The Gresini team may have abandoned Honda in the MotoGP class, but they have not left the Japanese manufacturer altogether. Today, the Italian team announced that they will be switching from KTM to Honda in the Moto3 championship. They will be keeping Enea Bastianini as their main rider, while Andrea Locatelli replaces Niccolo Antonelli on the second bike.
The switch to Honda comes with the encouragement from HRC. Honda is keen to bring Bastianini under their wing, the 16-year-old Italian having had a fantastic debut season in Moto3, scoring three podiums so far this year, living up to his nickname of 'Bestia', or The Beast. Gresini has signed a two-year deal with Bastianini, with an option to move him up to Moto2 for 2016.
The press release announcing the deal makes no further mention of Go&Fun, suggesting that the sponsorship deal with the Italian manufacturer of energy drinks will end not just in MotoGP, but in all three classes.
The announcement by Gresini is likely to be just the first of many this weekend, with the Moto2 and Moto3 entry lists due out this weekend. Below is the text of the press release from Gresini:
GRESINI RACING TO RACE IN THE 2015 MOTO3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH HONDA AND AN ALL ITALIAN LINE-UP
Gresini Racing's commitment to support young Italian talents in the Moto3 World Championship will continue in the 2015 season with Honda machinery and an all Italian line-up, composed by Enea Bastianini and Andrea Locatelli.
Brought to debut this year by Gresini Racing, 16-year-old Bastianini turned out to be the great surprise of the season thanks to the three podium finishes claimed at Barcelona, Brno and Silverstone. Results which has attracted the interest of Honda, which will be Gresini Racing’s technical partner for the 2015 Moto3 campaign. The two-year contract with Enea Bastianini represents a long-term strategy, with a possible transition to a higher category in 2016.
Alongside Bastianini there will be 17-year-old Andrea Locatelli: the rider from Bergamo, grew up as part of the Honda Italia Racing Project and 2013 Moto3 Italian Champion, is currently racing his first season in the Moto3 World Championship aboard a Mahindra managed by Team Italia FMI.
“I am delighted to continue to race for Gresini Racing: already at the beginning of the year I became convinced to stay here for the future, because I found myself immediately at ease. I’m having fun and I can work well together my technicians and my mechanics: this is also a factor that makes the difference. In 2015 I will be aboard a Honda and to race for such an important manufacturer is undoubtedly exciting; moreover, the bike is already proving to be very competitive and there is every reason to think that it will be even faster next season. My debut season in the World Championship is going particularly well, more than I expected: I can say that I’m getting used to fight at the top, however we keep our feet on the ground. The goal for 2015 is obviously to continue to improve, although in some ways we will start again from scratch”.
“I’m very happy to continue my experience in the Moto3 World Championship with Gresini Racing: 2014 is representing for me an important year of apprenticeship and to be able to continue my path in one of the best teams in the class will surely help me to take a step forward. I will race with a Honda, a very competitive bike, so there is every requirement to do well and of course I will give my best in order to succeed. This year I did’nt know most of the tracks and I have collected a lot of experience that will be valuable ahead of the 2015 campaign. However, I don’t want to say too much before the first test, but it would be nice to start the next season with the right foot”.
“I’m pleased to have defined our young riders development project for next year and to continue in the Moto3 class, which we consider essential to breed future champions. Bastianini, great revelation of this year and our great discovery, will be again with us: with Enea we decided to plan a long-term commitment, over two seasons. Depending on the results, we will choose in which category to participate in the 2016 season. Andrea Locatelli is a rider we already know from the Italia Honda Racing Project trophy and whom I respect very much: we see in him a good potential to work on, so we decided to give him this important opportunity. Finally, we decided together with the riders to choose Honda as a technical partner for 2015: we are obviously confident and happy to be able to count on this great manufacturer for our young riders development project”.