Cal Crutchlow says he could be forced to leave the Tech 3 Yamaha team at the end of the season to make room for Moto2 rider Pol Espargaro.
The British star told BBC Sport
that Yamaha has held talks with Spanish prospect Espargaro over a move to the satellite MotoGP team in 2014.
Crutchlow said he was informed of the interest in Espargaro by Tech 3 team owner Herve Poncharal.
“He told me that Yamaha are potentially going to sign Pol and [Tech 3] will have to take him for the first year,” the BBC quotes Crutchlow as saying.
“The rumour is that he's going to be getting a factory bike [at Tech 3] and doing a two-year deal with the Yamaha factory.”
Crutchlow's contract at Tech 3 expires at the end of this season, while rookie team-mate Bradley Smith is at the start of a two-year deal. Crutchlow is currently fifth in the championship standings and the leading privateer behind the factory Repsol Honda and Yamaha riders.
Espargaro finished as the runner-up in the Moto2 World Championship behind Marc Marquez last year and was initially linked to Tech 3 when Crutchlow held talks with Ducati over a possible move to the Italian factory team, which eventually went to Andrea Dovizioso.
In January, reports suggested Espargaro may have signed a letter of intent with Yamaha
, a strategy deployed by the manufacturer before they signed future MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Should Crutchlow leave Tech 3, his options for a 2014 factory team deal would appear to be as either a replacement for Nicky Hayden at Ducati - Hayden is the only factory rider whose current contract is due to end this season – or to join the planned Suzuki effort.