Cal Crutchlow is closing on a Yamaha MotoGP test deal for 2021

Cal Crutchlow reveals he is close to confirming a deal with Yamaha to replace Jorge Lorenzo as test rider for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season

Cal Crutchlow - LCR Honda

Cal Crutchlow has confirmed he is in advanced talks with Yamaha over rejoining the manufacturer for the 2021 MotoGP season as a test and development rider.

With only two races remaining before he bids farewell to Honda having been dropped from LCR’s line-up in favour of Alex Marquez in 2021, Crutchlow is on the cusp of replacing Jorge Lorenzo to become Yamaha’s test and reserve rider for next season.

The news comes after Crutchlow opted against pursuing a race ride with Aprilia having reportedly signed a pre-agreement in October on the proviso Andrea Iannone wasn’t cleared to race. Though that confirmation came this week, Crutchlow says Yamaha is now his preferred option.

"The truth is that I’m in quite advanced discussions with Yamaha and I think in the very near future we will come to an agreement we are both happy with," Crutchlow said.

"It is a project I would be very interested to do and it would suit me very well after this season with regards to my knowledge of MotoGP and my years in MotoGP and my speed.

"I informed Aprilia I did not want to do that project. I would not be following that any more."

After a race-winning rookie campaign with Yamaha in WorldSBK, the Briton made his MotoGP debut with the manufacturer in 2011, going on to spend three seasons with the Tech 3 satellite team. He’d go on to gravitate to Ducati and then to Honda, where he has raced with LCR since 2015.

Since then Crutchlow has assured his legacy by becoming the first Briton since Barry Sheene in 37 years to win a premier class race, a feat he repeated on three occasions at a time when satellite team victories were far fewer than they are now.

Is this the right deal for Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha?

While few will deny Andrea Dovizioso was likely Yamaha’s first choice as a test rider, Crutchlow’s signing would arguably be more beneficial for the manufacturer.

The Briton remains fired up to bring his talents to his project and while 2020 has been a nadir for him in results terms, he has finished top ten overall in seven MotoGP seasons.

The deal would give Crutchlow a chance to make selected race appearances in 2021 as a wildcard, while Yamaha would likely benefit more greatly from his experience than Lorenzo, whose high-profile return in 2020 was nixed by limited running and apparent misgivings about his fitness and motivation, areas that are in no doubt two of Crutchlow’s strengths.

With Yamaha riders crying out for a more competitive test rider to help drive stalling development on the M1, Maverick Vinales coined it rather exquisitely when he said Crutchlow isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and that is exactly what the manufacturer needs right now...