HRC team principal Livio Suppo is hopeful both Cal Crutchlow (LCR) and Jack Miller (Marc VDS) will continue with Honda for MotoGP 2018.

While the factory Repsol team has reigning champion Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa signed-up until the end of next season, the three satellite RCV rides are up for grabs.

A double winner for LCR last season, third in Argentina this year and a significant part of Honda's testing programme, Crutchlow's renewal seems a formality - although the Englishman is thought to be pursuing a multi-year HRC contract and has hinted at possible factory vacancies elsewhere.

"For sure Cal is a good rider and we like him," Suppo said. "He does a good job with us and he's the only rider we have with experience of another bike except Honda - the others have only been in MotoGP with Honda.

"We involve him in development and some new parts, so we are happy with him and hopefully he will continue with Lucio... In Jerez, without the crash for Cal, it might have been a Honda 1-2-3."

Fellow 2016 (wet) race winner Miller is reaching the end of a three-year HRC contract, the last two seasons of which he has been placed at Marc VDS. The young Australian has a best finish of eighth (twice) so far this year.

Suppo indicated that upward progress by the former Moto3 title contender will be the main factor in extending his deal.

"Jack's plan was always for three years. He needs to show that he has made a step and so far this season he has done a good job," Suppo said. "This weekend has been a disaster and forgetting about the [front tyre] problem we had he was always struggling a lot.

"I don't know if his hand is worse than he says [from the Le Mans accident] or the lack of the test in Barcelona with the new hard front made a difference, but he needs to forget this weekend quickly and come back to where he was before.

"If he keeps showing good performance and an upward curve then we would really like to see him on a Honda next year."

Should Miller remain, paddock rumours suggest he could have a new team-mate in the form of Marc VDS Moto2 title leader Franco Morbidelli. Morbidelli is thought to have a deal in place, but also the option to join another MotoGP team if he is offered a factory contract.

A Marc VDS seat would be at the expense of Tito Rabat, who could find a place with other satellite MotoGP teams (there is talk of one of the Ducati teams) or even WorldSBK, should the Moto2 champion decline a return to the intermediate class.

Crutchlow may also have a team-mate, with HRC tipped to supply LCR with an additional machine for Honda Team Asia Moto2 star Takaaki Nakagami, possibly backed by IDEMITSU.

"I think Naka is showing good performance in a class that we know is not easy," Suppo said. "We will see, but he is one of the riders in Moto2 that [looks ready for MotoGP], why not?"

Crutchlow is the leading satellite Honda rider in the world championship, albeit only in tenth after three DNFs in the six races, including being taken out by Pedrosa at Mugello on Sunday.

Miller is twelfth in the standings, his only DNF being at the hands of Alvaro Bautista in Jerez.

By Peter McLaren

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