Honda has confirmed that its former 125cc world champion Andrea Dovizioso will replace Nicky Hayden in the Repsol Honda team for 2009.
And the Japanese manufacturer has promised the Italian, who has finished in the top four three times this season for the privateer JiR Scot Honda squad, that he will get an equal chance to fight for the world title alongside its star rider Dani Pedrosa, if he performs well enough.
Asked whether the two riders would receive equal treatment, HRC president Masumi Hamane replied: "We will give the new parts to the rider who is in the better standing... we won't have a wall down between the two garages."
Hamane also confirmed that both riders would use the same tyre manufacturer, thought likely to be Bridgestone, after Pedrosa switched to the Japanese rubber two races ago.
"We believe Andrea is now ready to accept the challenge that awaits him in 2009," said Hamane of HRC's decision to promote Dovizioso to the factory team. "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.
"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."
Dovizioso, who has steadfastly remained a Honda man throughout his rise to MotoGP, revealed that signing for the HRC squad was a dream come true.
"I have raced Honda machines in grands prix for seven years because I have always wanted to be in the official HRC team," he said. "Now I have the opportunity to join Repsol Honda, so this is a dream come true for me, I am very happy.
"I think that riding one season with a satellite team before joining the HRC team has been 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 setup and development in a direction which allows you to win races and championships.
"That is why you need to be on a factory team."
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