While the formal announcement that Valentino Rossi will make the jump to Ducati next season appears increasingly imminent, it seems the Italian manufacturer has jumped the gun and unofficially confirmed he will join in 2011.
Rossi's switch from Yamaha has been mooted for several months, with latest rumours suggesting he will reveal his plans for the future at the end of the Czech Grand Prix in two weeks time.
However, with the deal already thought to be signed and sealed, Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio has apparently confirmed the inevitable in an interview with Cycle World
in which he says he is looking forward to seeing Rossi joining Nicky Hayden in its line-up.
“This season will not bring to Ducati any crown in the sport, but I look forward to Valentino Rossi teaming up with Nicky Hayden,” he said.
“Nicky is a wonderful person and a great rider. This year, he greatly contributed to improving our Desmosedici racer. Next year, he and Valentino will hone the bike to its ultimate winning potential.”
A slip of the tongue or not, the move comes as little surprise as the rider market begins to take shape, Ducati's Casey Stoner having already confirmed he is Honda-bound in 2011. In Rossi's absence, Yamaha are expected to promote Ben Spies alongside Jorge Lorenzo.