Honda Team Asia has confirmed its new all-rookie Moto3 line-up for 2017.
As was listed on the provisional entry list, Taddy Okada's squad has signed Kaito Toba and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat to take over from Khairul Idham Pawi and Hiroki Ono.
This year's star rookie Pawi, who made history as the first Malaysian to win a grand prix, is stepping up to the Moto2 project alongside Takaaki Nakagami. Ono, demoted from pole and then a podium in his home Motegi round, is so far absent from the 2017 entry lists.
“For the 2017 season, our team will line up Japanese youngster Kaito Toba and Thai hopeful Nakarin Atiratphuvapat," Okada stated. "Having finished Valencia test in mid-November, we have already confirmed their high potential.
"In order to make a good fight in the Moto3 World Championship, they will build up their riding skills, sheer determination and physical strength. With these young riders, we Honda Team Asia will put together our everything to demonstrate good performance as soon as the 2017 season starts.”
16-year-old Toba was the inaugural Asia Talent Cup champion in 2014. He then finished 20th in the 2015 FIM CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship, improving significantly to fourth overall - with one win and three podiums - in this year's standings.
Toba also finished fifth in this year's Red Bull Rookies Cup, with two race wins.
“I feel very excited to take part in the Moto3 World Championship. But I understand this is just a starting-line," Toba said. "The real competition in my racing career will start from right here. For sure, it will not be easy and I am ready to face with this new challenge. Always never forget gratitude to everyone and not to spoil myself, I will give my everything to show my full potential!”
20-year-old Atiratphuvapat finished fourth in the 2015 Asia Talent Cup with two race wins, then 17th in this year's FIM CEV Moto3 series, with a best race result of eighth.
“I am so happy and excited to join the Moto3 World Championship and to compete with the best riders around the world," he said. "I will use this opportunity to improve my riding skills and I have set my target as win Rookie of the Year. I believe this is a great team with high experience in the World Championship and it makes me very confident!”