Lucio Cecchinello's aim is to continue with both Cal Crutchlow and Honda in MotoGP next season, despite having 'informal' talks with Suzuki's Davide Brivio about the possibility of switching manufacturers.

The Italian, whose LCR team has endured a difficult start to the year with Crutchlow scoring points in just one race from five, admitted "budget-wise, it's difficult" at present and he would speak to Honda at Mugello to understand the package it can offer going forward.

Only then would he entertain the possibility of "considering" talks with Suzuki, Cecchinello told Crash.net in Italy.

"We had been informed by Dorna - and Dorna informed other satellite teams - that Suzuki, as well as Aprilia, are interested in expanding their presence in MotoGP," the Italian said on Thursday. "Dorna would like us to consider the possibility to explore the situation, explore a potential collaboration with other manufacturers.

"At this moment I didn't talk with Suzuki. The only talk that I had was with [team manager] Davide Brivio at the Jerez test. It was very, very informal talking like, 'Yes Lucio, we - Suzuki - are interested in having more bikes on the grid.' My answer was very clear to Davide, and he can confirm to you, that my top priority is top continue with Honda, which is a manufacturer that I've worked with for 18 years, between my racing career and the period in which I've had my team we have had a long, historical collaboration.

"They have always supported us in a very constructive and positive way. I don't want to turn my back and just leave Honda. I told him I would consider only after I had first discussed with Honda the plan for 2017 and the future. In case I will not be satisfied I will contact them. But at the moment my clear plan is to continue with Cal and Honda in MotoGP.

"We will start to speak here in Mugello. It's just here that all the talking for the following season starts. Also [Shuhei] Nakamoto [HRC vice president] was not at the previous race. So we will start here."

After LCR's title sponsor CWM withdrew mid-way through 2015, Cecchinello could find no full-time replacement for the current year and the Italian admitted that he is finding it difficult to come up with the substantial sums of money required to complete a full grand prix season.

"I really hope to continue with Honda. I need to admit that at the moment budget wise it's difficult for us. So I'm really interested to see the ability of the Honda package for next year because I need to check if I can continue or not."

Rumours have circulated recently regarding the possibility of LCR ending its eleven-year association with HRC in MotoGP, as Suzuki explored the idea of increasing its number of machines on the grid for 2017.

However on Thursday, Suzuki's Brivio poured cold water on the idea, as he believes the Hamamatsu factory is "not ready" to increase its efforts from two to three (or even four) machines next year.

"We are not ready. To have more bikes on the grid is something that Suzuki wants to do," said Brivio. "We would like to have more bikes. We've been discussing also in Japan again about this, but it looks like difficult to start in 2017 this project.

"So now we see if we can do or not, and if this is not possible for 2017 we really have to start to work from now to be able to do it in 2018. Personally I think it would very useful to have more bikes on the grid for Suzuki. We can make more development, we can have more riders. It would be interesting. But in this moment for 2017 it seems to be difficult."

This poses an interesting question.

With Andrea Iannone's signing for Suzuki confirmed on Thursday and rumours circulating that Alex Rins is sought after to add a sprinkling of youth to the line-up, it appears unlikely reigning Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco will appear in the official squad.

This is despite Suzuki having "an option" with Zarco, who will compete for the factory in the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race in July.

"With Zarco, we say he have an option which we can use him next year," explained Brivio. "We can have him as a rider next year. We're going to test next month in Japan. We will test the MotoGP with him. So as I say nothing is decided about the other rider."

Cecchinello was one team owner to apply for MotoGP's 24th grid slot for 2017 but ultimately missed out. However, expanding his current line-up is something that he hasn't given up on when eyeing a year further along.

"I would really like to consider that in 2018 that I'm going to possibly have a two-rider team. We did have everything. We have a truck, the pit facilities, crates, tools and material. We have the experience to manage a two-rider team. We would like to go back to a two-rider team operation."

 

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