As predicted, HRC has used its home Japanese Grand Prix weekend to officially announce Andrea Dovizioso as a Repsol Honda rider for the 2009 MotoGP season.

The 22-year-old Italian - who has taken three fourth-place finishes to hold fifth position heading into round 15 of his rookie season with the satellite JiR Team Scot Honda outfit - will ride alongside Dani Pedrosa at HRC's factory team and in place of Nicky Hayden, who has already been confirmed at Ducati Marlboro.

"I am very pleased to announce that Andrea Dovizioso will join the Repsol Honda factory team for the 2009 MotoGP season, racing alongside Dani Pedrosa," said HRC president Masumi Hamane. "Andrea has raced Honda machines throughout his career and with great success in all categories of grand prix racing. He has a 125cc world title to his credit and several very successful seasons in the 250cc class. We believe Andrea is now ready to accept the challenge that awaits him in 2009. His talent is unquestioned and we admire his attitude towards racing. His dedication to the task at hand has impressed everyone at HRC.

"Andrea came into the MotoGP championship this year with an open mind and his debut season has shown all of us that he possesses the character and qualities so necessary to succeed. The MotoGP class is the most difficult of all classes for a rider but Andrea's skill and determination to learn has been rewarded. His current fifth place in the championship speaks for itself. HRC will provide Andrea with the best possible technical support to help him reach his full potential and we look forward to enjoying a happy and successful relationship," he added.

Dovizioso won the 125cc World Championship in 2004, took third in his debut season of 250cc competition in 2005, before finishing second to Aprilia's Jorge Lorenzo in both 2006 and 2007.

Dovi graduated to MotoGP with JiR Team Scot Honda and is currently one place and 29 points behind factory Yamaha rider Lorenzo in the 2008 MotoGP rookie of the year battle.

"I have raced Honda machines in grands prix for seven years because I have always wanted to be in the official HRC team," said Dovizioso. "Now I have the opportunity to join Repsol Honda, so this is a dream come true for me, I am very happy.

"This year I have ridden my rookie season for the JiR Scot satellite Honda team. So far it has been a good year, I am fifth in the championship, but most importantly I have already gained a lot of experience on a MotoGP bike. I think that riding one season with a satellite team before joining the HRC team is the best way forward. Of course, I am still learning about MotoGP and I believe that you must never stop learning.

"When I changed from 250, I quickly got a good feeling for MotoGP - riding the four-stroke and working with the electronics - but getting 100 per cent out of these machines is something very different. You must work very hard to take machine set-up and development in a direction which allows you to win races and championships. That is why you need to be on a factory team.

"In 125s and 250s, there isn't so much machine development, but in MotoGP there is always a lot of development. On a MotoGP bike you can change everything, so it's a really tough job because you are always thinking very hard about what you need to go faster. It isn't just your riding style and your racing lines, you have to think so much about all aspects of the machine, especially the electronics, which has been a new world for me this year.

"I am very much looking forward to starting work with HRC and the Repsol Honda Team. In the meantime, I will do my best to score some good results in the final races of 2008 to thank and reward my team who have helped me achieve so much over the years."

JiR and Team Scot will split next season. Scot will field its 250cc rider Yuki Takahashi in place of Dovizioso, while JiR - having announced the loss of Honda support - looks set to leave the paddock.

Repsol Honda's last world championship victory came with Hayden during 2006, the final season of 990cc racing. Since the start of the 800cc era, Honda has won just four MotoGP races, all with Pedrosa.

Pedrosa made the shock switch to Bridgestone tyres from round 14, at Indianapolis onwards, while Hayden's side of the garage has remained on Michelins, as are also currently used by Dovizioso. Dovizioso's 2009 tyres are still to be confirmed, and will naturally be dependent on the rumoured introduction of a one tyre rule.