Can you see any of the present World Superbike riders switching to MotoGP?

That was the question put to Cal Crutchlow, one of the few to have successfully made the transition, on Friday afternoon at the French MotoGP.

The Englishman won the 2009 World Supersport title, then took three wins as a rookie in WSBK before heading straight to MotoGP. Crutchlow has gone on to claim eight podiums - on Yamaha, Ducati and Honda machinery - plus two pole positions.

"Van der Mark? Can't see it happening. There's no space for him, unfortunately," Crutchlow began. "I do think he's a good rider, but is he fast enough to be in Grand Prix and be another person that Honda bring in? I don't know. And the other manufacturers here are not going to take a risk and bring him in.

"I always wished that more Superbike riders would come over. Like Johnny [Rea], like Tom [Sykes].

"Chaz? Chaz I want to come over. I want him to go to Pramac; keep his Ducati deal that he has now and put him in Pramac. I'd really like to see that. But the likelihood of it happening is very very unlikely. There'd be nothing to lose. If he doesn't enjoy it or he doesn't do a really good job, he can go back to the factory in Superbikes again. But this is just me thinking, when I'm at home watching the [WSBK] races.

"I could see the [WSBK] guys coming over five years ago, but none of them did. Eugene [Laverty] I think has done a good job coming over now. But it shows how difficult it is when you're not on the best equipment, as it's difficult for many of us. Not just Superbike guys, could be anyone. There's Jack and Tito, a Moto2 world champion and a kid that I would say is one of the fastest guys on the grid, and they're struggling. It's not easy here at the moment.

"I do believe that the front three or four guys in Superbike have the speed to be here, like I've said. But the likelihood of it happening? I don't know."

In terms of whether this year's change from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres, plus new unified ECU, would make the transition easier Crutchlow said:

"The electronics in Superbikes are better than the electronics we have here. They'd be going a step back. Maybe it would make it a little bit more difficult, actually... Obviously it was new for all of us with the Michelin [tyres] this year and if they come next year, we'll have had a year on the tyre already."

Like most of the MotoGP grid, LCR Honda rider Crutchlow is waiting for several key seats to be decided before he can confirm his own 2017 MotoGP plans.

Most notable is if Maverick Vinales will stay at Suzuki or move to Yamaha in place of departing world champion Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo is joining Ducati, but the factory is yet to decide which of its present riders - Andrea Dovizioso or Andrea Iannone - will be team-mate to the Spaniard.

"I would choose Dovi and I think it will be Dovi," Crutchlow said. "I just think he's a better back up rider than Iannone. Don't take that I'm being derogatory to Dovi to say back up rider, he's still there to fight and win races, for sure.

"But [Ducati] have obviously put their eggs in Jorge's basket or they would have paid the same amount of money to Dovi as they do to Lorenzo. If there's not a number one and number two rider it would be on equal [financial] terms. Which I think is pretty much the case with the two guys they have [now].

"Honestly, I don't know how the whole Jorge [to Ducati] thing is going to play out. I don't know if he's going to take his time like everyone else to be able to get up to speed with the bike. Maybe that will be the case, and maybe Dovi will be a bit faster."

Meanwhile, Crutchlow was quick to quash rumours from Imola last weekend, which suggested he might consider a return to WSBK.

"I will not be going back to World Superbikes... It's the same as the rumour that [Alex] Lowes is going to sign for Tech 3. Which is like hitting the moon with a snowball. No disrespect, but it's not going to happen. And am I going to go there? No."

Kawasaki's defending champion Jonathan Rea currently leads the World Superbike standings by 35 points over Ducati star Davies, who claimed his second double win of the season at Imola.

Former champion Tom Sykes is third with Michael van der Mark the top Honda rider in fourth. The young Dutchman's team-mate and former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden holds seventh after 5 of 13 rounds.

By Peter McLaren

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