Cal Crutchlow has revealed that he was asked by Yamaha to step up to MotoGP with Tech 3 in the game of musical chairs that has ensued since Valentino Rossi's leg-breaking accident at Mugello earlier this month – but he turned the offer down in order to concentrate on his World Superbike Championship challenge and put his career first.
There has been intense speculation since 'The Doctor' was ruled out-of-action for an indeterminate period in the wake of his fall during practice for his home grand prix in Italy, with no official news yet as to who is to replace him. Current Tech 3 duo Ben Spies and Colin Edwards have been most strongly linked to taking Rossi's place, which would therefore leave an opening at the satellite squad – and the whisper in the paddocks was that Yamaha WSBK ace Crutchlow was in-line to stake his claim.
Speaking to Crash.net
, however, the highly-rated young British star has confirmed that he was indeed approached about making his premier class bow with Tech 3, but whilst acknowledging that it was 'a massive honour', he has maturely elected to retain his focus on his burgeoning World Superbike season.
“I got offered the Tech 3 ride by Yamaha,” the 24-year-old stated, “but we decided internally between me, Lin [Jarvis – Yamaha motor racing managing director], Hervé Poncharal (Tech 3 boss) and Yamaha not to do it. Yamaha wanted me to do it, Hervé wanted me to do it and I wanted to do it and my first initial thought was that it would be great, but it would have been a big ask, a big challenge and a big step.
“It would have been difficult to do six weekends of racing back-to-back and keep jumping from one bike to another – and the differences in machinery are incredible. I've never ridden a GP bike, never ridden a Yamaha 800cc, never ridden carbon discs and never been to the three circuits they wanted me to do – and I would have had no testing beforehand because there was no time in-between the races.
“For me to jump on the bike in Friday practice and learn everything within 45 minutes just wasn't going to work, plus there would have been the safety aspect of changing between Pirelli (WSBK) and Bridgestone (MotoGP) tyres every time. I'm always up for a challenge, but I didn't want to go in there and do Yamaha or myself an injustice and not get competitive results.”
Having decided to stay put, Crutchlow is now eagerly anticipating the remaining seven outings on the 2010 World Superbike Championship calendar, beginning in just over a week's time at Misano, where he demonstrated scintillating form to top the timesheets during testing earlier this week. Adamant that ninth spot in the title standings is not representative of his true performance level during his 'rookie' WSBK season, the reigning World Supersport Champion is optimistic about his prospects looking ahead to the future, both short-term and long.
“I'm not going to give up my World Superbike Championship campaign,” he asserted. “That's what I was employed to do and I want to respect the team and keep giving 100 per cent for them. I want to finish the year off here, and it was not feasible for me to keep changing [bikes]. I did a good job for Yamaha last year, and this year is going well too – our championship position at the moment doesn't reflect where we should be or our pace. We've had a few mechanical failures; at Monza I lost 20 or 25 points and we lost another top five finish at Assen, so we could potentially have been third or fourth in the championship now.
“This was one of the biggest decisions of my career, but I had to be sensible and Yamaha respect my decision – and I think it will lead to bigger things in the future for me and Yamaha. In some ways it was the best position I've ever been in, being asked to stand in because my hero has been injured. For me that was a massive honour. To have to turn it down was such a disappointment, but I've got my career to think about and I think I've made a good career choice.”