Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal might be desperate to keep Cal Crutchlow for 2014 but admits the British rider could be seriously tempted to switch to Ducati’s factory squad.
Crutchlow has made it clear his ideal scenario for 2014 is to remain in Poncharal’s French-based Tech 3 squad, but on an improved financial and technical package.
The former World Supersport champion has also spoken frequently about his desire to be a full factory supported rider and he came close to switching to Ducati at this stage last year before talks collapsed.
Crutchlow is negotiating with Bologna factory management again and with Ducati now owned by Audi, he is likely to be able to get a much better pay deal by gambling on taming the beastly Desmosedici than staying in Yamaha's satellite squad.
Crutchlow, who is currently in Argentina taking part in a two-day test at the new Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo, is in the form of his life after becoming the first British rider in 12 years in Assen to claim a premier class pole position.
He followed that up with a third podium in the last four races and Ducati is now pushing hard to persuade him to move and be re-united with 2012 Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
Speaking exclusively to MCN, Poncharal said: “I know there is big interest from Ducati in Cal and if that would happen it is quite funny because that means in 2014 they could have the 2012 Tech 3 line-up and that was not a bad team.
"His ultimate goal is to be a full factory rider. That won’t be happening at Yamaha for at least another 18 months. Is it better to go to a full factory team like Ducati where you might start behind but the challenge is to catch up?
"You like to win but it is even more exciting and rewarding if you win on something you have built together with the factory. I am sure this is something that Cal is considering at the moment. Dovi admits things are not easy but the chance to turn it around gives you some excitement.
"Most people will say the best thing for Cal would be to stay with Yamaha and he has made it very clear he would like to remain with us but with a few things changing. An important thing is money but nobody has unlimited budgets.
"We know what Cal would like. Can we make it happen? We have to wait and see. The bottom line is how much we can spend and we have to speak with Monster and Yamaha.
Everything is open and the only thing that is sure is that everybody understands the value of Cal.”
Much on whether Crutchlow remains at Tech 3 depends on Yamaha and Monster stepping in with additional support.
Is Yamaha willing to give similar technical support to reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi? And can sponsors like Monster, who also have a long-standing personal endorsement with the Isle of Man-based rider, contribute additional finances to supplement his salary from Tech 3.
The UK is the biggest market for Monster in Europe and the most powerful figures inside the American energy drink giant are pushing hard to keep Crutchlow at Tech 3.
Monster has been the title sponsor of Tech 3 since 2009 and Poncharal added: “Monster has been with Cal for many years and he has more Monster visibility than anybody else. They have made it very clear it is important to retain Cal.
"The UK is by far Monster’s biggest market in Europe, so they would love to keep him and many people want to keep him inside Yamaha. But in both there are limited resources and they can only do so much.
"Then there will be some technical details to discuss with Yamaha and can we reach that? We know the policy is always the factory team get priority and they have new parts and develop.”
Management sources close to Crutchlow confirmed that Monster was open to increasing its financial support to keep him at Tech 3.
“They have been very open to that, “said the source. “From a commercial and marketing standpoint then absolutely Cal means more to Monster by staying where he is.”