3 years ago
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Just two days after announcing that Cal Crutchlow will ride for his team next year, Lucio Cecchinello spoke with motogp.com in order to discuss the signing of the English rider and the plan to run two bikes during the 2015 season.
From the start of next year, the Monaco-based outfit will be rebranded as CWM-LCR Honda. Not only will Crutchlow join, but Cecchinello also confirms that he will be running an Open specification machine alongside Crutchlow’s Factory Option bike.
When did you decide to focus on Crutchlow and how did negotiations develop?
Our goal was always to make an ambitious programme for next year, with that dream becoming a reality thanks to a new British sponsor in CWM, a leader in the financial sector. We signed the contract in late July and from then on we knew we had the opportunity to field two bikes. The sponsor confirmed their will to race with Stefan Bradl, to whom we made an offer at the end of July. He told us he needed more time because he wanted to evaluate all of the offers he had; I realised his interest had begun to waver and I didn’t want our new sponsor to lose interest. So we started turning our gaze to the top riders on the market, exploring all of the options. Among them was Cal Crutchlow and we had already been in contact with his manager, Bob Moore, since early July. We then resumed the talks and everybody agreed to the terms very quickly, within a few days.
What was it about Crutchlow that convinced you he was the rider to go with?
In 2013, Cal had an excellent season with four podium finishes and two pole positions (with Monster Yamaha Tech 3), and so I believed he was a viable alternative to Stefan, despite currently going through a difficult season with Ducati and not being as comfortable on that bike as he was on the Yamaha. I believe that, with him, our team can return to the highest level and the objective is to be up there with the best of them.
How many seasons does Crutchlow’s new contract cover? And will he be bringing any of his technical staff with him?
The contract signed is for the 2015 season; then there is an option on our side for 2016, based mainly on results, and of course there is also the HRC side to consider. As far as technical staff are concerned, we will start looking into that from Indianapolis onwards.
Can you now say how many bikes you will be running in 2015?
We are looking to run one Factory Option bike and then a second bike to Open specification; however, with the latter we are yet to confirm either the programme or the rider. However, our priority was to have the Factory Option bike and a competitive rider, as desired by the sponsor.
Some paddock rumours continue to link current Moto3™ championship leader Jack Miller with an LCR MotoGP™ ride…
Jack Miller has certainly been approached by Honda, but I am not aware of the status of any negotiations. Once the programme is defined, it would be up to HRC to place him in one of the available positions. LCR would be one of the possibilities, but that decision would be up to the people involved.
All of this means that, after three seasons, you will end your working relationship with Stefan Bradl. How do you sum it up?
LCR has existed since 1996 and, without doubt, Stefan is the rider with whom we have worked best. He is a very serious, precise and sensitive guy who has demonstrated that he is able to develop a bike and show consistent results. On many occasions he has brought us home valuable points, as opposed to crashing and not scoring anything. He has brought me a lot of emotion and I hope to experience a lot more before the end of the year. He is a rider who will always remain close to heart.
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