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LCR wants to hold on to de Puniet

Randy de PunietLCR Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello says he is keen to retain Randy de Puniet for a third season after the Frenchman's progress this year.

De Puniet has delivered the most consistent season of his hitherto erratic MotoGP career, finishing in the top ten eight times in the first 11 rounds, and taking third place at Donington Park, where he fought for victory in damp conditions. The British Grand Prix result was LCR's first MotoGP podium since Casey Stoner took second at Istanbul early in the squad's debut season three years ago.

Although de Puniet's form has tailed off recently after he fractured his left ankle in a motocross crash, the team is eager to keep him on board.

"Randy compared to last year is much more mature," Cecchinello told the official MotoGP website. "We would like to continue with him in the future.

"In general if we look at our results this year compared to the past, they are definitely better. This year we could even reach the podium, sometimes finish in the top five or top six, which is a very good result for us.

"Of course in the last races we have not so much luck because Randy's injury still has some pain. But in general, we are happy, honestly we are happy. The bike is definitely better, and we are happy with the the one tyre rule in MotoGP."

De Puniet has been mentioned as a contender for a Tech 3 Yamaha ride, while Cecchinello has hinted that his team could expand to a second bike for 2010.

With four rounds to go, de Puniet is currently ninth in the championship, nine points behind seventh-placed Loris Capirossi, having finished only 15th last year.

Cecchinello says his target for the rest of the year is get back to the forefront of the 'best of the rest' pack and regain a top eight championship position, which would equal Stoner's achievement in 2006.

"We have to be realistic, the first five or six riders are very, very strong, with very good bikes," said Cecchinello.

"I believe that after that we have the potential to finish the race with all of the other riders, and hopefully stay in the top seven or eight positions in the championship."

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De Puniet extends LCR contract