West Honda Pons has just confirmed that Tohru Ukawa will partner Max Biaggi on its V5 RCV in 2003.
Ukawa, who rode for the factory Repsol Honda effort alongside Valentino Rossi, finished thrid overall in the championship, and became one of a small group to take a win during the year. He also had one of the most expensive crashes of the year when he totally destroyed an RC211V in qualifying for the British GP.
Ukawa said: " I am now looking to challenge my new environment to refresh my mind and become the first Japanese MotoGP World Champion.
" In this sense, joining Sito and his team for the 2003 season is definitely a step in the right direction as it is and a hugely competitive and vastly experienced team.
" They proved exactly what they can do with the RC211V in 2002 and I am convinced they will continue to get the best out of the Honda V5 in 2003.
" It is a great honour for me to continue my close relationship with HRC as their official rider and I am grateful for them for giving me the opportunity to ride in this team.
" I am looking forward to partnering Max Biaggi and I am sure that the competition between us will be positive for the team " .