Super-sub Aleix Espargaro is to be rewarded for his impressive two-race stint at the Pramac Ducati team with a full time ride for the 2010 MotoGP season.
The Spaniard will ride alongside the retained Mika Kallio, whom Espargaro replaced at the Indianapolis and Misano rounds while the Finn stood in for Casey Stoner at the factory Ducati team.
Despite no prior knowledge of the hard-to-tame Desmosedici, or indeed any MotoGP machine, the 20-year-old beat at least one rider in every session at Indy - on his way to 13th in the race - then broke into the MotoGP top ten in free practice at Misano.
Espargaro, whose best race finish in the lower grand prix classes is fourth position, finished eleventh in the San Marino Grand Prix and set the fifth fastest race lap. Team-mate Niccolo Canepa finished 13th.
That was enough for Pramac to try and retain Espargaro, at Canepa's expense, when Kallio returned to the satellite team for Estoril.
The move appeared to be vetoed by Ducati, which made sure Canepa's contract was honoured, but a spokesman for the Pramac Ducati team has told Crash.net
that an announcement confirming Espargaro's 2010 deal is now imminent.
The news means that, for the first time since entering MotoGP in 2003, Ducati will not have an Italian rider next season - with the other four 2010 rides already confirmed as going to Australian Casey Stoner (Marlboro), American Nicky Hayden (Marlboro), Finn Mika Kallio (Pramac) and Spaniard Hector Barbera (Aspar).
Rookies Canepa and Kallio have both taken a best finish of eighth for Pramac this season, although Kallio managed seventh with the factory team and has twice fallen from sixth in a race.
Espargaro was without a grand prix ride in any class at the start of this season.
Axed Honda Gresini riders Toni Elias (who took two podiums for Pramac last season) and Alex de Angelis had also been linked to the vacant Pramac MotoGP seat. They, like former Ducati test rider Canepa, will probably now have to set their sights on Moto2 or WSBK.
Meanwhile, the Pramac team spokesman also confirmed that Pramac will use Moriwaki frames in Moto2 next season, but that the riders are still unknown.