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Melandri and Elias to lead Fortuna Honda bid

Melandri and Elias to lead Fortuna Honda bid

Melandri and Elias to lead Fortuna Honda bid

Fortuna have announced that they are to team up with the Italian Gresini Team and Honda next season with Marco Melandri and Toni Elias to lead their challenge in the MotoGP class. The tobacco manufacturer has agreed a two-year deal with the Italian outfit, who are managed by Fausto Gresini, and will run two Honda RCV211s in next year's championship.

It means that Melandri, who took his second consecutive MotoGP victory at Valencia on Sunday, will renew his acquaintance with the Fortuna brand after one season racing for the Movistar Honda team. The young Italian, who will be expected to challenge Valentino Rossi for the World Championship next year after his progress this season, spoke of his delight at joining the Fortuna Honda team.

"I am very happy to work with Fortuna again, a very prestigious sponsor who believed in me when I moved to MotoGP. I'm very proud to meet them again after one year away, it's a demonstration of great trust," explained Marco Melandri. "They believe in my potential and I believe in their project. I hope to pay their trust back with the results that I didn't manage in past years."

Melandri will be joined by Spanish starlet Elias who clinched the ‘Rookie of the Year' title in the MotoGP class after his tenth-placed finish in Valencia. The Catalan rider has made a real impression in his debut season in the premier class aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 and is looking forward to teaming up with Melandri.

"I am really happy to take part in this new and ambitious project based on the experience of the Gresini team, the technical support of Honda and obviously Fortuna, to whom I am immensely thankful," stated the 22-year-old. "I am really happy to have Marco as a team-mate because he is a great rider and great guy. I have a lot to learn and I am at the right place to do it so I am really looking forward to starting work with my new team."

A lot will be expected of the dynamic young duo next season, but Gresini is confident that his new team will prove a big success. "We are excited about presenting a young team with enormous potential," he declared. "With five podiums and two victories, Marco has been a star of what has been a great season. Next year we will aim to consolidate and improve his results. We are also pleased to announce the arrival of Toni Elias, the 22-year-old Spanish rider, who has ridden in Fortuna colours for three years. After one year of apprenticeship in MotoGP, we are delighted to have him in our team and to start this adventure that will see him debut on a Honda. We believe in his potential and we are sure that together we can obtain good results."

MotoGP, 2005, Marco Melandri, Toni Elias

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