Team Gresini has announced that its MotoGP race winner Toni Elias and Russian rookie Vladimir Ivanov will ride its Moriwaki machines during the inaugural 2010 Moto2 World Championship.
“The Moto2 project is very interesting for our team and we are looking forward to working closely with Moriwaki. I am really pleased to be going into such a new project with an experienced rider in Toni Elias and a rookie in Vladimir Ivanov,” said team principal Fausto Gresini.
Elias reluctantly steps down to the new 600cc four-stroke class after five seasons in MotoGP, including three for Honda Gresini, with whom he took his stunning 2006 race win - the last victory by a satellite rider.
Left without a premier-class ride for 2010, the Spaniard initially signed a Moto2 pre-contract with Gresini - which allowed him to test the Moriwaki chassis late last year - before committing to a full contract.
Elias, who finished seventh in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship for Gresini, will have his sights set on winning the first Moto2 title to bolster his hopes of a 2011 MotoGP return.
“I am very pleased to continue racing with Team Gresini because it is like a family to me,” said Elias, who won seven 250cc races before graduating to MotoGP. “Alongside Moriwaki we are beginning a new adventure in Moto2. We are extremely confident about the project and we will all work with great determination to get the maximum results possible.”
Gresini was naturally pleased to have hung on to Elias, presently the biggest name to sign-up for Moto2.
Alex de Angelis, Niccolo Canepa, Yuki Takahashi and Gabor Talmacsi will also move from MotoGP to Moto2 in 2010 - while Roberto Rolfo is another former MotoGP rider - but Elias looks like being the only person on the grid with a MotoGP win to his name.
“Having Toni as our lead rider is a source of great motivation for everybody,” he said. “Elias is a rider we know well and we have enjoyed great moments with him - he is determined, hard-working and professional and he is prepared to work on development with us. He has everything in place to be competitive at every race and there is no reason why the title should not be his target.”
Meanwhile Ivanov makes his debut on the world stage having won the Russian Supersport title in 2003 and 2004, followed by an entry in the German equivalent in 2006 (two podiums), 2007 (three wins) and 2008 (four wins and second place overall) and the Italian Supersport series in 2009.