LCR Honda to turn to John Hopkins?

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Lucio Cecchinello will turn his attention to John Hopkins, Randy de Puniet or Alvaro Bautista for a 2012 MotoGP ride now that Andrea Dovizioso has opted to sign for Tech 3 Yamaha.

Cecchinello had made signing Dovizioso his number one target for 2012 after a disastrous campaign with Spain’s reigning Moto2 world champion Toni Elias.

Cecchinello made Dovizioso an offer during the recent Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi and was hoping it would have been enough to tempt the current Repsol Honda rider.

The LCR offer included factory support from HRC for Dovizioso but he has accepted a proposal from Herve Poncharal to partner Cal Crutchlow at Tech 3 next season.

Dovizioso’s decision leaves Cecchinello pondering his next move, with BSB title contender John Hopkins a leading candidate, despite his preference to return to MotoGP with Suzuki.

Cecchinello spoke to Hopkins earlier in the season about selected rides with his squad because of the struggles experienced by Elias.

Former LCR rider de Puniet is also a candidate after he endured a torrid 2011 with the Pramac squad, while Bautista is in the frame too.

Bautista’s future with Suzuki is still uncertain with no decision as yet from the Japanese factory that it will continue racing next year.

Asked by MCN in Japan what his strategy would be if Dovizioso rejected his offer, Cecchinello said: “We are in contact with Bob Moore who is the manager of John Hopkins and I am always open to consider Randy de Puniet.

“And depending on what Suzuki will do, the door is also open for Bautista.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt