As expected, the Pramac Ducati team has officially confirmed that super-sub Aleix Espargaro will ride alongside Mika Kallio during the 2010 MotoGP season.
The 20-year-old Spaniard thus replaces Niccolo Canepa and means that, for the first time since Ducati entered MotoGP in 2003, there will be no Italian rider on a Desmosedici next season - with all five GP10 seats now occupied.
Espargaro, a former 125 and 250cc rider who was left without a grand prix ride for this season, stepped in to replace Kallio at the Indianapolis and Misano rounds, where - despite no previous MotoGP experience - he finished 13th and eleventh.
"Life can change so quickly in just a few months!” admitted Espargaro, who took a best finish of fourth in 125 and 250. “At the beginning of this year I had to stay home as my 250cc team retired from the championship and now I have the opportunity to ride with the fastest riders in the world in MotoGP.
“I also had some really interesting offers from Moto2, but as soon as Paolo Campinoti made me the offer to race for his team I took less than a second to accept. I found myself really well in the races ridden for them this season: I was enthusiastic of their professionalism. They work really close with Ducati and they have immediate technical feedback when needed.
“The bike has impressed me so much for its power and its manageability. I have to thank the Pramac Racing Team, Paolo Campinoti and Ducati for this fantastic opportunity they are giving me,” he concluded.
Campinoti revealed that Espargaro's youth and speed had been the decisive factor.
"Our collaboration with Ducati Corse became stronger through the years and from this season we have begun the project to become a sort of junior Team where to grow young talented riders,” he said. “This year we have already obtained good results thanks to Mika Kallio performances and this is why the Finnish rider will remain with us next season.
“This is and will be our mentality; in fact, from this point it has begun the idea to give the possibility to Aleix to ride for us in 2010. In Indianapolis he has demonstrated to be competitive since the first laps in both track conditions, dry and wet, and in Misano he confirmed his good feeling with this category. We really count on him; his attitude and devotion to this sport give us a lot of trust. He is a determined rider and we are sure that he will give us a lot of satisfactions.”
Espargaro's appointment means that Canepa looks set to leave MotoGP after just one season.
The 21-year-old former Superstock champion and Ducati test rider has taken a best finish of eighth for far this year - the same as Kallio on the satellite bike - and failed to finish only one race (at Indianapolis, due to a technical problem).