Randy de Puniet will step up to the MotoGP World Championship in 2006 with the Kawasaki Racing Team, after agreeing terms with the Japanese factory squad at Phillip Island this weekend.
De Puniet will race an all-new model of the 990cc Ninja ZX-RR, which is currently under development by Kawasaki engineers in Japan.
24-year-old de Puniet is one of the emerging young stars of the 250cc category, and his elevation to the MotoGP ranks strengthens the Kawasaki Racing Team as they enter their fourth full season of MotoGP competition.
De Puniet will make his debut on the Ninja ZX-RR at the official test session following the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix in November.
De Puniet, from Andresy in France, is a five-time 250cc GP winner with his most recent success coming with a superb victory in the rain-soaked British Grand Prix at Donington in July.
Since joining the 250cc championship at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2001, de Puniet has scored nine pole positions and 22 podiums to back-up his five race wins.
As a 17-year-old, de Puniet made his 125cc debut in 1998 as a wild card at his home race, the French Grand Prix.
Randy de Puniet;
"Moving up to MotoGP with Kawasaki is a fantastic opportunity for me; it's like a dream come true. I know it's not going to be easy next year, a MotoGP machine is very different to the 250cc two-stroke bikes that I'm used to, but I'm very much looking forward to the challenge ahead. I know I'm facing a steep learning curve next year, but I think that working with such an experienced team will help a lot during my debut MotoGP season. It's difficult to say what I can expect in terms of results, as I have not ridden the bike yet, I will have a better understanding of my potential after the Valencia test. I hope that during my debut year I will be able to get closer and closer to the front runners as the year progresses."
Harald Eckl: Team Manager;
"With Randy we have a young, up and coming rider who has already proved his potential with race wins and podiums in the 250cc World Championship, which is always ultra-competitive. He faces a steep learning curve next season, but I know that he will work hard to make the most of this opportunity with Kawasaki. It will be a challenge for the team to get Randy up to speed quickly on the Ninja ZX-RR, but I have every confidence, both in him as a rider, and also in the team he will be working with."