Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow will make his MotoGP race return for the next three races as replacement for the injured Franco Morbidelli at the Petronas SRT squad.
The Brit-who retired from full-time competition at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign-will return to action at the controls of the Malaysian outfit’s satellite Yamaha M1 next weekend at the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian Grand Prix, the following event at the same venue for the Styrian GP as well as his home contest at Silverstone at the end of August.
Morbidelli-who suffered an injured meniscus as well as an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee prior to the Dutch TT last month-was always expected to skip at least both Austrian outings due to the eight week rehabilitation period associated with his type of injury and resulting surgery.
The Italian therefore is targeting a return at the Motorland Aragon Circuit for the Aragon GP in mid-September.
Crutchlow says he is refraining from “setting targets” for his short-term premier class comeback, the thee-time MotoGP race winner instead focussing on gathering data to help Yamaha further develop its M1 for the future.
“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,” said Crutchlow.
“I’m looking forward to riding for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in the three Grands Prix. Obviously it’s not in the best circumstances and I wish Franco a good recovery, I hope he comes back strongly after the knee surgery.
I think it’s difficult to set targets for these three races and it will be more about understanding the bike, as I’ve had limited riding days this year.
“The good thing will be that I can compare the bikes and I should be able to gather a lot of data for Yamaha. 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.”
The Austrian GP will not be Crutchlow’s first time competing with a satellite M1 machine, the 2009 World Supersport champion-also on Yamaha machinery-having spent three seasons with the Tech 3 team, scoring a total of six rostrums across the ’11-’13 period before moving to the factory Ducati organisation for the ’14 term.
He also spent a season with the Japanese manufacturer’s World Superbike operation in ’10 off the back of his Supersport title, capturing three victories-including a double at home at Donington Park-on his way to fifth in that year’s riders standings.
He returned to Yamaha as a test rider for this year after spending six years as a factory-contracted Honda rider, scoring all three of his premier class wins on an LCR-run RC213-V.
Current Yamaha World Superbike pilot Garrett Gerloff subbed for Morbidelli for the Dutch TT, the American showing improvement throughout the weekend before ending up 17th in the race ahead of Avintia’s Luca Marini.