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GP Week : Issue 185
Only Valentino Rossi has clocked up more GP starts, but not even Rossi has ridden as many different MotoGP bikes as Randy de Puniet. The 32-year-old Frenchman is set for his 250th GP later this season, and his Power electronics ART Aprilia follows races on Kawasaki, Honda and Ducati. More still, Randy is fresh from his new role as part-time tester for the new factory suzuki. GPWeeK: First, what is the suzuki like? RANDY DE PUNIET: I think we showed the performance of the bike. At Barcelona we were very fast; at Aragon we had some problems at the beginning, but at the end the lap time was good. It is a good thing for me ... I was disappointed after they said they will not come back until 2015, because it is one opportunity less to be on a good bike next year. But our plan was only ever testing in 2013. Possibly I could continue testing next year, but I want to be a full-time rider and not only a test rider. It was possible this year, but I don’t know if so next year. Your lap times were faster than on your racing ART. Faster than that, but for me the important thing is not to be very fast but to give good information on this bike. And to try to find also some solution to be faster on the ART, because my main programme is to be a permanent rider for Aspar, and I really want to come back to the top level. From the beginning of this year I’ve struggled with the setting and I am not confident. If the Suzuki testing can help me to be faster there, I will be happy also. You have been GP racing for half your life. Looking back, what stands out? Sure I did many things good and many things ... not good. For me the worst was 2007, when I was with Kawasaki and I never received a contract to stay with them in 2008. I thought I had done a good season, and the work was not finished. Anyway in 2008 I jumped to the LCR team, and it was difficult, and in 2009 I broke my ankle in a stupid crash in motocross. I finished 11th. Then 2010 until I broke my leg in Sachsenring it was like a dream season ... I was fourth in the championship, three front row starts and one rostrum – unfortunately I crashed in practice on oil after Lorenzo broke his engine and broke my right ankle: I decided to start in the race ... I crashed and Kallio hit my legs, and broke the tibia and fibula. I finished that season ninth. 2011 the Ducati Pramac was a nightmare, and after that I started to develop the ART machine with Aspar and Aprilia. And that’s it. And looking forward? I know the top level and I know this is a little bit more difficult, but I continue to push one day to get a better bike, more competitive ... not a factory bike because I don’t dream, but something top five or six...Iamstillabletodothat.WhenIsawwhatI did with the Suzuki, I think I have the potential. I think I can still do something good. I have no contract for next year, but I really want to stay in GP. Best bike, worst bike? The best I think was the Kawasaki in the second part of the 2007 season. The engine was incredible; I was very confident with the bike. Also the Honda in 2010 was good: but my bike was not so close to the factory bikes. It was like a good satellite bike; but 2007 the Kawasaki was one of the best. I finished fourth in Malaysia, one second behind the Hondas and Yamahas. The worst bike ... difficult, because sure Ducati was not easy. Also 2008 the Honda was not so good. I struggled a lot with the front Michelin, I crashed a lot – I was fast, but too many crashes. You have a record of a lot of crashes. Why so many? Because I try to give 100 percent and sometimes more. I had some stupid crashes in my career because ... I lost focus or something like that. I always want to have no regret when I leave on Sunday after the race. That’s why sometimes I crash. Then you go straight back out, without slowing down? Yeah, because when you know why you crash, it is easy to manage. I had a difficult period when I broke my legs in 2010, because just after that Tomizawa died in a very similar crash. I had two difficult races – Misano I was sixth on the grid, I took a good start, and I don’t know what happened but I slowed down in the race. And again also with Marco (Simoncelli, also fatally injured), it was not so easy. It took me time in 2010. It was my first big, big accident ... and you know I had something in my legs and not my stomach, and I was still there. Two months later the guy had the same crash – and he died. I decided to continue, but it was not so easy. Do you ever get scared? Yeah – you need to be scared, because if you are not you finish in the wall. Not always scared, but you are very close to the limit. This is the fear that you like. 5 MINuTEs WITH RANDy DE PuNIET On the eve of the weekend's Dutch MotoGP, MICHAeL sCOTT spoke to one of the most experienced riders on the grid 5 MINUTES 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: