• Kyodo News

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Honda Motor Co. said Friday it has sold its Formula One team to team boss Ross Brawn, paving the way for its eagerly awaited return to competition in the 2009 F1 season.

U.K.-based Honda GP Holdings Ltd., which had managed all the activities of the Honda Racing F1 Team, sold its entire stake to Brawn, who renamed the team the Brawn GP Formula One Team.

“The past few months have been extremely challenging for the team, but today’s announcement is the very pleasing conclusion to the strenuous efforts that have been made to secure its future,” Brawn said in a statement.

Brawn said he will retain Britain’s Jenson Button and Brazil’s Rubens Barrichello as team drivers to compete for the season opening at the Australian Grand Prix later this month. The new team has also inked a deal to use Mercedes-Benz engines.

The new team will first take part in preseason tests in Spain ahead of the first race of the season in Melbourne at the end of March.

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