January 11, 2023

Cal Crutchlow explains decision behind Austria MotoGP return

The three-time MotoGP race winner retired from racing at the end of last season and joined Yamaha as its official test rider, with the Briton designated as one of its replacement riders.

With Franco Morbidelli out of action until September’s Aragon Grand Prix at the earliest following knee surgery in June, Crutchlow will ride the ‘A-spec’ Yamaha for this weekend’s Styrian GP, the Austrian GP and the British GP.

Crutchlow revealed he hasn’t ridden the Yamaha since a test in April and wouldn’t be doing so again until October after two outings at Motegi in Japan in June and July were cancelled due to COVID-19.

As a result, Crutchlow felt this three-race stint was ideal to bridge that gap to his next test.

“Feels strange because I retired and then suddenly I’m back already,” Crutchlow said on Thursday at the Red Bull Ring.

“Yeah, it was a joint decision between me, Yamaha and Petronas SRT team that I would come and race these three races.

“Unfortunately, Franco got injured and we hope he comes back soon, there’s no doubt about that. I hope he comes back soon.

“Basically, the situation was they asked me to ride at Assen, but I was planned to go to some tests in Japan.

“Unfortunately, these got cancelled, so this would have meant too long off the bike.

“I haven’t ridden at all any bike since the test in April and now I’ll ride this weekend. Then I wouldn’t ride again till October, so it’s too long of a gap.”

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Crutchlow also revealed that while he is designated as a replacement rider, his contract states that he isn’t bound to making these appearances.

“I can’t really talk about contracts, but I have a replacement thing in my contract but I don’t have to do it,” he added.

“So, this is why also I didn’t do Assen. We thought it was best not to do Assen because they called on the Tuesday night, they’d just been to a race [in Germany].

“I was supposed to go testing in Japan, so I said ‘no, I don’t want to do it, call [World Superbike riders] Toprak [Razgatlioglu] and Garrett [Gerloff].

“And they did. So, I believe that was the right situation, but now with the three races the way they are it’s not a bad time to do it, especially with me not being able to test I think being active will be good.

“But I retired because I didn’t want to race as such, so now to be back racing is a funny story.

“But I’ll embrace it, I look forward to it and we’ll see how I get on.”

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