Cal Crutchlow confirmed as 2021 Yamaha MotoGP test rider


Cal Crutchlow will replace Jorge Lorenzo as the 2021 Yamaha MotoGP test rider, and may have a chance to race with a wildcard entry

Cal Crutchlow in 2020

Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images

Cal Crutchlow has been confirmed as Yamaha’s test rider for 2021, bringing an end to a decade as a full-time MotoGP racer.

The most successful British GP rider since Barry Sheene, Crutchlow has won three races in his 166 starts for three teams.

Yamaha says that this experience will improve the development of its bikes, and he will ride the YZR-M1 in next season’s Sepang shakedown test that’s scheduled for February 14-16.

Crutchlow could compete at a race next year with a one-off wildcard entry, and will be the reserve if one of Yamaha’s riders has to miss any grands prix.

Cal Crutchlow riding for the Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team in 2011

Crutchlow joined the MotoGP grid with Yamaha in 2011


The announcement sees Jorge Lorenzo leave Yamaha. This year’s test rider has been linked with the vacant Aprilia seat, after Andrea Iannone’s drugs ban was upheld.

Crutchlow previously raced for Yamaha in the 2009 World Supersport Championship, followed by the World Superbike Championship in 2010.

He took a pay cut to join the MotoGP grid the next year, with Yamaha’s Monster Energy Tech3 satellite team. He was fifth in the championship in 2013, then moved to Ducati for a year in 2014, before joining LCR Honda where he has been ever since.

Jorge Lorenzo in his role as Yamaha test rider in 2020

Jorge Lorenzo had a limited Yamaha test programme this year


“Yamaha are delighted to welcome Cal Crutchlow back to the family,” the team announced in a statement. “The popular MotoGP star will join the Yamaha Factory Racing Test Team programme taking on the role of Official MotoGP Test Rider for the 2021 season.

“Crutchlow’s 10 years of experience in MotoGP, riding for three different manufacturers, make him the ideal rider for the job.

“A Wild Card appearance is possible if deemed beneficial to the testing programme, and Crutchlow has also confirmed his availability for selection as replacement rider in the unfortunate case where one of Yamaha’s MotoGP riders might be forced to miss a Grand Prix through illness or injury.”

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As documented by Mat Oxley last year, Crutchlow has often been the rider affected by injury, having had more than 150 crashes in his career. He has described riding through the pain of his injuries, including the nerve problems from his right ankle, which was crushed in his 2018 Phillip Island accident, and having to use a stairlift at home.

This year, he missed the season-opener after a practice crash, as well as both Misano rounds after complications that followed arm pump surgery.

Lin Jarvis, Yamaha Racing’s managing director, said that Crutchlow would enhance the team’s 2021 testing programme after the interruptions of this year. “[His] wealth of experience, coupled with Cal’s honest no-nonsense approach, will surely benefit us greatly as we strive to improve our YZR-M1 bikes with a full testing programme next year.

“We had planned and hoped for a strong programme this year with Jorge. Unfortunately, our Factory Test Team soon had to put their plans on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic started.

“We wish Jorge all the best in his future endeavours, and we thank him for his many years of collaboration with Yamaha.”