Motegi MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso joins Repsol Honda
The long-awaited announcement was made on the opening day of the Japanese GP at the Twin Ring Motegi today, with the Italian signing to replace American Nicky Hayden.
The former world 125 champion has long been rumoured to be joining the Repsol-backed squad alongside Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, despite lengthy talks with Kawasaki and Suzuki earlier in the season.
Confirmation came in a press conference at the Twin Ring Motegi this afternoon, where Dovizioso has been impressive in his rookie MotoGP campaign riding for the JIR Scot Honda squad. He is currently fifth in the points standings with a best result of fourth place in Qatar, Catalunya and Laguna Seca.
Dovizioso was delighted to have clinched his deal, saying it fulfilled a lifelong ambition.
“I have raced Honda machines in grands prix for seven years because I have always wanted to be in the official HRC team,” he says. “Now I have the opportunity to join Repsol Honda, so this is a dream come true for me, I am very happy. This year I have ridden my rookie season for the JiR Scot satellite Honda team. So far it has been a good year, I am fifth in the championship, but most importantly I have already gained a lot of experience on a MotoGP bike. I think that riding one season with a satellite team before joining the HRC team is the best way forward. Of course, I am still learning about MotoGP and I believe that you must never stop learning.
"When I changed from 250, I quickly got a good feeling for MotoGP – riding the four-stroke and working with the electronics – but getting 100 per cent out of these machines is something very different. You must work very hard to take machine set-up and development in a direction, which allows you to win races and championships.
"That is why you need to be on a factory team. In 125s and 250s, there isn’t so much machine development, but in MotoGP there is always a lot of development. On a MotoGP bike you can change everything, so it’s a really tough job because you are always thinking very hard about what you need to go faster.
"It isn’t just your riding style and your racing lines, you have to think so much about all aspects of the machine, especially the electronics, which has been a new world for me this year. I am very much looking forward to starting work with HRC and the Repsol Honda Team. In the meantime, I will do my best to score some good results in the final races of 2008 to thank and reward my team who have helped me achieve so much over the years.”
HRC president Masumi Hamane said: “I am very pleased to announce that Andrea Dovizioso will join the Repsol Honda factory team for the 2009 MotoGP season, racing alongside Dani Pedrosa,” said HRC president Masumi Hamane. “Andrea has raced Honda machines throughout his career and with great success in all categories of grand prix racing. He has a 125cc world title to his credit and several very successful seasons in the 250cc class. We believe Andrea is now ready to accept the challenge that awaits him in 2009.
"His talent is unquestioned and we admire his attitude towards racing. His dedication to the task at hand has impressed everyone at HRC. Andrea came into the MotoGP championship this year with an open mind and his debut season has shown all of us that he possesses the character and qualities so necessary to succeed. The MotoGP class is the most difficult of all classes for a rider but Andrea’s skill and determination to learn has been rewarded.
"His current fifth place in the championship speaks for itself. HRC will provide Andrea with the best possible technical support to help him reach his full potential and we look forward to enjoying a happy and successful relationship.”