HRC test rider Stefan Bradl will step in for the injured Cal Crutchlow at next weekend’s Malaysian MotoGP.

On Friday Crutchlow suffered nasty fractures to his right ankle and distal tibia in a heavy crash at Turn 1 during FP2 at Phillip Island ahead of the Australian race and underwent surgery in Melbourne to install an external fixator.

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With the British rider instantly ruled out of the next race in Sepang, Bradl has been called up for LCR Honda and returns to his former team who he raced for in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Bradl, who has contested three MotoGP races this year from two HRC wildcards (Brno and Misano) and one replacement ride for Marc VDS Honda (Sachsenring), has paid tribute to the stricken Crutchlow as he prepares to return to action with his former team.

“First of all I want to say it’s a great pity for Cal because he was in good form after the podium in Japan and the last few races,” Bradl said. “I hope he has a speedy recovery. It’s a good opportunity for me, it’s a nice comeback (to the LCR Team) as we had three years together and there are a lot of people I know in the team.

“I also want to thank HRC and Lucio for reacting so quickly and professionally to this situation. Now let’s see what we can do, I’m looking forward to seeing the guys and working with them again.”

LCR Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello has passed on his best wishes to Crutchlow as he begins his recovery and is confident Bradl can be a sufficient replacement rider in Malaysia.

“Obviously we are very disappointed about Cal’s crash in Friday’s FP2 session and the resulting fracture of the right ankle,” Cecchinello said. “But this is part of racing and we must accept if even if we do not like it. Cal’s orthopaedic problem will be successfully fixed in few weeks.

“The whole team wish him a very speed recovery and in the meantime we move to Malaysia for the penultimate round of the season with another LCR former racer.

“Stefan Bradl raced in LCR colours for three years in the premier class (2012, 2013 and 2014) and we know all about his remarkable skills and undeniable talent. We are happy to be back in the garage together.”

Crutchlow will undergo a second operation later this week in Melbourne, once the swelling in his ankle reduces, to insert three plates into his ankle to keep the bone in place. The British rider is then expected to fly home to begin physiotherapy two weeks after the second surgery.

The recovery timeframe means it is unlikely Crutchlow will be available for the final round in Valencia (November 16-18). LCR Honda will make a final confirmation, plus any announcement of a replacement rider, during the build-up to the 2018 MotoGP finale.

Crutchlow currently holds the top MotoGP independents' spot in the rider's championship with a 15-point advantage on both Johann Zarco and Danilo Petrucci with three races remaining.

“Cal arrived at Alfred Hospital by helicopter very quickly after the crash and we are very grateful for this because, despite his serious injury, it was not compulsory, but everyone was very keen for him to be taken to hospital by helicopter,” Cecchinello confirmed.

“Once he arrived, he had a full body scan which confirmed that the only part of his body injured in the crash was his right ankle. The fracture he sustained to it involved both the ankle malleolus and distal tibia. Dr. Lazarus and the surgery team led by Dr. Edwards – who successfully operated on the right ankle of Dani Pedrosa many years ago – carried out a first procedure which was a fracture reduction and alignment and external fixation with the use of a cage”.

“This first surgery took 45 minutes and was simply to put the bone back into the perfect position for a second operation. That will take place on Wednesday or Thursday once the swelling to the ankle has gone down and will most likely involve inserting three small plates to keep the bone in place and guarantee the best possible recovery.”

“The plan is that he will then be discharged three days after the second operation, which is next weekend. We will be in Malaysia at that time, so Cal will fly home instead and try to recover as quickly as possible. He will be able to start physiotherapy two weeks after the surgery to try and get himself fit as quickly as he can.”

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