A report by the UK's Daily Telegraph claims that Valentino Rossi will quit MotoGP at the end of 2012 - 'if not before'.

Superstar Rossi, a 79-time MotoGP race winner for Honda and Yamaha between 2000-2010, has taken just one podium finish since switching to Ducati for 2011.

In January, the nine time world champion indicated he would remain in MotoGP for at least two more years beyond the end of his present contract, which expires at the end of the season.

However the British broadsheet claims the 33-year-old Italian's plans have changed:

"The Daily Telegraph understands that Rossi has now told his inner circle -- his father, Graziano and his manager, Davide Brivio -- that he will not race beyond this year.

"His decision may have been influenced by the likely departure this [coming] winter of his legendary chief engineer and mentor, Australian Jerry Burgess, for personal reasons."

The report adds that Rossi could even quit MotoGP after his home Misano event, in mid-September, and that he is considering switching to rallying or sports car racing.

Rumours that Rossi - who has taken a best finish of seventh from his first three races with this year's radically redesigned Desmosedici GP12 - might return to either Honda or Yamaha for the 2013 MotoGP season are described as just speculation.

Rossi's personality has dominated MotoGP since 2000 and he remains by far the most popular rider on the grid, despite his lack of recent track success.

After being crowned 125cc and 250cc world champion, The Doctor won the premier-class 500cc title in 2001, then MotoGP crown in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Rossi broke a leg in practice for his home Mugello round in 2010, but returned to take his final win for Yamaha at the Malaysian event later that year.

Outside of MotoGP, the #46 has competed in WRC rounds, sportscar races and made several high-profile tests for the Ferrari F1 team.

Ducati continues to work flat out on developments to improve the competitiveness of this year's machine, which is the factory's first to feature a conventional aluminium frame, as used on the Japanese MotoGP bikes.

A new engine is due to be tested later this month, but the full upgrade package won't be available until the US round at the end of July (see separate story).

Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner recently dismissed suggestions that he plans to retire at the end of this year. Rossi will now have to face similar questions during the forthcoming French MotoGP at Le Mans from May 18-20.

All of the top MotoGP riders are out of contract at the end of 2012.

UPDATE: Valentino Rossi has now responded to the retirement claims made in the Telegraph story...