After months’ of rumours circulating on the internet it now appears that the Monaca-based LCR team has indeed teamed up with Italian Playboy for the first few races of the 2009 season.
Team LCR principal, Lucio Cecchinello, says, “We have been in touch with Playboy US for a long time and we have defined the guidelines of a project allowing us to start negotiations with some of this evergreen brand’s global licensees.
“Playboy Italy has positively assessed the project and confirmed the sponsorship for the early stage of the season linking it to their activities in the view of relaunching the magazine in Italy.”
Honda LCR, which helped launch the career of Casey Stoner, is home to French racer Randy de Puniet who remains the sole rider for the 09 season. The new livery was first shown-off at the tests in Jerez, but if you missed that you will be able to see it again at the Spanish and Japanese GPs.
The Italian team boss also previewed the forthcoming season and acknowledged the need for an improvement in results after an inconsistent campaign for De Puniet last season. Cecchinello believes his rider will have more competitive machinery this season thanks to a step up in support from HRC. The team is pinning its hope for the 2009 season to a Honda RC212V.
“It's clear that 2007 and 2008 for the independent teams were not easy years,” said the LCR boss. “Since the 800cc class made its appearance, it has become harder than ever to compete with the factory teams. Now we are approaching a phase where the factories can even supply the satellite teams with the state-of-the-art technologies and this will make us more competitive.”
De Puniet summarised the preseason saying, “The first impression I got from the bike was very positive. The engine is more competitive compared to last year’s, especially as far as its maximum speed is concerned.”
Of course no Playboy sponsorship would be complete without a saucy photoshoot. Although there are several more images from the shoot (showing the Playmate in an increasingly undressed state), we have limited ourselves to the more, erm, respectable shots.