Ducati has extended Nicky Hayden's contract by a further two years, meaning the American will stay on to partner Valentino Rossi in 2011 and 2012.
Hayden joined Ducati from Honda at the start of the 2009 season. He initially struggled to acclimatize to the Desmosedici and was only 13th in last year's standings - but he has been much more competitive in the 2010 campaign. Although he has yet to repeat his '09 Indianapolis podium this year, he is sixth in the championship and has been much more evenly matched with current teammate Casey Stoner.
Ducati sporting boss Filippo Preziosi said the determination Hayden showed as he worked to improve his form really endeared him to the team.
"We are really pleased that Nicky will be staying with us for the next two years," said Preziosi. "It is no secret that he is a rider who never gives up. His whole racing history shows it. As a person his tenacity is an example for us all because he shows us that nothing is impossible if you truly believe. His progress since arriving at Ducati has been impressive and I am sure this trend will continue in the future.
"Nicky is also a special rider because of his attention to every detail and for him having Valentino as his teammate means a huge contribution towards the development of an even more competitive motorcycle. I think it is these characteristics that have won the hearts of all the Ducatisti and that is the reason why a Ducati is the bike for him right now."
Hayden felt he had made huge progress since first joining Ducati. This weekend at Indianapolis he took his first front row start with the team.
"Last year I felt like I rode for Ducati but now I really feel as if I am a Ducati rider," said the 2006 champion."The team, sponsors and Ducati fans have really taken me in and supported me a lot and I really hope to pay them back with the results they deserve."
The arrival of Rossi at Ducati next year will renew a partnership last seen when the Italian and Hayden were team-mates at Honda in 2003.
"Next year I'll be teamed with some guy named Rossi who knows a little something about bikes!" Hayden joked. "We're going to have a strong squad. I won't predict results but I have no doubt this team will have some real passion, real worth ethic and a lot of fun. It is the start of a new era at Ducati and it is an honor for me to be a part of it."