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Cecchinello signs Stoner for MotoGP challenge

Cecchinello signs Stoner for MotoGP challenge

Cecchinello signs Stoner for MotoGP challenge

Casey Stoner will ride for Lucio Cecchinello's LCR team in 2006 with the Italian outfit having secured a deal with Honda Racing Corporation to enter a RC211V in next year's MotoGP World Championship.

A press release published by the team on Monday evening announced the deal with Honda without confirming their rider, but team manager Cecchinello explained to that the young Australian is set to sign on.

"Casey contacted me to tell me that he was available and we quickly reached an agreement," said Cecchinello. "We just have to sign the amended contract. Stoner was contracted by the team to race in the 250cc World Championship in 2005 and 2006, with an option to move up to MotoGP in 2007. So the new deal will specify that he will race for us, in the MotoGP class, for the two next seasons."

"We have agreed on the terms of the deal with the rider, we just have to sort out a few technical details, which should be quickly addressed. Casey is flying today from Australia to sign the new contract. On our side, the team will have a meeting session this week so we can start to organize next season and plan all we need to do for this new challenge."

Cecchinello revealed that his original plans were thrown into doubt when Stoner agreed to test with the Honda Pons team at both Valencia and Sepang. He thought he had lost the Australian, but was relieved when Stoner got back in contact and informed him he was still a free agent.

"It has been a pretty difficult period after the end of the season," Cecchinello continued. "Before the end of the championship we were clearly looking at a move to the MotoGP class. We had the rider, an agreement with Yamaha and a spot on the MotoGP grid."

"What happened is that Sito Pons couldn't contract Max (Biaggi) and made an interesting offer to Stoner. So we lost our rider and couldn't move forward with the project. Almost two months later, Casey eventually told us he was available again. In the meantime he had tested the Honda and was willing to race on this machine, so we talked with HRC to make it possible."

Founded in 1996, the LCR team is now set to take a major step forward by joining the elite class. As team chairman and managing director, Cecchinello is obviously pleased with this achievement, almost a decade after he created his own outfit to race in the 125cc World Championship.

"It's something very important for us. We are very happy to move up to the MotoGP class with the number one factory; we are also pleased because it proves that our work is respected and valued," he added.

"To celebrate our tenth anniversary by entering the MotoGP class underlines our progress. We now feel ready to mount an effort in the MotoGP class, but we know it will require more work and dedication. We will do our best and bring some good results to Honda."

MotoGP, 2005, Casey Stoner

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