Following the tragic loss of lead rider Daijiro Kato, Fausto Gresini has announced that the Telefonica MoviStar Honda team will contiunue as a two rider operation - with Sete Gibernau being given Kato's full works spec RCV, and a new Japanese rookie joining the team.

The decision was taken in agreement with HRC and will enable Gresini Racing to continue its two initial projects, the so-called "Factory Bike Project" for Kato's 2003 spec RC211V and the "Satellite Project" for the 2002 machine, which Sete had been riding.

Rightfully in many peoples eyes, Gibernau has now been entrusted with the "Factory RCV" after proving his merit by winning from pole under the most difficult circumstances in South Africa. He is now second in the points standings heading into round three, at Jerez, this weekend.

Although Gibernau had initially stated that he didn't want Kato's superior machine - and certainly wouldn't be asking for it - the Spaniard has accepted the team's decision and will campaign the bike for the first time in front of his home crowd at this Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

"I don't expect a big difference between the factory bike and the bike I have been riding up to now - they are very close," said Gibernau of the 2003 spec machine. "I expect the factory bike can help in some small areas - like the clutch, which they say is better, and maybe a little bit of traction. I will have to try it first. But in any case, the standard bike from Honda is a bike that can win races."

Although Sete will be the only rider racing for the team in Jerez, the whole Telefonica MoviStar Honda staff will be present in order to fully support Gibernau on his debut with the new bike.

With Gibernau moving to the full HRC works machine - identical to that ridden by Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Tohru Ukawa - it has been announced that his own 2002 spec racer, the "Satellite Project", has been given to 20-year-old Ryuichi Kiyonari.

The Gresini team intend to build a strong long-term relation with the Japanese and have signed a direct contract for the rest of the 2003 season, plus an option for 2004.

The team stressed that the choice of Kiyonari was not influenced by his nationality, but rather by his professional background, being the reigning Japanese Supersport champion and having finishing second in the recent World Supersport race at Sugo, as a wild-card.

Kiyonari will be at Jerez to meet the MotoGP community, but will officially ride the RC211V for the first time during a test next Monday, May 12, at the circuit.

His race debut will be made at the following Grand Prix of France on May 25.


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