Is Cal Crutchlow ready to give up on his Ducati dream?
When Crutchlow replaced Nicky Hayden at Marlboro Ducati the stories surrounding his new contract were so vast and so outrageous that it was hard to sift past what which was true and what was exaggeration. But one detail kept being leaked: that Crutchlow's two year deal at Ducati was actually a one year deal with an option for a second. And it was Crutchlow's option. Meaning it would be his decision whether he stayed for a second year.
That story seems to be gathering more and more momentum with news reports emanating from Assen detailing that Crutchlow's manager--American ex-racer Bob Moore--has held talks with both Suzuki and Honda about Crutchlow's services for 2015.
Honda? Crutchlow? As "outside the box" as that might sound, insiders suggest that the Brit has an outside chance to land at Repsol Honda--if Dani Pedrosa does not/is not re-signed. How would the very unfiltered Cal Crutchlow fit inside the factory Honda team? Good question.
In some ways the relationship between Crutchlow and Ducati has been rocky from the very beginning. In 2012, reportedly, Crutchlow had an angry conversation with then Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio when negotiations between Ducati and Crutchlow fell apart. Fast forward to today where Crutchlow is now sixteenth in the championship after a rough rookie Ducati season which included missing races because of injury.
It won't be easy for Crutchlow to extract himself from his Ducati contract. Largely because he is being paid very well to ride the Italian machine and he might have a problem obtaining that level of compensation from another team.
It's been a bizarre turn of events with Crutchlow over the last year and a half: Crutchlow started off 2012 as the fastest rider at the pre-season tests but at the same time sniping at Yamaha because he wasn't getting the same spec bike as factory Yamaha riders Lorenzo and Rossi. Crutchlow then stopped using "Yamaha" when discussing his bike and gave nearly all credit to Tech 3. Then Crutchlow "quit" the team when he learned that Yamaha had signed Moto2 stand out Pol Espargaro to a factory contract. Crutchlow said then that his only desire--even though he was riding one of the fastest bikes in the MotoGP paddock and was a threat at nearly every race for the podium--was to ride a factory bike in 2014. Crutchlow then signed a contract to race a factory Ducati for 2014, replacing Nicky Hayden.
Now on a factory bike, reportedly Cal Crutchlow wants out.
If Crutchlow does leave Ducati after one season it may be viewed as yet another black eye for the Italian manufacturer, that yet another rider has found the Ducati hopeless as a MotoGP racer. It doesn't turn, has traction problems, and when the tires are gone the bike starts to behave like it has, at least, two brains.
It's almost as if no one noticed that Andrea Dovizioso finished second last weekend at the Dutch TT.