Cal Crutchlow has described HRC’s offer to extend his factory contract by one more year and feels this could well be his last MotoGP deal before retirement. But “that can change,” he conceded.

The Englishman said he began talks with Honda regarding the possibility of extending his current deal – which was due to expire at the close of 2019, leaving him out of sync with the majority of the MotoGP grid – as early as the close of last season.

The fact the 32-year old, who sits eighth in the MotoGP standings, is as competitive as he has ever been in the premier class, coupled with his continued enjoyment of racing, and working in his existing structure, was enough to convince him to extend his stay.

“I already had one year so I only extended the one year,” he said on Friday after posting the second fastest free practice time of the day. “Was there much thought about it? No, not really because the deal put in front of me was an unbelievable one.

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“I was very luck that we had basically said I would extend my contract when I was leading the championship earlier in the year. We just waited until now to announce it. We let everybody get over the fact that Jorge [Lorenzo] will get over riding the Honda next year and then announce.

“I thought it was the right time to do it. We didn’t do it earlier in the year because you lot didn’t need to know that it had been done. To me it was set in stone for many months. I discussed with Alberto [Puig] and [Yoshishige] Nomura [HRC President] from Qatar onwards. I discussed at the end of last year and we got the deal done in the months after.

“I was very, very happy with the deal put in front of me. Probably very close to my best deal in MotoGP, even though I’m on a superb deal now as well. They played the perfect card because I chose to stay here as well and I said I was happy to stay in LCR.

“Then they’ve got three strong riders for next year because they’ve managed to get two riders in the factory team and then me here. Those are three cards to play rather than two.”

Was the deal ‘unbelievable’ in a financial sense or a factory-support sense? “Both,” came the reply. “Financially I’m by far the highest paid satellite rider anyway, because I’m a factory rider. But the deal that was put on the table was not just the reason why I wanted to stay.

“I wanted to stay with Honda first and foremost. I’ve got a great relationship with Nomura, with Takeo [Yokoyama, HRC technical director], with [Tetsuhiro] Kuwata [HRC Director], with my team. Lucio [Cecchiello, LCR Honda team owner] was obviously only happy to keep me.

“The deal was good and beneficial and I don’t think I’m slowing down as a rider. That was one of the main things for me. I could have quite easily stopped – I can go home and not have to worry every again in my life.

“But I feel I’m still fast. I want to continue. If you go from being top five to being top twelve and then twelfth to 15th then it’s time to retire. But essentially I’m going faster than any other year. I feel good and now I have to continue to be fast for two more years as well.”

On whether the new deal means he will receive the exact same equipment as championship leader Marc Marquez, Crutchlow countered, “I get them [the same parts] anyway. It’s just at the time there aren’t enough of them.”

This, of course, was a reference to Honda's carbon swingarm, which Marquez first tested at Valencia last November, and Crutchlow has yet to receive.

“I can’t tell you direct,” he said of exact bike specs for the coming two years. “But they’re happy with me. I’m happy with them. If I wasn’t happy with the situation I wouldn’t have signed another agreement. I can take that. Don’t forget you also haven’t seen one [carbon swingarm] on another bike for many, many races.

“I know that if the parts are available we will get them. They support me 100 percent. I never go without anything. They never turn around and say, ‘this is not for you.’ If there’s one of them, Marc’s going to get them. You’re going to give it to the fastest guy and the guy who’s leading championship.”

On several occasions in the past, Crutchlow has stated he could not see himself racing into his late 30s, in the same manner Valentino Rossi does. And he feels this deal, which runs to the end of 2020 may well be his last in the MotoGP class.

“I’m sure that you will all jump on the headline and quote and twist it because that’s what the media does,” he said, “but I’m quite positive this will be my last contract. Just because. I don’t want to race forever. Again that can change like anything can change. I also said that about my last contract. I said it could be my last contract.

“That’s not me saying if I win I’ll continue, or I’ll stop if I’m last. Things can change. I want to take my daughter to school and stuff like that. I don’t need to do it any more. That’s sure. I have so many other things going on with investments and things like that.

“Life would be easy if I stopped. But I still love what I do. And that’s why I say if I’m not loving it, or I’m not motivated then I won’t bother doing it.”



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