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GP Week : Issue 88
Satellite Honda rider Randy de Puniet is getting under the fast guys' noses. Literally. The daring Frenchman is becoming a front-row regular, and a pest in the races. Worst of all, his riding style is spectacular, as he urges his second-string bike to match the full factory machines. The fans love it. How could you not? He's brilliantly and easily the best of the non-factory guys, lying sixth in the championship ahead of Stoner. But that rider was very clear in his criticism, after battling with de Puniet almost all race long at Mugello: "I never saw him hit the same spot twice. His overtakes were usually because he'd missed his braking point and was on the wrong line. I don't know how he survives the weekend," he said. At Silverstone, Hayden had a similar experience, but had a grudging respect for the latest crazy Frenchman (anyone remember Christian Sarron?): "I wouldn't say he's the smoothest, but give him credit -- there's no lack of effort. There's no lack of guts. I can't knock a guy for riding hard." At Assen, it was Dovizioso's turn: they changed places eight times in the last two laps alone, Dovi only getting finally ahead when Randy outbraked him, then overshot the chicane entry. He had his own conclusion: "He has his bike set up for very late braking. Randy's riding style makes him very difficult to overtake." Surely that is part of the job description. De Puniet ruffles the factory feathers Moto GP Dutch TT >> 43