Honda's MotoGP project would benefit from a fast test rider with similar pace to Ducati's Michele Pirro.

That's the opinion of LCR's Cal Crutchlow who, as a factory-contracted rider, shares responsibility for steering the RC213V's technical development alongside Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.

But the trio can only ride at official races/tests, plus five days of private tests, meaning new parts need to be close to the mark by the time they are handed to the grand prix riders.

With testing for race riders set to be cut even further in the future, to compensate for an expanding calendar, the development work by factory test riders is becoming ever more important.

Responding to rumours that Honda will expand its MotoGP test team - currently headed by former racer Hiroshi Aoyama and countryman Takumi Takahashi - by signing a European rider in 2018, Crutchlow cited the contribution made by Michele Pirro at Ducati.

Although he hasn't raced a full season since 2012, Pirro (pictured with Crutchlow in 2016) has since competed in 31 MotoGP races as a Ducati replacement or wild-card, alongside his testing duties.

During those appearances Pirro has proven to be consistently fast, qualifying fifth at Misano in 2015 and claiming nine top-ten finishes (best of fifth).

For Crutchlow, a test rider needs to be within one-second of the team's race riders to give accurate feedback on the bike's behaviour at the limit.

"I've no idea [who Honda might bring in as a test rider], but they need to get someone good, because the person has to be on the pace," Crutchlow said. "Pirro is on the pace and look what he's done for the Ducati in the last two years.

"He's not the fastest rider in the world, but he's a good all-round rider that can do the job and there's a big difference between being two-seconds a lap off and one-second off.

"We're looking for the final two tenths or a tenth, which can make a big difference on these bikes, and if someone is two-seconds off it's difficult for them to give the information.

"But one-second off is a lot better.

"So it needs to be someone good… Maybe Marc can retire and he can do it!" Crutchlow joked.

Ducati of course already has another test rider that can rival even Marquez for raw speed: Casey Stoner.

The former double world champion is easily the fastest test rider in the world and, while Pirro carries out the majority of Ducati MotoGP testing, Stoner provides valuable input several times a season.

Stoner is again expected to appear for Ducati during the private Sepang test, held just before the official test at the end of this month.

The hot rumour is that former LCR rider and MotoGP podium finisher Stefan Bradl - having left WorldSBK after one season - will be helping Honda at Sepang.


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