Gresini Racing is a motorcycle racing team currently competing in the MotoGP World Championship under the name Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, the Moto2 World Championship as Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 and in the Moto3 World Championship under the name Gresini Racing Moto3.
The team was founded in 1997 by two-time 125cc world champion Fausto Gresini, after the end of his racing career. The team competed in the 500cc class for two seasons before dropping down to the 250cc class in 1999. In 2001, Gresini's rider Daijiro Kato won the 250cc title. The following season, the team stepped up to the MotoGP class, where they have been competing since. The team also competes in the Moto2 class since 2010. That season, Gresini's rider Toni Elías won the inaugural Moto2 title.
Fausto Gresini founded the team in 1997 with Fabrizio Cecchini as the technical director. The team competed in the 500cc class with Brazilian rider Alex Barros and a Honda NSR500V two-cylinder bike. Barros ranked ninth in the final championship standings, and managed to record the team's first podium finish at Donington Park. The following year, Honda decided to supply Barros and the team with a Honda NSR500 four-cylinder bike, the same bike that was used by the factory team. Barros recorded two podium finishes and a series of top-five finishes to collect 138 points and fifth place in the final standings.
In 1999, the team dropped down to the 250cc class with a factory-supported Honda NSR250 and reigning 250cc world champion Loris Capirossi as the rider. In the first race of the season at Sepang, Malaysia, Capirossi took the first ever win for the Gresini team. During the season, he earned two more wins and six other podium finishes, and finished the season third in the final standings with 209 points.
After Capirossi stepped up to the 500cc for the 2000 season, the team signed young Japanese rider Daijiro Kato and French rider Vincent Philippe. Kato, who had already won two races as a wild-card racer in 1997 and 1998, made an instant impact with four consecutive podium finishes at the start of the season. He became a title contender for the 250cc title along with Yamaha riders Shinya Nakano and Olivier Jacque until the last race of the season at Phillip Island, Australia. However, Kato finished third in the race and lost the title and the runner-up position to Jacque and Nakano respectively. Kato's 259 points and third place in the championship handed him the Rookie of the Year award in the 250cc class.
In 2001, the team was renamed Telefónica Movistar Honda and former 125cc world champion Emilio Alzamora was signed to replace Philippe. With both Nakano and Jacque moving to the 500cc class, Kato became the main contender for the 250cc title. Kato dominated the season by winning 11 races during the season, handing the Gresini team their first world title. Alzamora added two podium finishes for the team as he went on to finish seventh in the final standings.
The team returned to the premier class in 2002 as Fortuna Honda Gresini with Kato as their sole rider. Due to the rule changes, the 500cc class was renamed MotoGP and the new 990cc four-stroke bikes were introduced by the factory teams. Kato rode the older Honda NSR500 two-stroke bike for the first nine races of the season before he received the new Honda RC211V prior to the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Kato finished in second place for his first podium finish in the MotoGP class. He matched his best finish with another second place at Brno, in his first race with the new four-stroke bike. He also recorded the team's first ever pole position in the MotoGP class in the Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi, Japan. Kato ranked seventh in the final standings with 117 points and won the Rookie of the Year award, while the team ranked eighth in the MotoGP team standings. The team also competed in the 250cc class with Alzamora and Italian rider Roberto Rolfo. Rolfo was ranked third in the final standings with seven podium finishes while Alzamora was seventh with two podiums.
In 2003, the team expanded their MotoGP class effort to two riders and was renamed Telefónica Movistar Honda as title sponsor Telefónica joined from Suzuki. Former Suzuki rider Sete Gibernau also joined the team as their second rider. Kato remained with the team and became one of four Honda official riders, riding the latest 2003-spec RC211V, while Gibernau was given the modified 2002 bike. In the opening race at Suzuka, Japan, Kato crashed into the tyre barrier. He suffered serious injuries and went into a coma for two weeks before he died in hospital. A week after Kato's death, Gibernau started from pole position and won the South African Grand Prix at Welkom, which marked the first race win for the Gresini team in the MotoGP class. During the post-race interview, Gibernau dedicated the win for his late teammate. He remained as the team's sole rider until reigning Japanese Supersport champion Ryuichi Kiyonari joined the team from the fourth race onwards. The team also promoted Gibernau to the 2003-spec bike left by Kato, while Kiyonari received the modified 2002 bike. Gibernau won three more races and recorded a total of ten podium finishes as he took the second place in the championship with 277 points. The team was ranked fourth in the teams standings as Gibernau and Kiyonari scored a combined 299 points.
In 2004, Gibernau fought for the championship and finished runner up. His teammate, Colin Edwards, finished fifth. Gibernau remained with the team for 2005 and was joined by Marco Melandri. Melandri won two races. In 2006 the team lined up Melandri and Toni Elías with Elías bringing Fortuna sponsorship back to the team, and the team achieved four victories, three for Melandri and one for Elías. Both riders remained with the team in 2007, albeit losing the Fortuna sponsorship due to European Tobacco Regulations. The team also changed their tyre supplier to Bridgestone. The new 800 cc Honda RC212V did not deliver the results expected and the team finished the season with 2 podiums. For 2008, Alex de Angelis and Shinya Nakano joined the team, with a new sponsor – San Carlo. For 2009, Elías re-joined the team, replacing Nakano who deferred to World Superbikes.
In 2010, Marco Melandri re-joined the team after a turbulent period riding for Ducati and Kawasaki, with 2008 250cc champion Marco Simoncelli announced as his new teammate. The Gresini team won the inaugural Moto2 division with rider Toni Elías aboard a Honda powered Moriwaki chassis. In the MotoGP division, Simoncelli finished eighth overall while Melandri ended the season in tenth place.
For 2011, Simoncelli was promoted to ride a factory Honda as part of the Gresini team, whilst Hiroshi Aoyama rode a satellite Honda for the team. Simoncelli was competitive at the top end of the field but a number of crashes kept his points score low. In October 2011 it was announced that Simoncelli would remain with the team for the 2012 season, however, Aoyama announced a move to Castrol Honda in the Superbike World Championship. On 23 October 2011, Simoncelli was killed after an accident at the Malaysian Grand Prix.Notes
* Season still in progress.
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
* Season still in progress.