcha Dani beats him. These are enjoyable additions!

Almost there, a week and a day. Whew!

Sums it up perfectly Motoshrink. I don't want to wish my days away, but, next weekend needs to hurry up. This summer break has been painfully long....

This. I've said it before and unfortunately it needs to be said again. For such a successful racing operation Yamaha just keep doing really, really dumb things. Why isn't Cal out on a 2022 bike? What is the point of putting a test rider on a bike two years behind in development? I'm really just surprised that Yamaha does as well as it does when they are constantly emptying both barrels into their own feet. Ridiculous. 

They can't put Crutchlow on a 2022 bike. Because he is acting as a replacement rider (not a wildcard) he has to use the bike and engines of the rider he is replacing.

^ Tis the rules.

However, they CAN Wildcard him on a development bike! Right Yamaha? British Round?!


Petronas MUST replace Franko because he is missing more than 2 GPs. Therefore if Yamaha were to put Cal on a 2022 developement bike as a wildcard they would need to find a second rider to ride Frabko's bike.

 A warm body to fill a grid  spot. DFL.

No one wants to ride that bike and we get to listen to him complain so that should be fun. 

Yamaha has managed to piss away golden opputunities over the past 10 years.

Honda realized they had a horse and road that B8tch into the ground but won a ton!

Looking forward to see him back in action. I really thought it had already been announced that Franco was on the factory team next year, but I guess I imagined it?

Raul Fernandez to Tech 3 along w Gardner is getting wrapped up now as per someone in KTM slipping it out before they should apparently. 

Orange has a STRONG rider lineup!

Razali (Aqua brass) told Matt Birt this week that Morbidelli is going to Factory Yamaha, and that they are not looking at older riders nor Superbike riders, they are focused on young top 10 Moto2 riders. "Still waiting" on VR46, and Razali is clear that they do not want to repeat Vale "struggling for points."

They didn't want Rossi in the first place, you could tell when Razali was talking about the possibility of the move...

I'm guessing that Cal will be on the same spec bike that Morbidelli rides as he's a replacement rider. Don't think he's ridden a Yamaha since the start of the season which if i'm right seems a bit daft considering Guintoli has ridden the Suzuki several times this season!

I didn't know wildcards could run any spec bike (he's going to ride a 22 spec according to 'shrink), I thought they had to run current spec?

Test riders doing Wildcards can run development bikes. Some cool stuff is regularly run by Pirro, Bradl et al. It is a Test extension. But replacement rides can't apparently. Haven't read the actual rulebook, and please correct me if wrong as usual.


Anyone else notice that the expected Summer Break announcements didn't happen? Not very silly. 

Young emerging talent from Moto2, narrow pool, are the focus lately. The old guys are slow to move their pieces. Zip happening. Just waiting for Vale to finally call it on hanging up the leathers, seems it is a matter of suitable fanfare and a grand hurrah with lots of accoutrements. Which Round is that then? Italy?!

No surprises looking in store for us. Just patience. strong and Alienesque is Marc in a week? How does Quartararo do in the first few Rounds where his bike isn't favored (just fine thanks)? Does Zarco have another step in pocket (no)? Is Jack or Oliveira coming forward now (Oliveira should be)? Mir and the Suzuki, can they get a bit more now? I say yes. Shape shifter and start device in pipeline, plus a few bits adding up to a few 10ths...Mir is coming. Yeah? No?

I think Prince Bone Saw will be the one deciding on Rossi's future more than Vale himself. The pressure is definitely on and with Uccio's recent comments "He doesn't want to finish like this" and GPONE reporting that The "Prince" will be opening the palace doors to Rossi for a (virtual) audience in a few days, who knows which way it goes. Rossi needs to retire, this can't drag on any longer. The ego is an amazing motivator, but insanity can be as well.

MM? Did you see him on that CBR600 this week? Crikey! He's coming back strong for sure.

It seems to me that Vale having sold himself is now owned by the buyer. With dire consequences for insubordination. The devil is in more than the details in this situation. Sheik Ambush Dismemberment has said he wants Vale to race, so Vale will race. Ultra-sad if I'm even remotely correct.

How long is 5 weeks usually? I can't remember but it doesn't seem as though it's ever been this long. MM and AR42 better be ready for battle in the second half and get me some points. I feel good about it. Jorge Martin is the one to watch. He's the Martinator and woe betide anyone who forgets that. Mir, oh my Mir, will you get that one lap pace that is your only flaw. Mr. Consistent will be right there till the end. Suzuki, will you please catch up with the rest on launch controls? If we must have them. I would like to see the front and rear lowering devices, which have becoming raising devices for corners now, banned forthwith. DORNA've taken away cornering GPS, the bespoke black boxes and special tires and given the control back to the pilots where it belongs. If someone can't figure how to launch,,,(cough, mav, cough)'s their disadvantage. Why punish the good launchers? Can. Not. Wait. Until. Next. Weekend.

Five long weeks.

Five weeks is like a long and winding road. Seems really long the first time riding it. second time through still seems very long. After a few runs & learning some landmarks it doesn't feel quite so endless. Once experienced several times it isn't as long. Been through several in my time of motorcycle racing addiction.

As the passenger, just waiting for it to be over, I distract myself. Look over there SBK is racing! Wow MotoAmerica! BSB is on. I could do my tax while waiting. Think about riding somewhere else? Not allowed to go to Phillip Island for a track day, crikey!

Are we there yet?

Hey Brian ^ ...not going to COTA this season after all because the Delta variant is about to punch us in the nuts. Bummed out, but right thing for me. Sorry mate!


I'm not going anywhere either unless things improve bigly. I'm in the hot spot but I got the Moderna 2nd shot end of May so feeling ok. A shame not to go but maybe next year. Gonna be a great 2nd half. Well, if Fabio comes back to earth. Cheers mate! 

We are almost there and what a 2nd half, eh? Ya, there are other series but, you know, there's no frisson quite like what a Motogp weekend provides.

...with your witty comments Brian. As for banning front and rear lowering devices, the Pan America I test rode in Sonoma last week has that technology!    laugh

How did you like the Pan America? That lowering device is genius. Opens adventure bikes to masses more people. 

Several days still until racing starts so why not hijack this Crutchlow thread...

-Using the phrases "Harley Davidson" and "cutting edge technology" in the same sentence makes me feel that I am living in an alternate universe.

-Very good engine, distinct ride modes, happy with the ergonomics, kinda heavy, but definitely competitive with the GS, Multistrada (one of my two bikes, 2017), and other ADV's.

-The lowering I referenced is subtle, but probably helpful (me: 5'10", 31 inch inseam) for shorter people. Could be bad in slow off road situations, since suspension travel will suddenly be reduced, but really, who rides ADV's off-road?

-Has a weird kickstand design that will cause tip-overs daily IMHO.

-Ugly as sin, echoing HD cruiser styling in the front while still looking like a big lump.


Baggers, electric, whatever.

I love racing.

Want to see something really crazy? Google columbian street racing. Small two strokes tearing ass through alleys with mattresses covering telephone poles! Love it !

No need for RD to look for track limits infractions here. Self-enforcing. Fun vid. TY

Just so we don't stray from our roots, the Sept 1983 San Marino/Imola GP. The following Summer I get a first Honda Cub step through. Elbow room only grid and a bump start.

Crossed up butts out on lousy touring tires. 130hp and 3000RPM power bands. Track limits suitable for golf fairways. No-touch curbs. New knee "abrasion pads." Huge gaps between bikes. Backmarker lappers at a third of the way through the race. One English commentator sounding like grade 7 science class films. Lap times closer to Moto3 than anything else.

21 yr old Spencer, Kenny Roberts, and a supporting cast of familiar characters (Lawson, Sheene, Haslam, Mamola). 31 yr old Roberts carves through traffic masterfully to reel in Spencer. 

And? Still looks great.


22 mins

I was at that race.

Riding around southern Europe on my bicycle and catching races (GPs, endurance and even hill-climbs) here and there. Ran into Barry Sheene and his wife one evening on the streets of the town, window-shopping jewellery. They were both very pleasant and normal (apart from that).


Oi - dont mock Murray Walker - here in the the UK he is considered a national treasure. He loved his bikes and was often see at BSB rounds. His mistakes made him. I really miss him. 

Glutton for more?

1984 Full Silverstone Cinco Cinco race. Watching now. You can smell the delish 2 Stroke smoke, but can get a concussion just thinking about going down in these helmets, so be cautious.

Very different riding style between (injured) Mamola and Lawson. Honda and Yamaha quite opposed in DNA. Lawson's lines are GORGEOUS, and he is incapable of flinching. This Honda is a weird arse Britten esque Buell like jalope. One rider qualified on tires that were already used take-offs from Gardner.

A few 4 strokes are out smelling underwhelming. New radial rear tires on a few of the works bikes! Hay bales need no inflation, and leathers need no armor. As much as 160mph, and English riders get FULL commentator appreciation! Others may get noticed. Unusually large close front group for this era. Love it!

Love that bump start!

My first international road race was Laguna Seca 1988. I had attended east coast AMA nationals, mostly Loudon and Pocono, but when I heard that the gp was returning to the U.S. I convinced my spouse that we and our 1 year old should visit her sister in Marin.

Saturday I head down to LS, first time in my life, creeping along in traffic in my econobox rental behind a huge black Mercedes, looking for parking. These Californians sure were friendly, waving, smiling and hollering! As the dirt road took a left turn I saw the driver in front of me and all became clear. I was right on Eddie Lawson's tail at the Laguna Seca gp!

Sunday, April heat wave, 100,000 fans, we parked ourselves above T2 where much of the passing took place. Schwantz, Rainey, Baldwin, Gardner, Chili, Mamola, and Lawson for the win. Pay close attention to Gardner on the #1 Honda, two tires never pointing in the same direction, what a beast!  


Fun race, thanks! 

Seems three great spots to sit for Laguna races: that overlooking T2 shows alot of what is going on. Also between T9 and T10, either inside or up above in the camping mayhem. And how can you NOT spend a little while by the tree at the bottom of the Corkscrew?


Running a race bike around that noodling gem is a lifetime highlight. No need to say more.

Were you on hand for the GP return in 2005? That was fun. Stoner impressed first visit on the LCR Honda. That track takes skill AND balls.

No, didn't make 2005, but I was home wishing I did! Thanks for the vid. In 2008 I took a job that required lots of travel, and--in a series of miraculous coincidences--I happened to be traveling for work to the bay area for almost every gp and WSBK at Laguna. I then moved to norcal in 2014...

My strategy was to hang around the paddock and start/finish for the start, then sprint up to the corkscrew, and then, as you mentioned, see the end from inside T10. Selfish, but the loss of both champioships at LS does make me sad, what a great spectator track.

Yes, I've done track days at LS, what a wonderful racetrack. Me and my RC-51 are lifetime B- track day participants, and I still have not figured out the slow corners, i.e., T2 and corkscrew, but it is my favorite.

Time to stop babbling. Jonesing for racing--I promise to be more disciplined once the checkered flag comes out this weekend!

Thanks for the videos all.

Columbian back alley track is better than no racing. Properly deadly!

I've had a search but couldn't find the Arai 500 from 1988. Mick Doohan made the lap record holder at Bathurst look slow! There are a few on the tube. This is a shorter vid, nice introduction if you don't know Mount Panorama circuit. Where we did the Australian motorcycle Gp before Phillip island was rebuilt. The track is the star of the show. Seven minutes of history