Alex Barros has finally confirmed that he has a contract with Honda for 2004, replacing Valentino Rossi at the factory Repsol team.

The Brazilian, who rode for the Gauloises Tech 3 Yamaha outfit in 2003, will get his first taste of his new race machine next month, following the launch of the 2004 spec RC211V on January 28.
Speaking to Agencia Brazil Barros, who is still recovering from surgery on his shoulder, said: "It is a great chance for me. I'm taking the place of the champion, Rossi, and have been hired by the factory Honda team to defend their world titles."

Further confirmation of the move has also been provided by his official spokesperson, after being contacted by Brazil.

Barros raced for Yamaha last year, and although the team's main sponsor, Altadis, was reluctant to let him go, Alex apparently signed for Honda anyway - the #4 is even rumoured to have avoided paying an expensive early release fee to Altadis due to small print in his contract...

Having won two GPs with Honda Pons in 2002, last season saw Barros finish just joint ninth in championship standings, after riding injured for the whole year. His - and Yamaha's - best result was a lone third at Le Mans.

2004 will thus surely be make or break time for the 33-year-old GP veteran, who must now quickly convince the likes of Mick Doohan that he can still win a world title.

Meanwhile, Yamaha development rider Norick Abe is expected to replace Barros at the Fortuna backed Tech 3 team.



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