It has been officially announced that MotoGP superstar Valentino Rossi will conclude his Ducati career at the end of 2012.
Rossi had moved to Ducati with the aim of trying to become the first ever rider to win premier-class titles for three different manufacturers, but has claimed just two podiums from 27 starts.
A statement from Yamaha should follow shortly, confirming Rossi's return to the team with which he won four of his seven MotoGP titles.
“As the MotoGP series awaits its return to action for the August 19 Indianapolis Grand Prix, Ducati announces that its working relationship with Valentino Rossi will conclude at the end of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship," said the Ducati statement.
“Ducati wishes the Italian well for the new challenges that await him, and in the meantime, the team will continue to give its best effort in order to improve over the latter part of the season.
“Racing has always been in Ducati's DNA, and now more than ever, it is integral to the Borgo Panigale company's product development and image. AUDI shares Ducati's strategic approach and agrees with its growing commitment to competition.
“Therefore, having recently renewed its agreement with American Nicky Hayden, Ducati is in the process of finalizing the team that will take part in the 2013 World Championship, confident that its team and bike will be capable of competing at the highest level.”
Among the leading contenders to take Rossi's place at Ducati are Yamaha Tech 3 riders Andrea Dovizioso or Cal Crutchlow, who have both had their Factory M1 hopes thwarted by Rossi's return.
Rossi is eighth in the 2012 world championship, two points behind team-mate and top Ducati rider Hayden. At the same stage last season Rossi was fifth in the championship with 108 points.
Ducati won the 2007 MotoGP title with Casey Stoner.