Gresini Racing has announced that its 2011 Moto2 rider Michele Pirro will ride the Honda-powered FTR CRT bike in next year's MotoGP World Championship.
Moto2 rookie Pirro finished ninth in this year's championship and took his debut grand prix win in emotional circumstances at the Valencia season finale - the first event following the death of Gresini MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli.
“I am happy to have made this choice and proud to be competing with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini in this new adventure," said Pirro.
"It wasn't an easy decision to make because my initial priority was to build on my results from 2011 in Moto2 but the faith shown in me by Fausto Gresini at the end of the season left me in little doubt which route I should take.
"I am honoured to remain part of this fantastic group of people and to be joining them as part of an ambitious project that represents the future of MotoGP. Hopefully I can pay back the faith they have shown in me with some good results and technical development.”
Pirro won a race for Ten Kate in World Supersport during 2010, when he finished fifth in the championship. Pirro previously raced in Superstock 1000 and 125GP.
"We have decided that it feels right for a new project such as CRT to give Michele Pirro the opportunity to show his talent," said team principal Fausto Gresini.
"He demonstrated in the closing stages of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship that he has the technical ability to improve further as a rider and we believe that he can be one of the leading CRT riders.
"His fantastic and truly unforgettable win at Valencia was emotional for all of us and it convinced us that he is worthy of this chance. We are also obviously an Italian team so it is also important to us to carry this new project forward with an Italian rider in Michele.”
The 25-year-old Italian will ride alongside Alvaro Bautista next season. The Spaniard will race Gresini's lone Honda RC213V factory prototype.
Confirmed 2012 MotoGP riders:
1. Casey Stoner - Repsol Honda
2. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda
3. Jorge Lorenzo - Factory Yamaha
4. Ben Spies - Factory Yamaha
5. Valentino Rossi - Ducati Marlboro
6. Nicky Hayden - Ducati Marlboro
7. Cal Crutchlow - Tech 3 Yamaha
8. Andrea Dovizioso - Tech 3 Yamaha
9. Colin Edwards - Forward Racing (Suter-BMW CRT)
10. Hector Barbera - Pramac Ducati
11. Karel Abraham - Cardion AB Ducati
12. Alvaro Bautista - San Carlo Honda Gresini
13. Stefan Bradl - LCR Honda
14. Randy de Puniet - Aspar (?-Aprilia CRT)
15. Aleix Espargaro - Aspar (?-Aprilia CRT)
16. James Ellison - PBM (?-Aprilia CRT)
17. Anthony West - Speed Master (?-Aprilia CRT)
18. Michele Pirro - Gresini Racing (FTR-Honda CRT)