Nicky Hayden has agreed a new two-year contract with Ducati, which means the American will continue to ride a factory Desmosedici in the last year of 800cc racing (2011) and first year of the new 1000cc rules (2012).

Hayden will team-up with seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, who leaves Yamaha at the end of this season to replace Casey Stoner. Rossi also has a two-year contract.

Hayden and Rossi were team-mates in 2003 at Repsol Honda, during Hayden's first MotoGP season.

The #69 has been far more competitive during his second year at Ducati, scoring more than twice as many points compared with this time last year, and inflicting two rare team-mate defeats on Stoner, on his way to sixth in the world championship after ten rounds.

Hayden is yet to better fourth place in 2010 - which he has achieved four times - but has claimed his first ever Ducati front row start for Sunday's Indianapolis round.

"I am very proud to be signing for Ducati again," Hayden stated. "Last year I felt like I rode for Ducati but now I really feel as if I am a Ducati rider. The team, sponsors and Ducati fans have really taken me in and supported me a lot and I really hope to pay them back with the results they deserve.

"Next year I'll be teamed with some guy named Rossi who knows a little something about bikes! We're going to have a strong squad - I won't predict results but I have no doubt this team will have some real passion, real worth ethic and a lot of fun. It is the start of a new era at Ducati and it is an honour for me to be a part of it," added the 2006 world champion.

Ducati Corse Director Filippo Preziosi highlighted Hayden's never-give-up attitude and attention to detail as his greatest qualities and he expects the American to continue to improve over the next two years.

"We are really pleased that Nicky will be staying with us for the next two years. It is no secret that he is a rider who never gives up, his whole racing history shows it. As a person his tenacity is an example for us all because he shows us that nothing is impossible if you truly believe. His progress since arriving at Ducati has been impressive and I am sure this trend will continue in the future.

"Nicky is also a special rider because of his attention to every detail and for him having Valentino as his team-mate means a huge contribution towards the development of an even more competitive motorcycle. I think it is these characteristics that have won the hearts of all the Ducatisti and that is the reason why a Ducati is the bike for him right now."

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