After spending the 2008 season on an Alice Ducati, Toni Elias returned 'home' to the Honda Gresini team during the start of testing at Valencia on Monday.

Elias, whose only MotoGP victory to date came with Gresini during a stunning climax to the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix, claimed two podiums during the 2008 season - making him the only Desmosedici rider other than Casey Stoner to stand on the rostrum - but was tempted back to Gresini by the offer of factory Honda machinery.

The Spaniard will work with a crew led by Fabrizio Cecchini, with whom Elias worked during 2007, and spent his first day gaining confidence with the RC212V.

"I am very happy to have returned to Honda and to Fausto Gresini's team," said Toni. "For me, it is like coming home because in the two years we worked together before we developed a mutually trusting relationship and we understand very well the feeling and method of working together that was always very successful.

"Coming back to ride aboard a Honda was not easy because it is a completely different machine to what I was riding throughout the 2008 season, however after just one hour of testing today the feeling improved a lot.

"We approached our work today with calmness because we know that I will have to gradually adapt myself to the new bike that will be equipped with tyres in accordance with the new [single tyre] regulations."

Elias set the 13th fastest lap time out of 18 riders on the first day of testing, his best lap 0.5sec under his fastest circulation on a Desmosedici during Sunday's season ending grand prix.

Meanwhile, Gresini's 2008 MotoGP rookie Alex de Angelis - retained for next season - got his first taste of the new specification satellite Honda on Monday, setting the sixth fastest lap time, 0.464sec under his best race lap. The San Marinese also began work with his new technical staff, headed by Antonio Jimenez.

"Today was a splendid day for me and I am very pleased," smiled Alex. "The engine of the new bike has a really impressive power and now I am confident for the future. The new tyres performed very well, even though I believe there is still work to do because we were not able to try all the new material provided by Bridgestone and we have still to understand better the tyre characteristics.

"I am very confident because I was able to ride consistently one second quicker than what I was able to achieve in yesterday's race, therefore I am quite satisfied with this starting point.

"I was also happy to work with my new team, they greeted me with a great enthusiasm and I was very thankful to them," he said.

"I am happy with how this first day of preparation has gone for the 2009 season which has started with many new things. Alex tried the new bike for the first time, while Toni has returned to ride a Honda," declared team manager Fausto Gresini.

"Above all, today has been the first day with the new tyre regulations. Alex has also had to settle into a working routine with his new technical team, working together with Antonio Jimenez, while Toni resumed working with Fabrizio Cecchini.

"It has been a day full of new things but it has been a positive day for us. Alex rode very well and for this I am satisfied. Toni started the process of reacclimatising himself to a Honda machine, a situation that he dealt with calmly, a method of working that I fully support."



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