Honda thrilled to land Enea Bastianini for Moto3 challenge

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Honda management say it was vital to secure the services of teenage Italian sensation Enea Bastiainini for its 2015 Moto3 world championship assault.

With leading Honda Moto3 duo Alex Marquez and Alex Rins moving up to Moto2 in 2015, HRC was desperate to secure a deal with highly rated Bastianini, who has been the big surprise performer in the 250cc single-cylinder four-stroke class.

He has claimed three podium finishes and four other top 10 finishes and HRC have got hold of Bastianini by tempting his team boss Fausto Gresini to quit KTM to run Honda machinery.

Honda is promoting highly regarded French teenager Fabio Quartararo into the Estrella Galicia-backed team that has lost Marquez and Rins.

Quartararo is dominating the feeder CEV Repsol series in Spain and many insiders firmly believe he could be the new Marc Marquez.

Honda doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Quartararo and the signing of Bastiaini will see the Italian installed as its number one contender next season.

The Gresini dealed sealed a rapid reconciliation between the Italian squad and HRC after Fausto Gresini’s sponsorship crisis meant he couldn’t afford to lease a factory Honda RC213V earmarked for Scott Redding in 2015.

But a Moto3 contract extends the Gresini/Honda partnership into a 19th season and HRC boss Livio Suppo told MCN: “The team has long experience with us and it would be a pity to lose it. And Bastianini is a very strong rider and we are happy to have him for next year.

"With Jack Miller, Rins and Marquez leaving it left Romano Fenati at KTM and he is very dangerous and we needed somebody strong there. And we can’t put too much pressure on Quartararo. He is a very strong rider but he will be a rookie, so it is good to have Enea in the line-up.

"He has been very impressive and it reminds me a lot of (Marco) Melandri when I brought him to 125s. Marco was only 15 and nobody expected him to do anything and he won his first race in Assen and he did a very good season.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt