The careful sequence of events surrounding the 'handover' of Valentino Rossi is now complete, after the issuing of an official statement from Ducati confirming that the Italian MotoGP megastar will join its factory team for 2011 and 2012.
30 minutes earlier Yamaha had earlier announced, via a press release, that Rossi would be leaving after the completion of his seventh season with the Japanese brand - ending a partnership that yielded instant title success in 2004 and three further world crowns.
“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.”
“Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions,” added 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.”
Rossi, who already holds the record for 500cc/MotoGP race wins (78), needs one more title to tie Giacomo Agostini's record of eight premier-class championships and is 18 race wins short of Agostini's all time record of 122 grand prix wins in all grand prix classes.
By switching to Ducati, Rossi can also try to become the only rider ever to win the 500cc/MotoGP crown for three different manufacturers.
Since joining MotoGP in 2003, Ducati has taken 28 race wins, but 20 of them have been with Casey Stoner - who handed Ducati its first and so far only MotoGP crown in 2007 and is leaving the team for Honda at the end of this year.
Rossi thus replaces Stoner and looks certain to ride alongside Nicky Hayden.
Rossi and 2006 world champion Hayden raced together at Honda in 2003 and a contract for the American to remain a Desmosedici rider for a third season is seen as a formality.
Rossi and Ducati will be desperate to work together at the Valencia test, held in November - immediately after the end of the racing season - but that will depend upon permission from Yamaha.
What is known is that Rossi will still test for Yamaha at Brno on Monday, but any 2011 parts are likely to be handed to present team-mate Lorenzo and possibly Ben Spies, who will take Rossi's place at the factory team.