Ducati has finally confirmed that Valentino Rossi will join its lineup next season, the seven-time MotoGP champion having signed a two-year deal with the Italian squad.
Rossi's move to Ducati has been regarded as near certain by MotoGP insiders for several months, and this afternoon at Brno Yamaha issued a statement announcing that it was parting company with the Italian legend after seven years together, during which Rossi has won four MotoGP championships and 45 grands prix so far.
Rumors of a Rossi-Ducati deal first surfaced last autumn, when Rossi hinted that Yamaha would ultimately have to choose between him and Jorge Lorenzo as he did not believe it could sustain two equal number one riders. He indicated at the time that Ducati would be his alternative if he split with Yamaha, and a deal was believed to have been done during Rossi's injury layoff earlier this year.
Ducati president Gabriele Del Torchio was thrilled that Italy's motorcycle racing hero was finally joining the nation's top MotoGP team.
"We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011," he said. "He is a paragon of excellence in the world of motorcycling, coherent with our Italian company which is a standard-bearer for 'made in Italy' excellence. These are key values for success in technology, design and sportsmanship."
The company's sporting boss Filippo Preziosi was equally pleased, but added that Ducati would continue to race hard against Rossi for the remainder of 2010.
"Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions," said Preziosi. "Until the Valencia GP he will remain a competitor, one so great that he has always given a special value to our victories, but as soon as he rides the Ducati for the first time, we will work together on every single detail that will develop a bike capable of showing his huge talent.
"Working with Valentino is one of the most exciting things for every engineer and it's good to know we will have this great opportunity next season."
Nicky Hayden is expected to be retained as Rossi's teammate, with Ducati's current lead rider Casey Stoner having already announced he will join Honda next year.