Another piece of the MotoGP puzzle fell into place today, with the news that Randy de Puniet has signed a deal with LCR Honda for two years. The move is something of a surprise, as the Kawasaki has been very impressive this year, in stark contrast to the Hondas, and especially the satellite bikes run by teams such as LCR. However, de Puniet and Lucio Cecchinello have a long history, the Frenchman having ridden for Cecchinello in the 250 class back in 2003 and 2004, to great success, winning 4 races and finishing 4th and 3rd in the championship.
De Puniet replaces Carlos Checa, the Spanish veteran who seems to be on the way towards retirement from active racing, despite a revival of his fortunes last year aboard the Tech 3 Yamaha. Checa has been offered a contract as a test rider with Ducati, but although he has made it clear his main goal is to continue competing, either in MotoGP or in World Superbikes, his future as a test rider is looking more and more likely.
With de Puniet leaving Kawasaki, the field for the final bike at Team Green is starting to narrow. Current favorites are Ant West, who has been very impressive in the few races he has run so far this year, and Kawasaki's prodigal son Shinya Nakano, who has had a miserable time aboard the Konica Minolta Honda ever since leaving Kawasaki. There have also been reports in the Spanish media that Dani Pedrosa is in talks with Kawasaki, but Kawasaki have denied this so far. Kawasaki are due to make an announcement about their rider line up after the next Grand Prix at Misano.