Gresini Racing has officially announced that it will field Toni Elias alongside Alex de Angelis in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship.

The team has also confirmed that Elias, who has taken two podiums this season for Alice Ducati, will ride a third 'factory spec' Honda RC212V - presumably a pneumatic-valve machine, as will be used by Repsol riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

Elias made his MotoGP debut with Tech 3 Yamaha in 2005, then claimed his one and only MotoGP victory to date as a Gresini Honda rider in 2006, before leaving the team at the end of 2007.

The Spaniard's grand prix future looked in doubt after a lacklustre first half of the 2008 season with Alice, but a sudden change in form from Laguna Seca saw Elias pursued by no less than three teams - Alice, Aspar and Gresini. Gresini came out on top, no doubt helped by the factory support on offer.

"I'm happy to announce the Team San Carlo Honda Gresini sports programme for the 2009 season, a new adventure that is going to be very challenging and with great premise," said team manager Fausto Gresini.

"The possibility to line up a Honda factory spec. machine represents for us a sign of esteem from HRC and it will offer to us all the potential to make a great season.

"Welcome back to Toni Elias who will be Alex De Angelis' new team-mate in 2009, recently confirmed after his debut season in MotoGP. I would like to thank San Carlo that will continue to collaborate with us as title sponsor of the team.

"We are proud of the relationship that has been created with the Italian company and also with the other partners of the squad: we expect to collect together great results and satisfaction."

"I am pleased to say that HRC and Team Gresini will continue their long and successful relationship into the 2009 MotoGP season," said HRC managing director Kosuke Yasutake.

"Team Gresini has been our strategic partner in grand prix racing for many years and we will once again supply the team with a RC212V factory spec machine for one of their riders.

"Fausto Gresini leads a very well managed team with excellent technical staff, they are all very dedicated and determined people with a passion for racing and the desire to succeed. The team receive precious support from their title sponsor San Carlo and we all look forward to another successful season together."

Gresini Honda has won 14 MotoGP races since its 2002 debut, courtesy of Sete Gibernau (8), Marco Melandri (5) and Elias (1).

The return of Elias leaves Shinya Nakano, currently riding a valve-spring factory RCV for Gresini, facing an uncertain future. The Japanese has been linked with a HRC testing role, but Gresini indicated that the former 250cc title contender aims to continue racing.

"At last an acknowledgment to Shinya Nakano who contributed to another chapter of Gresini Racing. I wish him good luck in continuing his career," said Gresini.

The only remaining 2009 MotoGP seat on a Japanese motorcycle is the still-to-be-confirmed third Kawasaki.

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