MotoGP Cal Crutchlow has become such an integral figure in the MotoGP world championship that Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta is working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to ensure the British rider has the best deal possible for 2014 and beyond.
Crutchlow’s impressive transformation from struggling rookie in 2011 to consistent podium challenger in less than three years has seen his popularity rocket, particularly in the UK, which is a key market for MotoGP rights owners Dorna.
The British rider is now seen as one of the sport’s potential box office attractions capable of filling the huge void when universally popular Valentino Rossi retires.
Dorna boss Ezpeleta can’t speak highly enough of Crutchlow, who became the first British rider in 12 years in Assen last weekend to claim a premier class podium.
The former World Supersport champion has finished on the podium in three of the last four races, including a third in Assen behind Rossi and Marc Marquez.
Crutchlow is currently locked in negotiations over an extended Monster Yamaha Tech 3 deal, though he is adamant he wants a much better financial and technical package than what he has now to stay.
That includes a pay hike and the assurance of more factory support behind his YZR-M1.
He’s also locked in talks with Ducati again, with the struggling Bologna factory determined to tempt him away from Yamaha to try and drag its Desmosedici out of the doldrums.
Crutchlow has always maintained that his first choice for 2014 is to remain with Herve Poncharal’s French-based Tech 3 outfit, but with improved personal and technical conditions.
Ezpeleta has also suggested that his preference would be for Crutchlow to remain in Yamaha, though the situation is a contractual minefield.
Yamaha has been rumoured to have signed Moto2 title contender Pol Espargaro months ago for a slot at Tech 3. And with British rookie Bradley Smith also under contract for 2014 and managed by the same company that represent Crutchlow, negotiations are far from straightforward.
Speaking exclusively to MCN recently, Ezpeleta said: “For us the position of Cal is very important and we have discussed with the board of directors at Dorna and it is a company decision to try and help him in the best possible way and to have the best possible equipment to race successfully.
The ideal scenario is to continue with Yamaha but they need to be happy and also Cal. If it is not that then we will have to open up other opportunities but Cal is doing very well. He is also a fantastic personality and everybody is happy with him.
We have discovered somebody who is really fantastic on and off the track. We have communicated to Yamaha that we would like them to have Cal in 2014. I understand that everyone is free to make their own decision but I have told them that for the championship it is very important.
We are also working with Herve but right now there is a lot of interest in Cal and he is a fantastic asset for MotoGP. I am trying to understand what everybody wants and then maybe we can help set something up. I am talking a lot with Herve and also with Cal.”