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Randy ready to shine?

"Honda's plan is that the new [satellite] engine will be the same engine that Repsol Honda finished the 2007 season with," detailed de Puniet's team boss Lucio Cecchinello, himself a former grand prix star. "They know it is a competitive engine and it allows them to work on developing some new technology for the factory team."

Cecchinello, the man who gave Casey Stoner his MotoGP break in 2006, admitted he's also been surprised by the short amount of time taken for de Puniet, who previously rode for LCR in 250GP, to reach the top. Nevertheless, he won't be getting carried away.

"We knew that Randy is a very fast rider but we didn't expect such results so quick," the Italian told, "but I want to keep our feet on the ground because it is only testing and the teams are not all trying for the best single lap, most of them are working more on set-up."

But could de Puniet follow in the footsteps of Marco Melandri, Toni Elias, Sete Gibernau, Alex Barros, Makoto Tamada and Max Biaggi and win a four-stroke MotoGP race as a satellite Honda rider? That's certainly his goal...

"I hope to keep this level going. For sure the Jerez test will be more difficult because we had some problems at the last test there, but we will see what happens before then at Australia and Qatar, two 'new' tracks. I hope to arrive at the first GP at the maximum," said Randy. "The most important thing for me is to have a very good season - finish every race, get a lot of podiums and I would like to win my first MotoGP race this year. We will see..."

de Puniet's raw speed has rarely been in doubt, but - as he hinted - his main weakness has been a tendency to fall while pushing too hard... something that Stoner also suffered prior to 2007.

Related Pictures

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De Puniet, Sepang MotoGP Test January 2007
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De Puniet, Sepang MotoGP Test January 2008
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Morning (left) and afternoon (right) lap times from Weds at Barcelona test

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