All 25 places on the 2015 MotoGP grid have been officially filled with confirmation that Marco Melandri will ride for the new Factory Aprilia team.

The Italian will ride alongside Alvaro Bautista, who is continuing at the Gresini team during its transition from a satellite Honda to official Aprilia entry. Both Melandri (pictured) and Bautista briefly rode the upgraded version of the ART during the start of 2015 testing at Valencia on Monday.

"I was offered the chance to develop a completely new project and it is something that I have not yet done in my career since I have always had 'inherited' bikes," stated Melandri. "Precisely for this reason I am very intrigued by this challenge.

"I am working with a company and a racing department which sought me out and with which I want to continue to work in order to develop and grow a great project. Aprilia Racing has always demonstrated their ability to make great bikes and make them fast. I'll put in my efforts.

"Our goal is quite ambitious: to grow a bike and at the same time to develop a new prototype that will race in 2016. It will be a demanding season and a lot of work but we are ready to take on these challenges."

Melandri first rode for Gresini from 2005 to 2007, claiming all five of his MotoGP wins and finishing second in the 2005 world championship, before an ill-fated move to the Factory Ducati team.

A rebuilding season on the unofficial Kawasaki (Hayate) project was followed by a further year at Gresini, but Melandri could only finish tenth overall and began a new career in WSBK in 2011.

The former 250cc world champion has won races in all four of his WSBK seasons - at Yamaha, BMW and Aprilia - finishing title runner-up in 2011, then seeing the 2012 crown slip away in the closing rounds.

The 32-year-old Italian finished fourth in both the 2013 and 2014 championships at the official Aprilia WSBK team. With the factory cutting back its Superbike presence to focus on MotoGP, Melandri was soon linked to the grand prix project - despite initially expressing concerns about the competitiveness of the ART.

Aprilia is due to heavy revise its outdated ART machine for next season, with pneumatic valves and a seamless gearbox high on the priority list, before the new machine debuts in 2016.

"With Marco Melandri the last piece of the puzzle has been put into place for Aprilia's participation in next year's MotoGP season," declared Aprilia Racing Director Romano Albesiano. "These have been very intense and exciting days where in just a few hours we went from the last round of Superbike at Losail to this new adventure in MotoGP.

"We are very pleased to announce Marco's signing because this completes our team in the best way possible on the eve of a great challenge: with Melandri we now have an all-Italian bike-rider duo. We are moving into MotoGP a year ahead of schedule on wings of enthusiasm because of the double world Superbike championships we have just won.

"We moved our schedule up because we want the most demanding tracks and the most competitive championship in the world to gauge the quality of our work. Aprilia's 54 world titles, the hundreds of wins on tracks all over the world give proof of technical skills and a winning attitude that deserve the limelight of the most prestigious stage."



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