The United Kingdom will once again be represented in MotoGP this weekend as Cal Crutchlow returns to the premier class in a wild-card outing aimed at accelerating development of the 2024-spec Yamaha M1.
The triple MotoGP race winner gets his first 2023 race outing during the Japanese MotoGP under the YAMALUBE RS4GP Racing Team banner. He will compete as a third factory-backed wildcard entry alongside regular Monster Energy Yamaha Racing riders Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli.
It marks his first race outing since the 2023 MotoGP finale in Valencia, the last of a six-event stint on the satellite RNF Racing Yamaha in place of Andrea Dovizioso.
Indeed, though Crutchlow hasn’t competed full-time since retiring at the end of the 2020 MotoGP season and taking on a development role at Yamaha, he has stayed match fit since then with this weekend’s Motegi round set to become his 11th appearance over the past three seasons.
A home soil wildcard normally reserved for a member of Yamaha’s Japanese test team, Crutchlow is keen to use the privilege as an opportunity to further development of next year’s M1.
“I’m looking forward to riding at the Japanese Grand Prix with the YAMALUBE RS4GP Racing Team. Essentially, they are my test team that I work with during the season. We’ve been working really hard this year to improve the bike for the Factory riders for the current season and next season.
“This wildcard will give us the opportunity to do something a little different over the course of the weekend and find the best possible set-up to help them for the Japan race weekend, the rest of the season, and potentially next year.
“I always enjoy going to Japan, to the country and the Motegi race circuit. I had a nice time visiting the Yamaha headquarters and factory, and I look forward to having a fun weekend.”
Making his MotoGP debut in 2011 with Tech 3 Yamaha, Crutchlow would go on to make 168 MotoGP starts prior to his retirement. During stints with Tech 3 Yamaha, the factory Ducati team and LCR Honda, Crutchlow scored three wins in the Czech Republic, Australia and Argentina, together with 19 podiums.