Cal Crutchlow to stand in for Franco Morbidelli at Austrian and GB MotoGP races

MotoGP

Cal Crutchlow will be back in the saddle for Petronas Yamaha at the Styrian, Austrian and British GPs as a substitute for Franco Morbidelli, who is recovering from surgery

Cal Crutchlow

Crutchlow has been carrying out test and development work for Yamaha, but will now step up to its satellite squad as a temporary race rider

Yamaha

Cal Crutchlow is set to make a sensational return to MotoGP as a substitute for Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli, as the Italian recovers from knee surgery.

Crutchlow, the last Brit to win a MotoGP race, will stand in at the two Austrian races and also Silverstone. The Coventry-native retired at the end of last season after ten years at the top of the sport and took up a test-rider role with Yamaha.

“After looking at all the options, it was a collective decision between Yamaha and ourselves to ask Cal Crutchlow to fill in for Franco, while he recovers from surgery,” team boss Razlan Razali said. “Cal is a credible and experienced rider.”

Crutchlow, the most successful British MotoGP rider since Barry Sheene, said he has no specific targets for his finishing position in Silverstone, but is looking to rack up the data for the satellite squad.

“It’s great to be back riding with Yamaha this year as the official test rider and to be able to step in when needed is good for all parties,” added the three-time MotoGP winner. “It’s a bit like being thrown in the deep end, as it’s a very competitive MotoGP class, but I’m really looking forward to it and it’s going to be good to be back on the grid.”

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“I’m looking forward to meeting the team in Austria, although there will be some familiar faces for me because Wilco Zeelenberg was my Team Manager in Supersport in 2009 and I actually raced against Johan Stigefelt some years ago, so it’s going to be a pleasure to be back with them.”

The Brit could’ve been on the bike even earlier. Indications of friction within the Yamaha camp were given when it was revealed during the Dutch GP that Zeelenberg wanted Crutchlow in to replace Morbidelli at Assen, but was instead given Yamaha World Superbike rider Garrett Gerloff, whom he described as a “gamble”.

“Clearly I wanted Cal on the bike, he knows Assen and he is the test rider,” Zeelenberg told MotoGP.com. “On the other side we did not have to replace a rider at this track, but there is a bit of pressure from the situation to have a satellite team and a title for them, so we wanted to have two riders on the bike.

“We know Franco’s injury will take some time and we wanted to give experience to the boys that haven’t been here. Garrett is a bit of a gamble we have to admit, it is risky.”

Crutchlow’s first race back will be at the Styrian GP on August 8. Joining him will be Dani Pedrosa, who will be making the first of three wildcard appearances for KTM at the Red Bull Ring.