LCR Honda press release:
A 13-year experience in the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, an 8-year collaboration with Honda HRC, 71 podiums (21 victories), fourth year working with the very fast Frenchman Randy De Puniet and many dreams are the numbers and factors driving Lucio Cecchinello and the LCR Team towards the 2009 season “kick off” backed up by the highest determination ever.
After gaining Honda HRC trust for the fourth consecutive time in the premier class and after making official its collaboration with De Puniet last September, today the LCR Team is happy to get on track, for the first part of this season, “along with” the legendary rabbit in tails!
The LCR Team, in fact, has created the “Event Title Sponsor” format, which allows the design of communication and visibility programmes focusing on individual events, and in 2009, apart from the long-standing Title Sponsors, Playboy, the brand of erotism “par excellence” will dress all the No. 14 of the RC212Vs and Randy de Puniet.
Lucio Cecchinello: “We have been in touch with Playboy US for a long time and, taking advantage of the opportunity given by the presence of some American top executives part of Hugh Hefner entourage during his latest visit to Europe, we have defined the guidelines of a project allowing us to start negotiations with some of this evergreen brand’s global licensees. Playboy Italy has positively assessed the project and confirmed the sponsorship for the early stage of the season (MotoGP Championship Launch during the tests in Jerez de la Frontera, GP in Japan and Spain as Title Sponsor, GP in Qatar…unfortunately, we all know the kind of problems for that) linking it to their activities in the view of relaunching the magazine in Italy. Currently, there are further ongoing negotiations with licensees in more countries, who have been presented with our “projects by event” concept, which does not imply any millionaire investments”.
Let’s get back to the competitive aspect of the season just starting. The “kick off” will take place in Qatar next 12 April with all the 18 riders of the line-up, ready, more than ever, to battle on the tracks worldwide for the sought-after podium. Randy de Puniet join the battle in full. The 28-year old Frenchman is longing for revenge after a 2008 season where great performances during the tests were alternating with lacklustre performances in the races.
Lucio Cecchinello: “I have spent 22 years of my life on the circuits worldwide, 15 years riding a motorbike, and I believe I can judge a rider. Randy is talented, he’s fast, he has defeated riders like Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Elias etc.., he has been on the podium for 17 times, technically he has grown up impressively and we have to continue to work close together because I’m sure, and he proved it, that the MotoGP podium is not out of his reach”.
Randy de Puniet: “This is my fourth year with the LCR Team. During first year in 2003 in the 250cc class I had a lot of fun and I keep good memories. Last year wasn’t as easy and we didn’t achieve the results we were hoping for, therefore I trust this season to be the best with the LCR Team. I believe our potential is higher this year and I’m very confident”.
Lucio Cecchinello: “It’s clear that 2007 and 2008 for the independent teams were not easy years. Since the 800cc class made its appearance, it has become harder than ever to oppose the performance of the Factory Teams. Now we are approaching a phase where the Factories can even supply the satellite Teams with the state-of-the-art technologies and this will make us more competitive. In particular, Honda, for the year 2009, has really made a big effort by giving us the same engines as the ones they use, featuring the pneumatic valves technology and all the relevant managing software. Now it’s up to us working hard together with Randy to be ready to battle and, where possible, challenge the Factories riders”.
Randy de Puniet: “The first impression I got from the motorbike was very positive. The engine is more competitive compared to last year’s, especially as far as its maximum speed is concerned. However, the first competitive test in Malaysia didn’t go as well as we were hoping for, but later, in Qatar, we have improved the fine tuning and I hope for a further improvement in Jerez. I already have a 2-year experience with Bridgestone but the front tyre is now different. I will have to adjust my riding style to this grip but in Qatar we have already done a lot. I can still improve the feeling with the front tyre and be faster. We will have to work hard also on the racing set-up but there are all the prerequisites to have a highly competitive bike on track. My goal for the season is to race to the top even though my opponents are very tough. The Team and I want to show our potential but it’s too early to anticipate my placing”.
The current global economic situation as hit all sectors including professional sports. FIM and DORNA have worked together with MSMA (the building contractors association) providing quick and objective solutions in order to cut costs.
Lucio Cecchinello: “The current situation is not easy, however, drawing on a sentence from Max Mosley speech (FIA president) during the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monte Carlo, I agree on the fact that: stock markets quotations can come down, the currency values can drop, the economy can slow down but if we continue to offer the show I’m sure the number of TV viewers and fans following us on the circuits around the world won’t drop. When we think of the future we must think of keeping up with the show made of overtakings, breathtaking races, close finishes, burn out, wheeling and so on…These are all show aspects that can be offered to our public watching us on Saturdays and Sundays, even within the cost-cut policies. And if we are willing to give space to the use of new technologies we must make sure they satisfy a Factory’s objective and substantial interest. Referring to the cost saving we made a big step forward yet, but I am sure there are furthers actions to do without reducing the show!”.
Randy de Puniet: “The global economic situation is not easy and it is affecting our world. Some changes aiming at cutting the Team managing costs have been made, including the reduction of winter tests and the cancellation of Friday mornings testing sessions. Honestly, riding a motorbike is my passion and my work and the more time I spend on track the more chances I have to prepare my motorbike to the best and have fun. Maybe these changes won’t damage us as riders or maybe they will… it’s too early to say it. What I’m sure about is that the costs involved in the participation in a MotoGP season are really high and I wish the situation can improve keeping up with the show, which is the life blood of this sport”.