Cal Crutchlow reveals Yamaha talks with Pol Espargaro
Cal Crutchlow says Yamaha are in talks to replace him at Tech 3 with Spanish Moto2 rider Pol Espargaro in 2014.
The Briton revealed he was informed of Yamaha's interest in Espargaro by his team owner at Tech 3, Herve Poncharal.
"He told me that Yamaha are potentially going to sign Pol and [Tech 3] will have to take him for the first year," Crutchlow told BBC Sport.
"The rumour is that he's going to be getting a factory bike and doing a two-year deal with the Yamaha factory."
The 26-year-old, whose contract with the satellite team runs out at the end of 2013, is currently fifth in the MotoGP championship, the top privateer.
Espargaro, 21, who finished second behind Marc Marquez in the Moto2 championship in 2012, was first linked with a Tech 3 seat last year, when Crutchlow held brief talks with Ducati about a factory ride. He is the younger brother of Aleix Espargaro, the top CRT ('claiming rule team' - non-factory or satellite teams) rider in the premier class with the Aspar team.
Reports in January suggested the Spaniard had already signed a "letter of intent" with Yamaha Motor Racing. Yamaha had previously signed a pre-contract with Jorge Lorenzo in 2006, before signing him as a rookie into the factory team in 2008.
Crutchlow has been critical of what he perceives as Yamaha's lack of factory support for its satellite team, in contrast to Ducati and Honda whose satellite outfits are supported with factory bikes.
"If we're finishing near the front why would we not be getting a factory bike and the benefits of being in a factory team?" he said.
Under current regulations, no manufacturers are allowed more than four of their prototypes on the grid. Yamaha factory pair Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and Crutchlow's Tech 3 team-mate Bradley Smith are all contracted until the end of 2014.
Ducati's Nicky Hayden and Pramac Racing's Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone are the only other riders on factory or factory-supported bikes whose contracts do not extend past 2013.