Cal Crutchlow has emphatically denied rumours that he is set to replace Dani Pedrosa in the Repsol Honda squad, dismissing them as “just media stuff that shouldn't have been written.”
HRC communications manager Livio Suppo, who was also present at Crutchlow's debrief, also poured cold water on the idea, and insisted that the injured Pedrosa “is doing everything” he can to compete at the final round of the season at Valencia.
Soon after winning his second race at Phillip Island in the past six outings, Crutchlow had spoken of his hopes of receiving a greater deal of factory support from HRC in 2017.
He also expressed a mild degree of displeasure that no senior member of HRC was present at the post-race press conference in Australia, stating “It's disappointing to win a race and not see the boss [here], because if you were in another factory they would be.”
But Crutchlow was keen to pour cold water on the Speedweek
report, which touted him to replace Pedrosa should the Spaniard call time on a 16-year career in GPs at the end of 2016.
“I brought my solicitor with me,” he quipped, referring to Suppo's presence outside the LCR Honda office in Sepang on Friday afternoon.
“The rumour is completely not true. [The journalist] says he knows some team manager that suddenly knows some information. But his team manager is probably someone in Moto3 or something like that. It's typical stuff.
“Like I said when Dani did crash, it's disappointing that people jump to conclusions. They start sending you messages, tweets, whatever it is that say I'm going to be on the bike at the next race before his feet have landed on the floor, before the helicopter has even taken him out of the circuit.
“One, it's disrespectful to the riders. And two, it's never in my plan, or in Livio's plan as such. If it is it will be discussed internally and then we take it from there.
“In the end, Dani is not retiring. That is sure. A broken collarbone is a broken collarbone. People break collarbones all the time. It's not like a really threatening injury, luckily. It's just media stuff that shouldn't have been written.”
Speaking to Crash.net
afterwards, Suppo was visibly angered by the report, and explained that, while there is no guarantee that Pedrosa will be fully recovered for Valencia, the Spaniard is “working hard” to be fit and ready to compete in the final race of 2016.
“There should be no need to comment on these kinds of things,” said Suppo. “I'm really sorry sometimes journalists write totally wrong information. It's not the first time it has happened this year. With Dani, with Honda, with me, with Nakamoto. Honestly.
“Dani is working hard to be able to be back in Valencia – at the moment we are still not sure because he still has some days, a couple of weeks to see if he can do it or not. Hopefully he will. For sure he wants [to race there]. For sure he's trying his best to be back on the bike at Valencia, and to do the test the week after.
“It seems to me he's quite optimistic. But of course you cannot be sure. I see him very motivated. When you speak with him you feel it. Of course I didn't see him but Dani on the phone seemed to be quite positive.”
The rumours also led Pedrosa to clarify his current position on Twitter. Today the Spaniard wrote, “Recently, some journalists wrote that they heard rumors about me retiring. These news are groundless and I can't wait to be back on track!”
By Neil Morrison