Having seen an impressively strong challenge in 2010 brutally and frustratingly curtailed by his mid-summer German Grand Prix injury, Randy de Puniet hopes that a change of team next year will provide him with the springboard to successfully achieve his finest campaign in MotoGP to-date.
His fifth season in the premier class, 2010 began in such promising fashion for de Puniet with LCR Honda, as no fewer than five top six finishes from the opening eight races saw him leave Catalunya – scene of a brilliant fourth position, what would transpire to be his best result of the year and an undeniable highlight – sitting a superb fifth in the riders' standings.
And then, only a fortnight afterwards, came his race-stopping accident at the Sachsenring, when in a fiery coming-together with Pramac rival Aleix Espargaró and Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista, the Frenchman was left with fractures to his left tibia and fibula.
Despite a rapid return to the grid at Brno in the Czech Republic less than a month later, the momentum was gone – and a sole sixth place from the subsequent nine outings saw de Puniet slip to ninth in the final rankings, although in taking the chequered flag in every race bar Aragon, his consistency remained laudable.
“My 2010 season was in two parts,” he acknowledged, speaking to Crash.net Radio
. “The first part, until my injury, was perfect because I was fifth in the championship and had some very good races, but after that I broke my ankle and my leg. I came back as soon as possible, but the last part of the season was not so easy even if I finished five or six times in the top ten.
“It was difficult, because my left leg was not so strong, and it was forbidden for me to crash again. After that, I had a lot of problems changing gear due to my ankle, also because I broke it last year, too. That's why it was difficult, and after the good first part of the season, I was disappointed with the final result of ninth in the championship. For sure, [without the injury] I would have been able to fight Ben Spies to be the first satellite rider, but that's life. I gave my best all season, and I have no regrets.”
Describing his three consecutive front row starts – second at Silverstone and Assen, and third at Catalunya – as 'perfect' and the last eight races as 'good' in the circumstances, de Puniet is now looking forwards rather than back, having jumped ship following three years with LCR Honda to Pramac Ducati, where he says he has settled in well. Lapping comfortably quicker than Toni Elías on his old bike in post-season Valencia testing last month was an encouraging start.
“I wanted a change,” the 29-year-old affirmed. “After three years in the team, I had some good memories with LCR, but the last part of the  season was difficult. I really wanted to ride for either Ducati or Suzuki. Suzuki wasn't possible, but Ducati is a good challenge for me and I'm very happy at Pramac. After the first test I feel very confident, because I had a very good feeling with the bike and the team.
“I like the front end of the bike – it's a style that suits me – and the engine characteristics and top speed are much better [than the Honda]. The only negative point is the entry into corners on the brakes, but we worked a lot in Valencia and found a good set-up. That's why I'm confident, because I was faster than the Honda after just 40 or 50 laps.