Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team manager Herve Poncharal has paid tribute to outgoing MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow, following the British star's two-year deal to join the factory Ducati team.
Poncharal hailed the Coventry star as a 'special man and a special rider' and said he was sad Crutchlow was moving to pastures new at the end of this season.
Crutchlow has been with Tech 3 since his rookie 2011 season.
“Cal has been fantastic with the whole team and we have had some great times. Cal is not only a Tech 3 rider but Cal is a Tech 3 member and there is a big difference and we will all miss that and that is going to be a big disappointment,” he said.
“Cal is a very special man and a very special rider for me. It doesn't matter where he is going because in our hearts he will always be a Tech 3 rider.
“What we have experienced together has been something really great, really exciting and unforgettable and I think Tech 3 owes a lot to Cal in terms of what he gave us with results but also media coverage,” added Poncharal.
“And he gave a lot of excitement to the whole team. I think that Cal and Tech 3 was a really good match and he feels part of the Tech 3 family. I am very sad to lose him.”
Crutchlow's Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate, series rookie Bradley Smith, said he believed the 27-year-old is the right man to spark a turnaround in Ducati's fortunes.
“If anybody is going to make the Ducati work it will be Cal and I'm convinced he will do a great job for them. He's been an inspiration to me in my rookie season.
"His move means I will remain with Tech 3 next year, which is brilliant not that I really thought I would be leaving,” said Smith.
“My job in the second half of the season is to close down that finishing gap to the leaders which I'd started to achieve in the last couple of races.”
Crutchlow is currently fifth in the championship standings, just one point factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.
He has finished on the podium four times this season as he edges ever closer to challenging for a maiden MotoGP victory.