Ducati’s announcement that it had hired Cal Crutchlow to ride its MotoGP bike for two years came out neat and smooth—no need to exploit an off-the-cuff statement made by the CEO, like I did three years ago when Ducati hired Valentino Rossi.
Crutchlow will replace Nicky Hayden. The Briton is a straight shooter, and he does not live by an accurately organized storybook. Currently fifth in the MotoGP championship provisional ranking, Crutchlow is, by far, the most proficient, aggressive and determined “privateer” of this new generation. He had his highest moment at June’s Assen TT, where he qualified in pole position, and has been four times on the rostrum, though not yet on the top step.
Once again, Crutchlow will share a garage with Andrea Dovizioso, and it is hard to tell how the two will live this renewed partnership. Given his daring riding style, Crutchlow might be the right man to unplug whatever potential may still be left in the Desmosedici, a bike that apparently has been unable to establish a positive dialog with its riders since Casey Stoner left the team after the 2010 season.
Crutchlow deserves to step up to a top team position. Ducati, with its massive (albeit possibly in question) Marlboro sponsorship, is fit to offer him a great ride, although the current bike will need more than just a new paint job to become a winner.
In its announcement, Ducati thanked Hayden for his hard work, dedication, great teamwork and pleasant personality, while formally granting him all the technical support he may need to complete the current season with flying colors.