It has been officially announced that Marco Melandri will return to the Gresini Honda team for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.

The 27-year-old will thus rejoin the team with which he finished second in the 2005 MotoGP championship and took all five of his MotoGP race wins, plus twelve other podiums.

Melandri will ride alongside reigning 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli, who has already been announced at the team.

After finishing second, fourth and fifth in the world championship during his three seasons at Gresini Honda, Melandri made an ill-fated move to the factory Ducati Marlboro team for 2008.

Melandri has since rebuilt his reputation will impressive performances on the unofficial Hayate Kawasaki this season, including a second place at Le Mans and briefly leading his home grand prix at Mugello.

The Italian is currently seventh in the world championship standings after ten of 17 rounds and, with Kawasaki not continuing to support Hayate next season, his move back to Gresini had been highly rumoured.

Gresini Honda hasn't taken a podium finish since Melandri's second place at the 2007 Malaysian Grand Prix.

"It gives us great pride and satisfaction to have Marco Melandri back with us," said team manager Fausto Gresini. "I have always had great belief in his potential and to get our sporting and technical project with him back on track following his experiences with other teams creates fresh and important motivation.

"Melandri is a huge part of the Honda Gresini story - we have had great results together that over time consolidated a relationship founded on mutual respect and friendship. Now I am confident we can recreate the past successes that gave us so much joy and excitement.

"With Simoncelli and Melandri together in the premier class and San Carlo as main sponsor we have a true Italian flavour to the team. Circumstances have conspired to allow us to create an "Azzurro Dream Team", which provides us all with extra motivation."

The announcement means that both of Gresini's current riders, Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis, will leave the team at the end of the season. de Angelis is currently eleventh in the world championship with Elias, who has a factory-spec RCV, just 14th.

"The choice we have made means that we will not be extending our relationship with Elias or de Angelis, but after a start to the season that certainly wasn't easy, thanks to a lot effort from everybody involved we are starting to pick up some good results so I hope we can keep it up until the end of the season and help them find a good ride in MotoGP," said Gresini. "I want to thank both of them and wish them a successful future."

Gresini Honda has told Crash.net that it does not yet know what type of specification (factory or satellite) its 2010 machines will be.

Melandri's announcement means that six places on next year's grid now look to be decided: As well as the Gresini seats, Valentino Rossi will stay at Fiat Yamaha and Casey Stoner at Ducati Marlboro, while HRC has reached a 'basic agreement' to keep both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso at the factory Honda team.