News 16 Aug 2010

MotoGP: Ducati confirms Rossi switch for 2011 and 2012

The Ducati Marlboro Team has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will be joining the Italian team in 2011 and 2012, replacing Honda-bound Aussie Casey Stoner alongside American Nicky Hayden.

Rossi will officially join the Ducati Marlboro Team in 2011 and 2012.

Rossi will officially join the Ducati Marlboro Team in 2011 and 2012.

The worst kept secret in world motorcycling was confirmed on Sunday directly following the Brno round of the MotoGP World Championship, with Ducati confirming that Valentino Rossi will be joining the Italian team in 2011 and 2012.

Ducati and Rossi have signed a two-year agreement for the nine-time world champion to race with the “Rossa” of Borgo Panigale in the Ducati Marlboro Team, expected to be partnered by American former teammate Nicky Hayden as Australian Casey Stoner leaves for Honda.

“We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011,” commented Gabriele Del Torchio, president of Ducati Motor Holding. “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. In addition to the strong and passionate intent of both parties, this agreement has been made possible by the committed support of our shareholder Investindustrial and all the sponsors associated with the Ducati Marlboro Team, sponsors which have believed in this opportunity and share and support our choices.”

The arrival of Rossi to Ducati opens a new and exciting chapter in the Italian factory’s sporting history and of the whole MotoGP championship. The opportunity of lining-up such an extraordinary rider and character is considered by Ducati to be a huge value to the whole Ducati MotoGP project.

“Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions,” said Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse general director.

“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.”

In an announcement from Yamaha, Rossi commented on his seven years with the factory team without mentioning his switch to Ducati for next season.

“It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years,” Rossi explained. “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’.”

Rossi was thankful to the many Yamaha engineers who assisted him in making the successful transition from Honda in 2004.

“The list of the people that 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 that worked hard to change the face of our M1,” he said. ”

“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 that have worked in the Yamaha team during these years. Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished.

“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!'”

It is yet to be confirmed whether or not Rossi’s longtime crew including Australians Jeremy Burgess and Alex Briggs will join him at Ducati, however it’s expected that they will join him as they did when he switched from Honda to Yamaha.

American rookie Ben Spies will replace Rossi alongside world champion elect Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha in 2011.