De Puniet Extends Deal With LCR, Gets Better Equipment

Randy de Puniet has been one of the revelations of the 2009 season. The Frenchman has lost his reputation for being the first to hit the gravel trap, and instead become one of the men most likely to get on the podium, despite having only a satellite spec Honda RC212V at his disposal. De Puniet's transformation is in part down to the spec Bridgestone tires, and in part down to a new training regime, as he told in an interview earlier this year.

His improvement has clearly paid off. De Puniet was one of the riders being courted by a number of teams, with both the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team expressing an interest as well as his existing LCR Honda team. For De Puniet, the key to the negotations was the level of machinery the teams could provide, the Frenchman growing frustrated with trying to compete on clearly inferior equipment.

De Puniet is to get what he wants. According to the French site Moto Caradisiac (and later confirmed in a press release), LCR Honda announced today that they have signed a new one-year deal with De Puniet. Along with the contract comes an interesting guarantee: LCR Honda will be the first of the teams to make use of the switch in policy by HRC to provide factory-spec equipment to satellite teams at an increased lease price. Under the arrangement, LCR will receive a Honda RC212V which is very close to the factory machines provided to Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa, getting updates to the bike a few races after the Repsol Honda team.

Higher costs mean more sponsorship will be needed, and a combination of De Puniet's excellent results and Lucio Cecchinello's innovative sponsorship model may well be paying off in this regard. With De Puniet already competitive on satellite spec equipment, better equipment should help De Puniet get better results and therefore Cecchinello attract more money.

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Say if Repsol Honda factory bikes did not improve by a huge margin for a few races, would the satellite "factory bikes" be catching up on the Repsol Honda or see themselves in the same distance few races ago, forever the 2nd tier factory bikes?

I understand if Repsol is consistently getting new upgrades, yes, they should be far ahead but there are times when there would be technology "down time" too, or racers refusing some major upgrades. An example would be, a new engine is introduced and Repsol boys are not willing to take the risk and stick with current one. Couple of races later, can LCR take the risk and ask to run that new engine?

"...and instead become one of the men most likely to get on the podium,..."

He's finished on the podium twice in his entire MotoGP career (three full seasons before this year), including 3rd place in the freakish Donnington race this year. Other than that, he's had one 4th and one 7th in 2009. At year's end he's never been in the top 10; since he's currently 9th, it remains to be seen if he'll do that this year.

He's lucky he'll still be in MotoGP next year.

Looking at RdP's results this year and comparing them to previous years, I come to a totally different conclusion.

This season, RdP has regularly beaten factory guys on a 3rd tier satellite bike.

Previous season can clearly be ignored as irrelevant since the crashing has stopped. Given a better bike, I would expect, at the very least, that RdP will beat Edwards more often and Edwards is probably the most successful satellite rider and is on a much, much better bike.