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MotoGP

Crutchlow gets wildcard Yamaha hopes is bike’s ‘turning point’

by Simon Patterson
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow will make a wildcard appearance at its home MotoGP race, the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi in October, which Yamaha believes can mark a “significant turning point” in improving its beleaguered M1 bike’s performance.

Crutchlow will race under the Yamalube RS4GP banner on what is his first wildcard appearance in the premier class since retiring at the end of the 2020 season, shortly after which he joined Yamaha in his current capacity.

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Since then, the three-time MotoGP race winner has contested 10 races on satellite Yamaha machinery, including taking over at RNF from Andrea Dovizioso for the final six races of 2022 following the Italian’s unexpected mid-season retirement, but his Motegi ride marks the first time that Crutchlow will instead race as part of Yamaha’s test team.

“I‘m happy to have the chance to race at Motegi with the Yamalube RS4GP Racing Team,” said Crutchlow.

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“As Yamaha‘s official test rider, I do all I can to help develop the M1. The GP in Japan is a good opportunity to test prototype items in a race setting.

“We will work hard to collect as much valuable information for Yamaha as possible.”

With Yamaha in considerable trouble of late thanks to its flagging performance since the latter half of 2021, it seems that the wildcard will be the 2024 Yamaha M1’s first race appearance as it starts trying to rebuild.

“I believe this wildcard will be a significant turning point to improve the performance of the YZR-M1,” added YMC MotoGP project leader Kazutoshi Seki.

“The engineers are working very hard, and Cal‘s participation in the Japanese GP benefits the improvement of the YZR-M1 for the factory team – not only for this season but also for the next.”

Iker Lecuona

It has also been announced that Honda World Superbike racer Iker Lecuona will make another MotoGP appearance at Silverstone next weekend.

He will replace Alex Rins at the satellite LCR Honda squad, rather than riding in place of Marc Marquez on the factory Repsol Honda as he did at Jerez and at the most recent round at Assen in late June.

Lecuona, who will notably miss the Suzuka 8 Hours (where he was originally scheduled to race alongside WSBK team-mate Xavi Vierge), will step in as Rins continues to recover from the badly broken leg he sustained at Mugello – one of a litany of Honda racers who’ve broken bones so far in 2023.

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