Valentino Rossi’s decision to return to Yamaha continues to have carry-on effects.
The latest was the settling of the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Earlier this week, Andrea Dovizioso confirmed his move to the seat vacated by Rossi as Nicky Hayden’s teammate on the Ducati Marlboro team. That left Herve Poncharal’s team with one opening and possibly two, with Cal Crutchlow considering a move back to World Superbike.
But today the team announced their lineup and, not only is Crutchlow back, but he’s joined by fellow Brit Bradley Smith for the team’s first all-British lineup.
Crutchlow celebrated his one-year contract with a career MotoGP best qualifying effort. Crutchlow qualified second to Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, the pole-sitter for Sunday’s Czech Grand Prix at Brno.
“I am really happy to have scored my best ever qualifying result in MotoGP and the timing couldn’t be better after I signed a new contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 earlier today,’ Crutchlow said. “This was the perfect way to immediately repay the faith shown in me by Tech 3, Yamaha and Monster. Once again today we demonstrated what a competitive package we have and that is one of the big reasons why I committed my future to the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team.”
Crutchlow had been in talks with Ducati, but those talks fell apart with Crutchlow offering a scathing commentary on Ducati management, which he said lied to him. At the Red Bull Indy GP he said that a return to World Superbike was a possibility. His thinking was that he could race for the World Superbike Championship or finish off the podium in MotoGP. Today he chose MotoGP.
Smith was given a commitment for a MotoGP seat when he signed his Moto2 deal. But his results in Moto2 have been less than sterling. His best finish this season is a fourth in the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello. He sits seventh in the Moto2 World Championship with 69 points, 119 less than championship leader Marc Marquez
With the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 lineup set, attention now turns to Gresini Honda. Spaniard Alvaro Bautista has a one-year contract and Michele Pirro is the team’s CRT rider.