As reported last week, LCR has finally announced that they have signed the 2011 Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl to race in MotoGP for the team next season. The German has signed a two-year deal with Lucio Cecchinello's LCR squad to race in MotoGP for 2012 and 2013.
Bradl had looked set to defend his #1 plate in Moto2 for 2012, but when the German was given the chance to test the 800cc Honda at Valencia, it was clear that this was to be an audition for the German, an opportunity to show his ability on a MotoGP bike. Bradl did all that and more, impressing team boss Cecchinello, crew chief Christophe Bourgignon and Honda marketing director Livio Suppo. With Germany such an important market for Dorna and for Honda, and with Bradl lapping faster than Toni Elias had at the same test last year, his contract was a foregone conclusion. It took a few days to iron out the details, but it is now official.
The two-year contract poses some interesting questions. With Dorna CEO having told Spanish journalist Mela Chercoles in a recent interview that he would stop financially supporting teams leasing satellite bikes from the MSMA members from the 2013 season, it will be interesting to see what Bradl will have to ride in his second year of MotoGP. Cecchinello has been relatively successful in raising money for his team, but the 4.5 million euros demanded by Honda for a satellite machine is beyond his ability to pay. Bradl could find himself on a CRT-spec machine for 2013, along with the rest of the satellite riders, unless he has written a clause excluding this option into his contract.
Bradl's signing brings to 16 the number of confirmed signings in MotoGP for next year, with the current grid looking likely to be 22 or 23 strong.
Below is the official press release from LCR Honda, including the new logo they will use from 2012:
STEFAN BRADL TO RIDE FOR LCR HONDA MOTOGP TEAM
LCR Honda MotoGP Team is pleased to announce that today the 17th of November 2011 have signed a deal with the new Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl competing in the premier class for the following two years.
LCR Team is ready to line up in the MotoGP class for the 7th season thanks to their renewed cooperation with Honda HRC. Once again the former rider Lucio Cecchinello takes on track a young talented rider with the aim to start a new challenge related also to the new technical rules of the premier class (1000cc).
Lucio Cecchinello – Team Manager
"Next year will be very important for the MotoGP; starting from next April the championship will be rich of new technical rules and participants. Together with Honda we have considered several riders and Stefan was one of our candidates. After the test in Valencia we were very impressed by his potential and his determination: Stefan is young and fast and he just clinched the Moto2 World Title so we believe we can grow together with the Team in the next two years. He already knew the technical staff and today I am happy to give him our warmest welcome in the LCR Team!".
Stefan Bradl – Rider
"This is simply fantastic like a dream that comes true! When I tested the RC212V in Valencia I realized that LCR Team is very professional and well organized so I am sure they will do their best to support me: making my debut in the premier class aboard the RC213V is great and I can not wait to get back on track".
The LCR Team is also pleased to present his new Corporate Logo created with a new 3D layout that, starting from 2012, will be displayed in the Team publications and graphics.