Honda has confirmed that Marco Simoncelli will ride a factory-specification RC213V in 2012 after inking a new factory contract with its young protégé.
Simoncelli has been the subject of much discussion in recent months concerning whether he will receive the factory iteration of the forthcoming 1000cc Honda, with rumours suggesting the manufacturer's downsizing would limit the bike to its two official Repsol riders.
Nonetheless, Honda has not only confirmed it will supply Simoncelli with the RC213V, on which he will once again compete in San Carlo Gresini colours, but that it has also offered him a factory contract and full technical backing.
“To be wearing the colours of Team San Carlo Honda Gresini for another year and riding a Honda RC213V gives me a lot of satisfaction,” he said. “To be kept on as part of project that Honda HRC are so supportive of in collaboration with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini gives me a lot of confidence and all the motivation I need to show that I can be amongst the best in MotoGP again. 2012 will be an important season for me and I want to give all those people who have believed in this project plenty to get excited about.”
Simoncelli joined the premier motorcycling category in 2010 as a Gresini rider and has since established himself as a frequent front runner aboard the factory-specification RC212V, peaking with his podium at Brno and pole positions in Barcelona and at Assen.
Though high-profile crashes prompted him to receive a 'fast, but error-prone' reputation in the early stages of the season, a recent run of good results has moved him up to eighth overall.
“I am really happy to announce that Marco will be back with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini in 2012, added team manager Fausto Gresini. “Over the past two years together we have been able to appreciate Marco's qualities as a rider, as a man and as an extroverted communicator, which made us keen to continue our collaboration.
“Obviously in order to make this possible we needed a lot of effort from our sponsors, who have shown such belief in this project and I am grateful to them. HRC are going to offer a general level of support that will be very important as well as making a factory RC213V factory available to Marco.
“All this gives us great pride and is a testament to the close relationship we have built with the Japanese factory over fifteen fruitful years of partnership. Marco's huge determination will give us all a lot of motivation ahead of what promises to be an exciting new season.”
Simoncelli's appointment means Andrea Dovizioso is unlikely to receive a latest-specification Honda for 2012, despite being third in the current standings. The Italian has been heavily-linked to Tech 3 Yamaha and Rizla Suzuki, should the latter continue in MotoGP.