Toni El?as has ditched Aprilia to link up with an official RSW 250 run by the Fortuna Honda team in next year's 250cc World Championship.

The 20-year old Spaniard will team up with Italian Roby Rolfo, who finished as runner-up to Manuel Poggiali in this year's championship while Elias dropped out of title contention after the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Elias' switch to Honda comes after two years of riding for the Aspar Aprilia team and the Spaniard admitted that the decision to change camps was a tough one to make.

"Taking this decision has been hard, but circumstances dictate that we go our separate ways," he said, "I only have words of gratitude for Aspar and, above all, for Telephone Movistar. I will not rule out working together again in the future."

Among the expected reasons for the move, Spanish internet site refers to the dominance of Honda in the senior MotoGP category and the fact that Fortuna's parent company, Altidis, ploughs more money into its motorcycle racing activities than even Movistar and Telefonica manage. It also alludes to Elias' belief that it would be hard to win the 250 title on an Aprilia while a near Italian - the San Marino born Poggiali - remains at the works team.

Nevertheless, switching to Honda poses its own problems, something that Elias is quick to point out.

"Starting a new season with a motorcycle that I do not know will be difficult," he admitted, "but we are going to have the backing of Honda and have seen that, this year, the bike has been competitive. We are going to work hard in the pre-season so that we begin the championship well-prepared. I know it is important for me to win the title next season and we have to be ready to go from the first race."

Elias will link up with chief mechanic Massimo Capana at Daniel Amatriain's team, completing a round trip that re-unites him with some of the personnel who oversaw his grand prix debut four seasons ago.

"We have gone full circle with this signing because Toni made his grand prix debut with us in the Monlau Competition team on a Honda," Amatria?n confirmed, "I think the combination of Roby and Toni is the best partnership in the whole championship."



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