LCR Honda is to use a 'new approach' during the 2009 MotoGP season, in an effort to convert Randy de Puniet's impressive practice pace into race results.

2009 will be de Puniet's fourth year in MotoGP and second with LCR. The Frenchman's best season date was in 2007 with Kawasaki, when he took a debut podium on his way to eleventh in the world championship.

Last season's switch to LCR - for whom Randy had raced in 250GP - yielded impressive testing results, but ended with a best race result of sixth at Laguna Seca and just 15th in the championship, making him the lowest ranked RC212V rider.

But while de Puniet only finished in the top six once, he qualified in the top six no less than ten times - confirming his raw talent, but also that changes needed to be made.

On average, de Puniet qualified seventh and finished 13th, by far the biggest difference of any rider on the 2008 grid. de Puniet also failed to finish five of the 18 races.

"We tried to analyse all our mistakes last year, from the team side and the rider side," said team owner Lucio Cecchinello, during an exclusive interview with "We did a lot of brainstorming, analysing of data and so on. With Randy we tried to explain to him that we had quite different performances during practice and the races.

"In practice we would often be very competitive, near the fastest riders, but we need now to change our working system to find consistency to work with a race set-up always. To forget a 'lap time' set-up, let's say.

"We basically did the brainstorming, talked with Randy, and realised we needed to use a completely different working programme during practice. We were looking too much for performance; let's say 80% of the practice time was spent looking for performance and not for a race pace.

"So this year will be vice versa, we will spend 80% of our time working on race pace and only 20% on single lap time performance. We need to find a balance because last year we had incredible performance in practice and very low performances in the races.

"What this means is using a full fuel tank, using a very hard compound tyre to do a race distance, doing several more laps for each run, making suspension settings more suited to race pace... even the rider, mentally, needs to change his approach because he needs to take less risks, because he has to make longer runs."

Fellow Frenchman and triple (MX3) world motocross champion, Yves Demaria, was also seen assisting de Puniet at the Sepang test and may continue to offer his experience to the #14 throughout the year.

However, before any new working methods can be fully implemented, the team needs to find a base set-up for its new RC212V, which de Puniet took to 13th at the Sepang test.

"We started using the new approach [at Sepang] but because we have problems with the chassis, with the feeling from the front tyre and so on, we need to get a baseline set-up first," confirmed Cecchinello, a seven time 125GP race winner.

"It is really amazing what Honda has provided for us this year. It is a really nice pack of technology concentration. It is completely different bike from last year - completely different technologies, electronics and chassis.

"It is a really, really nice bike to look at, but let's say from the other side it is also really complicated. That's why we are struggling at the moment to give Randy the best feeling to ride this bike.

"Basically Randy likes the power of the pneumatic-valve engine, and likes the power delivery, which is very important. But he doesn't like the chassis. He doesn't have the proper feeling to enter corners quickly, which is hurting his lap time," Cecchinello concluded.

LCR joined the MotoGP class in 2006 with Casey Stoner, who gave the team its first premier-class pole and podium on his way to seventh in the world championship.



Loading Comments...