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.