Cal Crutchlow has branded Aprilia’s treatment of rider Sam Lowes “a disgrace” in the wake of news that the former World Supersport champion does not feature in the Italian factory’s MotoGP plans for 2018.

A fellow Isle of Man resident, Crutchlow has become good friends with Lowes in recent months, and claims to know of most of the behind-the-scenes issues of a troubled relationship that have been ongoing from the beginning of this year.

Crutchlow feels the decision to drop Lowes at the end of his debut season in the class stems from recent results not reflecting the ever-improving potential of the RS-GP, a machine that has unquestionably made strides this year.

A winner of two MotoGP races, Crutchlow was also critical of the decision to place Scott Redding in the Aprilia garage in ’18, “a guy" in his eyes, "that is absolutely not better than Sam. That is absolutely sure.”

“I think it's a disgrace,” came Crutchlow’s response when asked of the situation. “At the end of the day, there's no other way to put it. What did they expect him to do in his first year in MotoGP on a package that's not, like, a Yamaha?

“Give him time, and he's going to go a lot better next year. It's his first time at most of the tracks on a MotoGP bike, and if I look at my first year on a MotoGP bike compared to that, mine was probably even worse.

“We know that they've treated him like crap, we know that the bike hasn't started in most of the sessions, the crew chief is not very good... There's probably a hundred reasons why, and then all they've done is demoralise him more and more and more every time.

“I think that that team, they're panicking that they have a good bike, and they do have a good bike, and they're not getting the result they fully expect. And at the end of the day, you can't expect Sam to suddenly get them. He's not doing a bad job. Honestly, you can't imagine how many times he's sat in the garage this year, in a 45-minute session.

“Obviously I'm disappointed for him, but in a way, I'm also pleased for him that he's got himself out of the shit. That he doesn't have to think every weekend that he has to prove himself, that he has to do this or do that, or there's someone in his ear putting pressure on, or someone not even in his ear, because they've just left him for the past races.

“And then they're putting a guy on it that is absolutely not better than Sam, that is absolutely sure. Someone who has had many, many chances. That's my personal opinion, but it's also the truth. Look at the sheer facts, and it's the truth.

"The less risky option they've gone for, how many top tens has he got this year? How many times has he finished in the points? At the Sachsenring he says what he says every time, he's got no rear tire. Next test, he's fixed it. I don't think Redding is a less risky option than Sam, and I think you have to give Sam some time. So I think the situation was really bad, and I think the person they've chosen over Sam is no improvement."

Earlier in the year, Crutchlow made no secret of Aprilia’s advances to tempt him from the LCR Honda team for '18. Asked whether that approach had come earlier than June, when it was first reported the factory was seeking an alternative to Lowes, Crutchlow said, “They were speaking to me before June, sure.

“But I didn't know who it was for, I didn't know who was going to be riding and who was not going to be riding, I didn't know if they had another plan for Sam, and I had a job. And I wasn't going to be taking his job, that is sure.

“Because I had a two-year contract on the table, as you know, I had a very good contract on the table, I was happy with Honda, and I wasn't going to take a contract off the guy who is also my friend. And I didn't need to, when I thoroughly believed he deserved the opportunity to carry on.” 

Crutchlow ended the first day of Free Practice at the Red Bull Ring seventh, 0.6s off Friday pace setter Andrea Dovizioso.


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