Valentino Rossi says he will take enormous satisfaction and "wonderful memories" from having helped transform Yamaha into a champion team, as he confirmed that his seven-year relationship with the squad would come to a close at the end of the 2010 season.
After months of anticipation in MotoGP circles, Rossi and Yamaha announced this afternoon at Brno that they were set to part company for 2011. Rossi is expected to be announced as a Ducati rider later today, with Ben Spies in line to take his vacant seat at Yamaha.
Yamaha had been off the pace in MotoGP for many years prior to Rossi's arrival, but he won his first race on the M1 in South Africa in 2004 and went on to claim the championship – his first of four with the team.
"It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years," Rossi said. "Many things have changed since that far-off time in 2004, but especially 'she', my M1, has changed. At that time she was a poor middle-grid position MotoGP bike, derided by most of the riders and the MotoGP workers. Now, after having helped her to grow and improve, you can see her smiling in her garage, courted and admired, treated as the 'top of the class'.
"The list of the people who made this transformation possible is very long, but I would like to thank anyway Masao Furusawa, Masahiko Nakajima and 'my' Hiroya Atsumi, as representatives of all the engineers who worked hard to change the face of our M1. Then Jeremy Burgess and all my guys in the garage, who took care of her with love on all the tracks of the world and also all the men and women who have worked in the Yamaha team during these years."
He added that he felt his time with Yamaha had now come to a natural conclusion.
"Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished," said Rossi. "Unfortunately, even the most beautiful love stories finish, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories, like when my M1 and I kissed for the first time on the grass at Welkom, when she looked straight in my eyes and told me 'I love you!'"