Randy de Puniet's LCR Honda RC212V Lands Playboy Sponsorship Agreement.
Lucio Cecchinello's premier class Honda satellite outfit LCR Honda are all geared up for the new season with a new bike and an exciting new sponsor.
As the team prepare for their fourth season in the premier class working closely with HRC, Cecchinello has reached an agreement with Playboy for the global brand's licensees to act as ‘Event Title Sponsors' at individual Grands Prix this season.
Randy de Puniet remains as Cecchinello's sole rider in 2009 and the fiery Frenchman, no stranger to glamour himself with his ‘pin-up' good looks, will have the famous bunny logo promoting Playboy Italy on his leathers and his 800cc RC212V in the early part of the year.
Cecchinello explains, "We have been in touch with Playboy US for a long time and 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 (during the test in Jerez and the GPs in Japan and Spain as title sponsor) linking it to their activities in the view of relaunching the magazine in Italy."
He continued, "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."
The Italian team boss also previewed the forthcoming season, ahead of the Official MotoGP Test in Jerez this weekend, acknowledging the need for an improvement in results after an inconsistent campaign for De Puniet last season. Cecchinello believes his rider will have more competitive machinery this season thanks to a step up in support from HRC.
"It's clear that 2007 and 2008 for the independent teams were not easy years," said the LCR boss. "Since the 800cc class made its appearance, it has become harder than ever to compete with 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."
"Honda, in particular, has really made a big effort for 2009 by giving us the same engines as the ones they use, featuring pneumatic valve technology and all the relevant managing software," Cecchinello added. "Now it's up to us, working hard with Randy to be ready to battle and, where possible, challenge the factory riders."
For his part, De Puniet summarised the preseason saying, "The first impression I got from the bike was very positive. The engine is more competitive compared to last year's, especially as far as its maximum speed is concerned. The first test in Malaysia didn't go as well as we were hoping for, but later, in Qatar, we improved the fine tuning and I hope for a further improvement in Jerez."
The 28 year-old went on to say, "I already have two years of experience with Bridgestone (from his time with Kawasaki in 2006 and 2007) 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."