In something of a shock move, less than a week after Ducati and Cal Crutchlow announced he’d be staying for a second year, he’s gone.
The move was precipitated by an amusingly-phrased comment from Honda Racing Corporation that they “no longer required the services of Stefan Bradl” on the LCR Honda team. Crutchlow’s agent had been in close touch with LCR and when it was formalized that Bradl was gone an offer was made to Crutchlow.
Ducati was no doubt pleased, since they’ve now lost one huge salary and can comfortably promote Andrea Ianonne to the factory team beside Andrea Dovizioso. Ianonne, a close friend of Valentino Rossi, has been riding extremely well all season on his Pramac Ducati – close to, but not quite the same as, the factory bikes.
Meanwhile, Bradl has already copped a ride for 2015 with the NGM Forward Yamaha team, replacing Aleix Espargaro. Espargaro is expected to join the new Suzuki squad to join fellow Spaniard Maverick Vinales (although no formal announcement has been made of either rider’s situation).
That pretty much sews up the top seats for 2015, although Jorge Lorenzo has yet to re-sign with Yamaha. That’s expected to be already a done deal, however, to be announced at Indianapolis the weekend of August 10. The rumour mill has it that Lorenzo wants only a one-year deal instead of the usual two; Crutchlow’s deal with LCR is also only for one year.
Perhaps the tough English rider figures that now that his 2014 Ducati salary has taken care of his retirement fund, he’d like to give the near-factory Honda a one-year shot in the hopes of a factory ride in 2016. Good luck with that, however; he’s already 29, and there are a LOT of very hot young properties breathing down the necks of the current Moto GP racers.