Cal Crutchlow has stated that “everything looks positive” for Lucio Cecchinello's LCR team to stay with Honda machinery for 2017, with the Englishman even adding that he and the Italian also “negotiating a new, complete contract for 2018.”
The pre-event press conference at Assen was the scene of Crutchlow's announcement that he and Cecchinello would exercise the option is his current contract to ride for the team in 2017.
Although it has still be confirmed what machinery the satellite squad will use in Crutchlow's third year with the team, the Englishman said, “I have to say at the moment everything looks positive to stay with Honda.
“I think that's in the best interests of us all, but still I'm sure Lucio is speaking with some other manufacturers. But that's not in my control. All I know is I'll be riding for Lucio next year. I can't really give you any other details,” Crutchlow told a small group of British media after the press conference.
With Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio saying it would be extremely difficult for the Japanese factory to provide machinery to satellite teams in 2017, it appears Crutchlow will stay continue with bikes supplied by HRC.
He continued, “I honestly think the Suzuki would suit my style more than the Honda at the moment. Who's to say the Honda isn't going to change? For me to change manufacturer again for next year… I don't need to do it. I've been with other manufacturers. Sure, I haven't been with Suzuki but having the continuity with the manufacturer and team means I'm going to be very strong.
“If you look at my last year with Tech 3 [in 2013] that was a good year once I decided to stay. We'll see. At the end of the day Honda are not sitting back and doing nothing. They're trying to work on the bike for this year and next. I have full commitment to them and that project. We'll see.
“We're a satellite time. I know Lucio is looking to do a long-term agreement with Honda. Maybe that will bode more in our favour. At the moment we need the parts that they've [the factory Repsol Honda riders] got. That's for sure. The last couple of races they've been strong in that area. It doesn't look like we'll get them so soon but I'm hoping sooner rather than later.
“I think my input to Honda is very useful to them and bodes well in my relationship with them. It's very favourable to me as well. I hope it does but it's down to Lucio. If Lucio doesn't have the contract that he's expecting then maybe we'll look at something different.”
Crutchlow's future was the subject of intense speculation for many rounds, with rumours suggesting he had spoken with Tech 3 Yamaha, Repsol Honda and others about the possibility of a move away from the satellite squad.
Despite admitting there was a chance to replace Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, had the Spaniard moved away from the team, the 30-year old was adamant the option was always there to stay, suggesting this outcome was always the likeliest option.
“We had an agreement from when I announced I'd re-signed for LCR [in the summer of 2015],” said Crutchlow after the press conference on Thursday. “If you look at the press release it said '2016 and 2017'. So there was no announcement to make. I was already signed for two years and now we are negotiating a new complete contract for 2018. It looks very strong that that's what will happen.
“Honestly, my saying that I'm staying here is not an announcement. I already had a contract. There was nothing about taking my mind off it [the job at hand]. I already had a contract. Lucio had some clauses in it and I had some clauses. At no point did I turn round and say I'm not riding the bike next year. I already had the contract. It's as simple as that.
“Sure, at one point, it was looking difficult with Honda and the way things are going. The bike is quite difficult to ride. It's Lucio's decision also to do what he wants to do. Of course I was speaking with Livio [Suppo] about whether Dani is going to leave.
“I think I was the first choice for them to go there. But that made no difference to my life. I was still going to be riding a Honda. In the end it was out of my hands. As I already said I was happy in my team but I would have been able to fill a place if someone [Pedrosa] was going to leave because there was no one else to put on it.”
Replying to a question on how long he feels he can continue racing at the highest level of motorcycle racing, Crutchlow said, “I still have the fire.
“Maybe next week I'll wake up with no fire. I've always said the same thing – if I don't enjoy it anymore and I don't want to get up and out of bed and race a motorbike, I won't. I've got plenty of money to sit on the beach and be happy for the rest of my life. I've got investments. I've got a couple of businesses going on. But I want to race.
“I don't know what it is. You see Valentino. He doesn't need to be coming here, that's for sure. Nicky Hayden doesn't need to be racing in World Superbike. They do it because they love it. I think most racers in this paddock are the same. Most retire because they either didn't get a job or they're injured. They don't retire because they don't want to race anymore.
“I've made some fantastic contracts in my time. I've got a fantastic contract and riding in the best championship in the world is fantastic to do. The only thing that feels different about being older is my body hurts more. At the end of the day I still do everything to come to a race meeting. The day I don't want to do that, I'll stop.”