The LCR Honda team has already started to turn attentions to 2009 after the impressive winter testing performances of new rider Randy de Puniet.
The Frenchman’s fast form continued this week when he posted the fastest time on race tyres at a weather-hit three-day IRTA test in Jerez.
The former factory Kawasaki rider was delighted with a new 16.5-inch rear tyre from Michelin, while the LCR Honda team also got to assess the new spec engine that engine that Randy de Puniet will campaign in 2008.
Team boss Lucio Cecchinello, who was influential in the development of Casey Stoner’s early career, believes the Italian team will be even more competitive in 2009.
Former 125GP winner Cecchinello’s team had a torrid 2007 with Spanish veteran Carlos Checa struggling badly on the RC212V.
But Cecchinello told MCN: “In 2009 the gap between the factory and independent bikes will be reduced even more.
“Always at the start of a new regulation the gap is wider and then it becomes closer over time. The capacity of the technical improvement becomes limited after a couple of years.
“We suffered a lot in 2007 and we will suffer less in ’08. And then in 2009 we will be able to have a similar situation to the past when a good rider from an independent team can beat the factory machine because everything will be almost identical.”