OFFICIAL: Cal Crutchlow to become Yamaha development rider for 2021 MotoGP

Cal Crutchlow will bring an end to his full-time MotoGP racing career in favour of a test role with Yamaha, one that could include wild-card outings

Yamaha has formally confirmed Cal Crutchlow will return to its fold for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season in a development role, taking over from Jorge Lorenzo.

After rumours in the run up to this weekend’s Valencia MotoGP, Crutchlow confirmed talks were at an advanced stage on Thursday before Yamaha delivered a formal announcement between Friday’s two practice sessions.

The deal will see Crutchlow assume Lorenzo’s briefly-held position in the team, the Spaniard parting ways with Yamaha after just a single season in the wake of limited testing opportunities.

Crutchlow’s switch to Yamaha colours in 2021 marks a return to the Iwata fold for the Coventry man after making his MotoGP debut on the Tech 3 satellite machine in 2011. He’d go on to compete for Ducati in 2014 before securing a Honda factory deal as part of the satellite LCR squad.

There he’d become Britain’s first premier class race winner in 37 years, a feat he’d repeat on three occasions with the Italian team. With two rounds of his full-time MotoGP career looming Crutchlow has also gone on to achieve 19 podiums and four pole positions. 

“Well, first and foremost I would like to say 'welcome back' to Cal,” commented  Yamaha Motor Racing Manager Director Lin Jarvis.

“I still remember Cal’s first visit to YMR many years ago as fresh World Supersport Champion and recall he expressed his desire to move onwards and upwards to MotoGP in the future. After the initial move to Superbikes, he then spent three seasons with us in the Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3 team before moving on to gain a further seven years of experience with two of our main competitors. 

“This wealth of experience, coupled with Cal’s honest no-nonsense approach, will surely benefit us greatly as we strive to improve our YZR-M1 bikes with a full testing programme next year.

"Of course, we had planned and hoped for a strong programme this year with Jorge. Unfortunately, our Factory Test Team soon had to put their plans on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic started and continued to influence 2020 from March onwards. 

“It’s regrettable that we have not been able to carry out our testing programme and realize our goals. We wish Jorge all the best in his future endeavours, and we thank him for his many years of collaboration with Yamaha.

The deal means Crutchlow will likely be back on the grid at some stage in 2021 taking part in selected wildcard outings, though Yamaha says it would only agree if it is ‘beneficial’ to the programme. 

The 2021 MotoGP season will also see Yamaha shake up its rider line-ups with Fabio Quartararo moving into the Factory set-up alongside Maverick Vinales, while Valentino Rossi sidesteps in the other direction to Petronas SRT alongside Franco Morbidelli.

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