Crutchlow signs two-year HRC deal to stay at LCR

Cal Crutchlow secures two-year deal with HRC, to stay at LCR Honda, becomes first MotoGP rider in place for 2019.
Crutchlow, Catalunya MotoGP 2017
Crutchlow, Catalunya MotoGP 2017
© Gold and Goose

Cal Crutchlow will remain at LCR Honda for at least the next two MotoGP seasons.

However, in a change from his previous three years at Lucio Cecchinello's team, the double MotoGP race winner will now be contracted directly to HRC.

The new agreement also makes Crutchlow the first rider to be signed for the 2019 World Championship. The official Repsol Honda line-up of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, like all current factory riders (performance clauses aside), have contracts that expire at the end of 2018.

Since switching to LCR Honda in 2015, Crutchlow has taken two MotoGP victories, two second places and two third places.

"I am very happy to confirm that I will be riding for HRC with the LCR Team again for two more seasons," Crutchlow said. "We have worked extremely hard over the last three seasons together and I am positive that we will enjoy more great results together.

"I would like to thank HRC for the great support they offer me and our team, and I look forward to giving my hundred percent to this project as always."

Today's announcement also confirms that the LCR team will continue its partnership with Honda until at least the end of 2019, ending any speculation of a change in manufacturer.

"Cal is undoubtedly one of the most competitive and talented riders in MotoGP, and thanks to HRC's support, we are honoured to work with him again for the next two years," Cecchinello said. "Cal gave us our first ever victory in the premier class of MotoGP and further important results. I want to thank all those who worked and supported this project so far, first and foremost HRC."

HRC's general manager of race operations Tetsuhiro Kuwata confirmed that the Crutchlow-Honda-LCR relationship has been 'elevated'.

"We're very happy to continue working with the LCR Team and with Cal for the next two seasons," Kuwata said. "We really appreciate the work they're doing, and we decided to confirm our relationship and even elevate it by having Cal under contract directly with HRC. We wish Cal and Lucio all the best for the remainder of this season and those to come!"

Crutchlow is known to have been pursuing such a 'factory contract' since April, with Honda perhaps prompted to conclude negotiations swiftly following recent rumours of factory vacancies at Suzuki and Aprilia.

Crutchlow would have been a prime candidate for any such seats given his mix of success and experience. The 31-year-old has claimed MotoGP podiums on three different brands of bike - Yamaha, Ducati and Honda - in addition to his historic 2016 wins.

HRC team manager Livio Suppo also recently highlighted that Crutchlow is the only current Honda rider to have raced another brand of MotoGP bike and as such plays an important role in development.

That would have made it would be harder for Honda to let Crutchlow go, but - without knowing the content of the contract - exactly what practical difference the move to a direct HRC deal will make is unclear.

Crutchlow's development input means he is already running a machine spec comparable to the official Repsol team of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Meanwhile Jack Miller, on a HRC contract at Marc VDS, is lower down the new-parts pipeline.

Currently LCR's only rider, Crutchlow is tipped to have a team-mate next season in the form of Moto2 race winner Takaaki Nakagami, running an IDEMITSU-backed bike.

By Peter McLaren

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