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MotoGP Japanese GP

Crutchlow set for Japan MotoGP wildcard with Yamaha

Three-time MotoGP race winner Cal Crutchlow is set to make a wildcard appearance for Yamaha at the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Factory Racing

Crutchlow made his MotoGP debut with the Tech3 Yamaha squad in 2011 having competed in World Superbikes with the Japanese marque.

Scoring his first MotoGP podiums with Yamaha, Crutchlow moved to Ducati in 2014 before switching to Honda with LCR from 2015, with which he won all three of his grands prix.

Retiring from racing at the end of the 2020 season, Crutchlow returned to Yamaha as its official tester, and has made sporadic appearances since then as a replacement rider – the most recent being last year’s Valencia GP, concluding his stint with RNF as Andrea Dovizioso’s stand-in for the final six rounds.

Speaking to Motorsport.com's sister website Motorsport-Total.com, Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli confirmed Crutchlow will return to competition at the Japanese GP as a wildcard.

“We are very happy with Cal,” he said.

“In addition, we are pushing to increase the number of training days in Europe.

“We have already decided that this year we will do a wildcard in Motegi, and I hope there will be a second one.”

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Factory Racing

Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 2023 season has been immensely difficult for Yamaha, with the marque scoring just two podiums courtesy of Fabio Quartararo – who was third in the Americas GP, and third in the Dutch GP sprint following a track limits penalty for Brad Binder.

Over the past few months, Quartararo has complained about the fact the Yamaha hasn’t improved much since he has been with the marque from 2019 and went into the summer break lacking in confidence that it could make any steps forward in the second half of the season.

Yamaha currently sits bottom of the manufacturers’ standings, seven points adrift of the similarly struggling Honda – which has at least scored one victory in 2023, courtesy of Alex Rins at the Americas GP.

Crutchlow’s wildcard outing in Japan will be a rare opportunity for Yamaha to gather additional data during a race weekend, having lost its satellite squad for 2023 after RNF elected to sign with Aprilia.

The Briton is contracted with Yamaha through to the end of 2023.

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