Randy De Puniet is to make a return to racing full time. As had been rumored for some weeks now, the Frenchman is to make the switch to the World Superbike series, where he will join the Crescent Suzuki team for 2015. De Puniet will race alongside Alex Lowes next year, aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
After losing his ride with the Aspar team at the end of 2013, De Puniet has spent 2014 as Suzuki's official test rider, helping to develop the bike now dubbed the GSX-RR. The only racing action he had seen was with the Yoshimura team during the Suzuka 8 Hour race, where he finished in second place with teammates Josh Waters and Takuya Tsuda. But De Puniet was keen to return to racing full time, and with no vacancies in MotoGP, the World Superbike series was the obvious choice. Racing with the Crescent team allows him to stay with Suzuki as a test rider, and retain his strong ties with the Japanese factories.
Alongside his duties in WSBK, De Puniet will continue development work on the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP machine, with a particular focus on 2016. De Puniet will mainly be working on getting the GSX-RR to work with the Michelin tires, due to replace Bridgestone at the start of the 2016 season. He will also be helping to make the bike work with the so-called unified software which is to be introduced at the same time.
The Crescent Suzuki press release announcing the signing of De Puniet appears below:
Randy de Puniet joins Crescent Suzuki World Superbike for 2015
Crescent Suzuki is delighted to announce its completed rider line-up for the 2015 FIM Superbike World Championship as world-renowned competitor and current Suzuki MotoGP™ test rider Randy de Puniet joins the UK-based team alongside Alex Lowes.
A long-standing racer in Grand Prix, de Puniet has amassed 139 MotoGP race starts and five 250cc GP race wins during his 15 years on the world stage so far. During 2014, he has become instrumental to the development of Suzuki’s 2015 return to GP competition with the all-new GSX-RR.
The 33-year-old Frenchman will enter the World Superbike series full-time with his new Crescent Suzuki squad for the 2015 season but will also continue to test the Suzuki GP machine, with particular responsibility for matching the bike’s performance to MotoGP’s new 2016 tyre provider. De Puniet is very motivated for competitive action aboard the World Superbike specification GSX-R1000, after his successful second-place result as part of the Yoshimura team in the 2014 Suzuka 8 hour endurance race.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will complete its last race of the 2014 season with current riders Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes at the Losail International Circuit, in Qatar, on November 2nd, before beginning an extensive winter of testing and development with de Puniet and Lowes.
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m so happy to be joining Crescent Suzuki for the Superbike World Championship because my target for 2015 was to get back to competing on the race track. Testing for the past year was ok but of course what I really want is to race! I really enjoyed racing in Suzuka this year – to race, to fight and to be on the podium is everything to me. I had the opportunity to join the Crescent team for next year and I’m really happy; my first priority was to stay with Suzuki because I want to stay within this family, and for me this is a new challenge – a new championship, new bike, new tyre, everything is different and I have many things to learn but I am ready for that and I’m very confident. I will be joining a very strong team with a lot of experience and I think the bike will be good next year. We have a good test plan for this winter and I think we will be ready for the first race in Phillip Island next year.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We couldn’t be happier to have secured Randy’s agreement to compete in the 2015 World Superbike Championship on board our GSX-R1000. We needed a high quality rider to replace Eugene; Randy was the obvious choice, and we are very proud to have gained his trust and commitment to race with us next year.
“He has impressed Suzuki this year with his hard work and feedback as test rider on the Grand Prix GSX-RR, but Randy’s racing pedigree is also beyond doubt and his potential to succeed on the Superbike is clear. This is not a commercially driven deal – the primary motivation is simply to race! After an acclimatisation period to learn the GSX-R1000 and the Pirelli tyres, I see no reason why he won’t be an absolute front runner. Randy’s close working relationship with the Suzuki Factory can also only be positive for the World Superbike project, and the whole team is very excited about getting down to work, and turning 2014’s potential into solid results for both riders next season.”