The Go&Fun Honda Gresini team launch was held in San Marino on Thursday, providing the first look at this year's MotoGP colours (more pictures added below).

With energy drink Go&Fun continuing as title sponsor for a second season, the green and white livery is unchanged for 2014.

But there will be a new bike and new rider with Moto2 star Scott Redding signed up for Gresini's new Open class Honda. Redding joins Alvaro Bautista, starting his third season on the team's Factory class RC213V.

"2014 is a really important year for Gresini Racing: first, it will be our 18th year in the World Championship. An important goal, thanks to which we can say with pride that our organisation has... become of age!" said team principal Fausto Gresini.

"Go&Fun will continue to instill in the Team the incredible energy and dynamism that we've enjoyed throghout 2013, and in this season we want to be on top with both riders. Alvaro deserves to be put amongst the 'top riders', having already proved to be able to get a top five finish at every race. This year we expect a further improvement from him, hoping to attend the podium frequently.

"On the other hand, we have high expectations on Redding's debut. Scott is young, but already very experienced: I like especially his attitude, because he never gives up. Our goal with him is to come out on top in the newly formed Open class."

Redding arrives in MotoGP off the back of a breakthrough fourth season in Moto2, in which he claimed his first three wins and led the championship for much of the season.

The 21-year-old Englishman only lost the advantage to pre-season favourite - and fellow 2014 MotoGP rookie - Pol Espargaro when he fractured his arm at Phillip Island. Redding's hopes of forcing a final round showdown ended when he was brought down in a first lap accident during his early Motegi comeback.

The Open class replaces the privateer 'CRT' category. Machinery is no longer subject to a claiming rule - but the technical advantages are even greater than before. Although the Open bikes will have to run the full control ECU system - Factory class entries can keep their own software - they will benefit from four litres of extra race fuel, more engine changes and potentially a softer rear tyre.

The Honda RCV1000R is a customer version of the title-winning RC213V machine, featuring steel rather than pneumatic valve actuation and a standard rather than seamless shift gearbox, to limit costs. The bike, sold rather than leased, produces 'over 175KW' (235hp) at 16,000rpm. Honda has claimed that the difference in lap time between the Factory and Open bike at its test track was only 0.3s - and dropped to 0.17s with the softer rear tyre.

During the debut of the Open machines at last November's Valencia test - when Redding was still nursing his arm injury - the best of the Open bikes (Aleix Espargaro, FTR-Yamaha) was 1.3s from the top, with the top Honda of Aspar's Nicky Hayden a further half a second back.

"Everything for me is completely different here: it's a new challenge, which is what I like!" said Redding. "All the guys at Team Go&Fun Honda Gresini were really nice, very welcoming; so I felt pretty comfortable right from the first day of testing in Valencia last November.

"Now I'm hungry to go to Sepang to start the season; I've been training hard because I want to come to these three days of testing really strong and fit. Now my wrist is pretty okay to ride properly.

"I will go in Malaysia just to see how it goes, but also to try to close the gap on the front guys and also on the other Production Racers. Anyway, my goal for this season is to be the first Open class rider."

As well as Redding and Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama (Aspar) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) will also be riding the Open Honda. Like his team-mate Bautista in the Factory class, Redding will be the only RCV1000R competitor running Showa rather than Ohlins suspension.

Former Suzuki rider Bautista took his first MotoGP pole and podiums with Gresini in 2012, but was unable to repeat those feats last season, when the 29-year-old Spaniard dropped one position to sixth in the standings. That was despite finishing in the top six at ten of the final eleven races.

"I'm really happy to be here again for the third year running! The Team Go&Fun Honda Gresini is like a family for me, and I always enjoy a great atmosphere inside the garage," said Bautista.

"Unfortunately, last year we missed to step on the podium, but starting from mid season, we were able to be more competitive and to show a really good consistency. We achieved good results thanks also to the good work made by Showa on the suspensions.

"I battled in many races with Valentino Rossi, who was riding a full factory bike, so we are really optimistic ahead of the forthcoming season. We know that we have a good base, so my goal is to be competitive right from the start, at the first race in Qatar."

Bautista and Redding will be on track during the opening 2014 pre-season test at Sepang next week.

Gresini finished runner-up in the MotoGP title chase from 2003-2005, with Sete Gibernau (twice) and then Marco Melandri. The team's triumph with Toni Elias at Estoril in 2006 remains the most recent victory for a non-factory MotoGP rider.

As well as its MotoGP project, Gresini will continue to run teams in Moto2 and Moto3. The Moto3 project, running Niccol? Antonelli and rookie Enea Bastianini, is also backed by Go&Fun.

2014 Gresini Honda MotoGP and Moto3 team launch
Scott Redding with his 2014 Gresini Honda (pic: Gresini).
Alvaro Bautista with his 2014 Gresini Honda (pic: Gresini).
Scott Redding and Alvaro Bautista with 2014 Gresini Honda (pic: Gresini).


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