Cal Crutchlow has hinted that, even at this early stage of the year, he is open to the possibility of changing bikes for the 2018 MotoGP season, while he mulls over an offer to stay in Lucio Cecchinello's LCR outfit.

In an interview with Crash.net, Crutchlow teased that his "next aim is to maybe try something" other than Honda machinery in the future, but, in the same breath, opined he is "very happy" in his current surroundings.

"I've shown that I can be fast with all the manufacturers," the Englishman said, two days before a typically resolute ride to third place in Argentina, his 13th premier class podium.

"My next aim is to maybe try something else. Or to maybe try something that I've been on before [either Yamaha or Ducati machinery]. But I'm very happy where I am. I'm out of contract at the moment [at the end of 2017], as we know. I have an offer to stay, sure."

Team boss Lucio Cecchinello confirmed the Englishman is currently considering an offer, which Crutchlow described as a 'long-term thing', to remain in his 'satellite' team.

However, it appears Crutchlow is keen to obtain a factory contract from HRC, rather than his current one which runs with the LCR squad until the end of this year. Talks have already been held with HRC top brass, including Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo, and ex-vice president Shuhei Nakamoto, on the matter.

"Without mentioning money, the most important thing for Cal is a contract with the manufacturer," Cecchinello told Crash.net in Argentina. "It's not like we don't have good treatment from HRC, but Cal wants to feel like he is making a step forward with Honda."

According to Cecchinello, a factory contract would be similar to those HRC offered to satellite riders, such as Daijiro Kato, Marco Melandri, Marco Simoncelli and Stefan Bradl in the past, and Jack Miller at present. Should his wish be granted, Crutchlow would stay in LCR colours, but with a more direct line to the factory.

"A factory contract would give assurances [to Honda] that Cal would be there for them," said the Italian team boss. "It would be good for all parties. But this is not a mandatory request," he stressed. "It's more like a wish. If this doesn't happen we will be happy to stay here."

One would assume Crutchlow's hopes were boosted by his showing in Argentina, a race in which he took the fight to the Movistar Yamahas of Maverick Vi?ales and Valentino Rossi, while Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa crashed out.

Yet the Englishman's earlier comments also hinted that Cecchinello may be another to explore options with other manufacturers for 2018. "I don't know what Honda's plans are," said Crutchlow. "I don't know what Lucio's plans are, with regards to whether he'll stay with Honda or not. I don't know.

"I would want a good bike and a good team [for 2018]. There are other good bikes and other good teams in the paddock. I like my team now, sure. If I'm talking about riding for another manufacturer, who's to say Lucio isn't going to be with another manufacturer? I would be interested in all options."

Cecchinello had conducted preliminary talks with Suzuki a year ago about the possibility of running a third GSX-RR in 2017. When asked about the chances of LCR switching manufacturers for next year, the Italian team boss could only offer a cryptic, "It's a very competitive market."

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