A&R Patron Saint, Randy de Puniet confirmed this weekend at Valencia that he has signed with the Pramac Ducati team for the 2011 season. Making his announcement at the conclusion of Saturday’s qualifying session, de Puniet is the second-to-last unconfirmed rider for next season, as now everyone waits to hear Gresini Honda’s confirmation of Hiroshi Aoyama to its quasi-satellite team.
The Gresini squad is likely waiting for the Repsol Honda team to confirm how it will handle having three marquis riders under one tent, as HRC has signed Dani Pedorsa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso. At one point there was talk of having Dovi take a seat in Gresini, with the promise of factory support from HRC.
For Randy de Puniet, the announcement ends speculation as to what would happen to the French rider, since Toni Elias has moved back into MotoGP and taken de Puniet’s spot a LCR Honda. The 2010 MotoGP Silly Season had linked de Puniet to Rizla Suzuki, Gresini Honda, and Pramac Ducati, but all that speculation can finally come to a conclusion.
De Puniet had a breakthrough season this year, despite breaking his leg at Sachsenring, rivaling the factory Hondas early-on in the season, and finding a new consistency to his form. Known for his brash riding style, de Puniet was often found in the gravel traps last year, but for 2010 the Frenchman has found the happy medium between riding on the edge, and bringing the bike home.
His addition to the Pramac Ducati team is likely viewed as a stepping-stone for de Puniet to the factory Ducati team, although the Frenchman is reportedly less than enthused about the move. Pramac Ducati is a virtual training ground for Ducati Corse, where its junior technicians and mechanics get a taste of the big show before being drafted into the factory team. Despite this, it’s rumored that Dorna had to step-in and make the deal happen.
Source: Moto Revue