Honda courting Cal Crutchlow for WorldSBK return after MotoGP exit?

Cal Crutchlow dismisses the idea of moving to the WorldSBK Championship but that hasn't stopped Team HRC Honda from trying to lure the MotoGP race winner

Cal Crutchlow - LCR Honda 1200

HRC boss Alberto Puig says he will keep a space in the team’s WorldSBK operation open to Cal Crutchlow if he has a change of heart over whether to join the series in 2021.

As anticipated, Crutchlow was this week all-but-confirmed to be on his way out of the LCR Honda team at the end of the season to make way for Alex Marquez, who in turn has been reshuffled for the incoming Pol Espargaro at Repsol Honda.

At this late stage in the so-called ‘silly season’, Crutchlow’s options in MotoGP are relatively thin with all but one of the potential four seats sitting with Ducati, a manufacturer he is unlikely to reacquaint himself with after a fractious stint together in 2014.

That leaves him with Aprilia, though even the availability of that seat isn’t guaranteed as it will depend on Andrea Iannone’s appeal for his drugs ban.

It thus opens the possibility of Crutchlow looking towards a switch to WorldSBK where he competed with Yamaha ahead of his MotoGP move in 2010.

However, the man himself has so far dismissed the prospect of it happening, telling Bikesportsnews “I had options and I really appreciate it but although I think it’s a great series I won’t be racing there next season’.

That ‘option’ is believed to have come from Honda, who identified Crutchlow as a potential candidate to join its revived full factory WorldSBK effort alongside Alvaro Bautista.

Indeed, despite Crutchlow’s misgivings, Honda’s Puig admits the Briton remains a target for the team ahead of what it plans to be a full title tilt in 2021 with the new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

“As you know, Honda has a WorldSBK team and there’s always a chance for him if he wants to contemplate this option with the new bike,” he told the WorldSBK website. “Because also the target of Honda in the Championship of WorldSBK is try to get the title in the future. This is more or less what we believe.”

“Cal is a guy you never want to tell he has no ride. Cal did a fantastic job for Honda, fantastic job for LCR. He helped us develop the bikes but at the same time he has been winning races, making a lot of podiums and we can only thank the job he did for Honda and for the team.”