Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced that the name of the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) factory team, that will participate in MotoGP class of FIM 2002 Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix, will be "REPSOL Honda."

HRC will be responsible for all aspects of the team's racing programme from development to overall management. The riders will be Valentino Rossi (#46, Italy), who won the championship last year, and Tohru Ukawa (#11, Japan).

They will both be aiming to win the first championship to be governed by the new technical regulations which come into effect this year, aboard the four-stroke "RC211V" equipped with a V5 990cc engine.

In addition, Shinichi Ito (Japan), who competed in the 500cc grand prix class from 1993 to 1996, has been confirmed as a wild-card rider for the opening round of the World Championship; "The Moto Grand Prix of Japan," to be held at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture from April 5th, (Fri.) to 7th, (Sun.). Ito has been responsible for the development of RC211V from its inception and will be racing for "TEAM HRC", overseen by Tadayuki Okada, himself a successful former grand prix rider.

The team made the announcement on the weekend of March 9-10 at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, during the official IRTA test session. Mr Koji Nakajima, Director of Honda Racing Corporation made the following address:

"First of all, on behalf of Honda and Honda Racing Corporation, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for your unchanging support to our Grand Prix racing activities. We would like to thank the people of the media, our fans, sponsors, the FIM, Dorna, and everyone in the motorcycle community.

The road racing Grand Prix World Championships, the world's top class motorcycle racing series, is now facing a historical change this year.

We at Honda have developed the RC211V for this championship, a completely new four-stroke GP race machine, investing almost all of our newest technology in the project.

When we embarked upon the challenge of developing a four-stroke GP machine, the first and foremost thing in our mind was to build an uncompromising racing machine by a never-challenged approach.

We finally chose the V5 engine configuration for the reason that it is something that no one has ever done before. And in order to maximise the mass-centralisation advantage, and the compact packaging, derived from the V5 engine, we also invested a lot of new technology on the chassis, such as the Unit Pro-link suspension and the under the seat fuel tank.

Needless to say, it must have been much easier for us to develop the machine by using the existing, race proven technology. And also, it is true in one aspect that the process to victory does not matter but the result does. But for us, that is not the be-all and the end-all of racing.

We deliberately take the round about route to victory, through which we develop new technology, train our people, and learn all sorts of valuable lessons.

That is always how we do things at Honda.

We developed the RC211V with 'a motorcyclists' passion, enthusiasm and the strongest possible message. It is our latest symbol, 'The Power of Dreams'.

In such a special year, it is our great pleasure to announce the continuation of our partnership with REPSOL, who have supported our Grand Prix activities more than anyone for many years. I am confident that the great partnership between REPSOL and Honda will find its place in the first page of this new page in the history of MotoGP.

We finished last season with 525 GP victories to our credit. We now look forward to add more pages to the record book with this new machine.

Thank you very much."

The Repsol Honda race team management and team riders also gave their comment on the RC211V and the forthcoming season.

Mr Nakata, HRC Team Manager:

"As Mr Nakajima has commented, everything about the project is totally new," said Nakata. "We have had a very fast but thorough development process and the whole project team has worked extremely hard. The winter testing has taught us a lot about the bike and we are pleased to make steady improvement."

"The new MotoGP season is very nearly upon us and we are all looking forward to the challenges that this new era in motorcycle racing will bring with it. We know there is more potential in the new RC211V and in the coming season we look forward to developing the machine still further."

Mr Carlo Fiorani, HRC Sporting Manager:

"We have worked with Valentino in 500 GP racing for the last two years and together we won the 2001 World Championship. For this season Valentino will have exactly the same team around him as he did last year. The only thing that has changed is, obviously, the bike we will race with but as you have already heard; the bike and rider are getting along fine!"

"This year we welcome Torhu Ukawa into the new REPSOL Honda Team. Tohru will again be working with his team of engineers and technicians from 2001."

"There is a great spirit in the team that we have developed over the past months during testing and speaking on behalf of the riders, they can't wait to get out and race the new RC211V."

Valentino Rossi, REPSOL Honda Team:

"For sure, I will try to win all the time. The new 4-stroke is a new bike to me but I like the machine very much. The testing has gone well and I look forward very much to the first race in Suzuka."

Tohru Ukawa, REPSOL Honda Team:

"I'm looking forward to the season, very much. I like the Suzuka circuit and I like 4-strokes. I especially like the RC211V, which is getting better to ride after each test session. We are now reconfirming a lot of what we have learnt during the tests and now we are really looking forward to the first race!"



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