The troubled waters through which Cal Crutchlow has found himself sailing with Yamaha have been calmed a little. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider and his manager Bob Moore held their first face-to-face meeting with Yamaha bosses Lin Jarvis and Masahiko Nakajima on the Sunday night after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, to discuss the options for extending their relationship for next year.

Also present at the meeting was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss Hervé Poncharal, who has been very vocal in his desire to retain the British rider. Crutchlow’s results have been a real boon for the French team, and  his outspoken and impish personality have helped attract a large amount of media attention.

Poncharal has been mediating between Yamaha and Crutchlow, and is trying to secure an extension of Crutchlow’s contract with the team for 2014. He judged the meeting a positive step forward, with all parties involved getting a chance to express their views in person.

“It was good to clear the air,” Poncharal said of the meeting, something which was necessary after Crutchlow’s indignant and very public response to rumors that Yamaha were intending to put Pol Espargaro on Crutchlow’s seat in the Tech 3 garage.

Rumors of an imminent departure for the new factory Suzuki team continue to surround Crutchlow, despite Crutchlow’s continuing protestations that his first objective is to remain with Yamaha.

The meeting had been an opportunity for both sides to express their commitment to each other. “Cal understands more and more the world he is in,” Poncharal said, “And he knows he needs to be a bit more careful. But Yamaha also understand Cal’s potential.”

It had been an opportunity for Crutchlow to make it very clear to Yamaha that what he wants most is to remain with Yamaha. He had spoken with some passion about his commitment, and that had convinced Yamaha bosses of his sincerity. “Nakajima was quite touched by what Cal said about Yamaha,” Poncharal said.

Though both Yamaha and Crutchlow set out their positions during the meeting, no conclusions had been drawn. Both Yamaha and Crutchlow need to study their options, and what they could offer each other before any contracts could be signed. The situation was should be close to being settled by the end of June. “Things will be much clearer by Assen,” Poncharal said.

Crutchlow is still keen to have a factory contract, but his situation is complicated by the fact that the only rides in factory teams available next year are with Ducati and the new Suzuki team. Both moves would be a gamble, Ducati showing clear signs of improvement, but still behind the Honda and the Yamaha, while Suzuki is an unknown quantity at the moment.

Remaining in Yamaha would probably be Crutchlow’s best option, especially if he can persuade the factory to give him more direct support. That would require a change in Yamaha policy, which is not something they have been prepared to do so far.

The prospect of losing Crutchlow – at fourth in the championship, and with two podiums, Crutchlow is the second best Yamaha rider at the moment,  24 points ahead of second Factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi – may be sufficient to persuade Yamaha to do just that.

The issue of Crutchlow could become moot if Valentino Rossi decides to retire early, of course. Rossi came back to Yamaha with the stated objective of fighting for wins and podiums, but so far, he has failed to make the impact he had hoped for. That is in part due to the time he has needed to adapt to a changed Yamaha M1, but also due to misfortune, of his own and others’ making.

Rossi has had two crashes so far this season, falling at Le Mans after making a mistake in the wet, and then being involved in a clash with Alvaro Bautista at Mugello. If Rossi cannot manage to start scoring regular podiums, there is a possibility that he could decide to retire from MotoGP before the end of his two-year contract.

If he did call it a day at the end of this year, that would open up a seat in the factory Yamaha team. Given his current run of form, Crutchlow would be the perfect candidate to take that seat. That would solve the problem for Yamaha and Crutchlow, but it would leave Hervé Poncharal with empty hands.

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    I don’t see Yamaha’s point of view. Why not give Crutchlow more factory support? What could go wrong?

    Does Yamaha really think Crutchlow will start beating Lorenzo (won’t happen) on a regular basis? He aleady routinely beats Rossi, so Rossi’s not the concern…

    I contend, if you give Crutchlow the full factory package he’ll be more able to put in a result higher than Pedrosa, which would help Lorenzo make up those desperately needed points.

  • smiler

    Yamahaha want a long/term replacement to chase Merguez.Lorenzo won\t be able to. Cal is too old and Rossi past it. The idea was to use Pol Paella to do this. However seeing as he is getting kicked all over the place by Redding then pushing Cal forward in the interim looks like a better idea.

  • proudAmerican

    Maybe Yamaha’s problem with giving Cal more factory support would be their opening of Pandora’s Box. Once they give certain items/support to Tech 3, they’d be in a much larger financial commitment then they are currently.

    Then, every new rider to show up to Tech 3 would expect this same amount of financial support/hardware (how would Yamaha tell Poncharal that they’re not going to give as much support to a new rider on the team, as they’ve given to a previous rider?)

    Of course, if Yamaha wasn’t having to pay Rossi’s salary anymore, that’d create some financial freedom to spend that money elsewhere.

  • TexusTim

    look it’s like this… Cal aint getting a factory yamaha ride..after all this and yamaha isnt any closer means it’s done..he may have spoken out too much for the japan teams, they dont like vocal americans or englishmen speaking there minds..they dont like ultimatems so many words his goose is cooked…now he needs to get the suzuki ride before it’s too late…forget ducatti it didnt work last year it will be no different….Im for spies and crutch on the suzuki next year, they would make a great team for there return to motogp

  • CTK

    They should give Cal the factory bike. Riders like Marquee come maybe once a decade. Marquez is this generation’s Rossi. Yamaha’s gotta just buy time and points. Cal is their best way forward.

  • L2C

    Why did Monster increase their financial support for Yamaha? Was it because of Jorge Lorenzo’s performance last year, or was it because Yamaha signed Valentino Rossi last year? It seemed like Monster made its decision based on both factors. Lorenzo’s championship gave them a reason to consider it – but what made the proposition irresistible was the inherent value that Rossi brought with him. Rossi, despite his average performance this year, so far, is still a much better pitchman than Lorenzo. Yamaha, Monster, and MotoGP have definitely benefitted this year from Rossi’s return to Yamaha.

    The fact is, both Yamaha and Monster understood that Rossi may not win another championship, but both easily understood that even through misfortune, Rossi increases the perceived value of the brands he represents. He increases the fortunes of his partners. Ducati fought hard last year to retain Rossi, and that is one important reason why. But Rossi can still ride with the best of them, and this was also understood.

    The reason I bring this up is because everyone at the Yamaha/Monster/MotoGP negotiating table played their cards right last year, EXCEPT Cal Crutchlow. He could have opted to sign a two-year contract, but he instead chose to go with a one-year option. Instead of striking forcefully while the irons were hot, he half-assed it – and made a big stink in the process. This year he has managed to make an even bigger stink. There wouldn’t have been a “Pol Espargaro meets with Yamaha” story if Crutchlow had put more effort into being shrewd rather than rude.

    Crutchlow’s predicament was created by Cal Crutchlow. Not Yamaha, not Tech 3, not Monster, and definitely not Valentino Rossi. So – why do any of these individuals have to sort out Crutchlow’s miserable situation for him?

    And once again I have to read about the possibility of Rossi retiring early to make way for Crutchlow. Frankly, I hope that Rossi remains with Yamaha until the end of his contract, regardless of his performance. As I said earlier, his performance so far this year has been average. All of the top riders can expect to have at least one DNF this season. Marc Márquez has already chalked one up, Crutchlow and the others can be expected to do the same. And even though Rossi crashed at Le Mans, he managed to finish the race in 12th position, for points. Remember that. Jorge Lorenzo finished 7th in the same race. Let’s not forget that either.

    Another thing I want to point out: If Tech 3 can place faith in Bradley Smith, who clearly made a good deal when he signed with the team, then there is nothing wrong with Yamaha showing interest in Pol Espargaro, who by past results is a better performer than Bradley Smith. Sure, Espargaro’s performance hasn’t exactly met expectations this season, so far, but then neither has Smith’s.

    If anybody’s head needs to go on the Yamaha chopping block, it is not Rossi’s. If it’s not Smith who needs to be sacrificed, then for sure it’s not Rossi. Not through retirement or any other measure.

    Crutchlow can continue to fight for a seat with Yamaha, if he wants to – now that he has learned to ride the bike closer to the limit. But this year he is paying the price for his behavior last year. Then, he should have put all of his energy in learning how to ride the satellite M1 closer to the limit. He should have kept his head down and his mouth shut. Rossi did that at Ducati, despite hellish conditions. And he is now keeping his head down, focused on his work at Factory Yamaha. Crutchlow could learn from that example. He may end up at Suzuki, if not Ducati because Hayden is looking pretty comfortable these days.

  • paulus – Thailand

    Shame… and I naively thought racing was about winning races.
    It seems it is about selling T-shirts, over-priced 46 caps and chemically enhanced sugar water.

  • jet

    Screw Yamaha,Cal will be lied to and told to keep his mouth shut and who knows what else.Yamaha has no respect and can care less.I hope he goes to Suzuki w/ a fresh start to build his own king of the hill team w/ a totaly new bike,Ducati would be 2nd,opinion wishing…I wish him the best cause he is a great rider..

  • Westward

    +1 to L2C

    LeMans and Mugello are anomalies. Rossi will be up there soon enough.

    I still think Marquez or Rossi will take the title this year. Something always seems to go wrong for Dani, and Lorenzo showed signs of cracking under pressure. Marquez and Rossi are hungry for it for different reasons.

    @ paulus – Thailand

    MotoGP has long not been about pure racing. If it were, then there would be no problem with giving Cal factory support. As long a pilot on a Yamaha wins, then what should it matter. That is why Honda had four factory bikes at one time (3 Repsols Dovi, Dani, & Casey, and Marco at Gresini)

    Ducati essentially has four factory bikes on the grid now and sometimes five…

  • @L2C: ‘There wouldn’t have been a “Pol Espargaro meets with Yamaha” story if Crutchlow had put more effort into being shrewd rather than rude.’

    Yeah, I’ve thought much the same thing. Cal is entertaining, but he and his management are not making the best business decisions. History is replete with Japanese factories taking issue with criticism from riders. Heck, Biaggi was basically forced out of the paddock after falling out with Honda. Cal would be smart to ensure the same doesn’t happen with him. Having a face-to-face to smooth the waters should be seen as a shot off his port bow.

  • TexusTim

    @LC2.. I agree with a lot of what your saying, he did as I said cook his own goose…first he complains to yamaha, then entertains or persues an offer with ducatti..he may have wanted the ride vacated by rossi and felt gyped by dovi getting it when cal finished 2012 far better than spies did and just under dovi,, then suddenly spies gets the juinor team ride ” I get that ” !!, but then he signs only one year leaving him looking for a ride in 2014, he basically told yamaha he’s out in 2014…this to me points to the fact of a top secret meeting with he had to know were he would be in 2014..why only sign for one year with tech 3 if he didnt have somthing in the works?? money and I dont have much is on crutch with suzuki and having a blast with full support..if we can get spies to leave ducatti to rehab this intire year then we might see them both on the suzuki..If it happens I hope they can really get along..hopefully there isnt any bad blood amongst them if the dream team is to happen and kick ass in 2014/2015…hell im going out and buying a suzuki right now…oops I already have one.

  • Westward

    I don’t see why spies wold leave Ducati at this point. He is essentially getting getting fully factory support where he is now. I suspect he will replace Hayden next season. I also see Ducati picking up Redding to partner with Iannone at Pramac. All four Ducati’s have full factory cooperation.

    I hardly see Suzuki being able to even match the Ducati in its present state. Looking at it from a practical point of view. If I where a pilot in MotoGP, I would have to weigh Ducati’s support and backing by Audi and their absolute commitment to racing in both MotoGP and WSBK, versus Suzuki, whom have bailed on MGP and withheld support in WSBK, especially when they had Haslem competing for the title a few years back.

    Crutchlow wants to stay with Yamaha cause even at this stage in the game, he is competitive, with a little more support he could be dangerous, versus going to Suzuki which will a total crap shoot…

    At least at Ducati there is improvement. Dovi qualified on the front row in the dry. If Stoner came back to race for Ducati, he would be the championship favourite and leader. That is provided they don’t engineer the bike around him, and continue to do so around Dovizioso…

    Spies has a bright future with Ducati in both MGP and WSBK. I think he will be with them for a while. The only people that consider his place at Pramac as the junior squad are the press and public. Otherwise it’s really just Ducati’s expanded factory effort running four bikes…

    That is probably why Pramac went back to its white and red livery scheme, in order to be more cohesive in their presence…

  • TexusTim

    @ Westard now suddenly the ducati is the bike to go with…lol you realy believe that ducatti is totaly behind Spies ?…really ? I go back to the original thought…they have huge money like any other multinational company when they hire a rider dont you think they had the good doctors look him over ?.
    forget all the excuses and false starts this year..I think duactti is basicaly throwing his career in the kitty litter by having him come and go like this..tossing his ride around like this…Spies, if he hasnt already done so needs to bail and get with suzuki before silly season really ramps up…just put brand loyalty aside and think of what has happend this year already. Im not just a fan of one manufactor I am a fan of moto gp !!..not everyone listens to the same drums here.. thats cool…if I was true to my favorite brand which is HONDA ! I wouldnt even bother..were winning almost everytime here.and I would just beat that drum…I want to see some comback/payback with riders riding with intesity to win ! not play to the media. lets get this party really started.

  • @TexusTim: “Spies, if he hasnt already done so needs to bail and get with suzuki before silly season really ramps up.”

    Except that Suzuki will be a complete unknown factor and Audi will have had a full year of getting a rejuvenated development project working as it should. No offense against Suzuki intended, but I’d be surprised if they were competitive for the first two seasons back in the paddock.

  • mxs

    Spies looks to me a pretty weak link if not weakest link …. I cannot believe Suzuki would consider signing him to develop their bike?

    I also think that people are crazy to think that the winner will be either Marquez or Rossi (I can’t believe I am typing this …). Rossi is done, he will manage a win or maybe two, but it’s over let’s face it. Marquez is the future, but not this year. I think it’s Lorenzo’s year to lose.

    When is Stoner coming back? … LOL …. I think he will wait to see how serious and successful is Audi at the reigns and go from there. He will ask for a disgusting number to which they will gladly agree after all this drought and we will have something interesting to watch.

  • Westward

    @ TexusTim

    Compared to Suzuki, Ducati is next best thing to happen to motorcycling since the wheel. I suspect the reason Spies was on a Yamaha in WSBK instead of a Suzuki, had a lot to do with Suzukis lack of commitment the prior season.

    Besides, Audi did not just spend a billion dollars on Ducati, to not be successful in their endeavors racing or marketing-wise. I’m guessing it will take five or more years to make that amount back in motorcycles sales. So there must be more to it.

    Having a successful racing program in every series, is definitely their goal, and it reflects in personnel and engineering decisions. What has Suzuki shown other than words…

    BTW, the Panigales are not doing too bad in World STK and finished second last year after leading most of the season.