Departing Factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies will remain in the MotoGP World Championship next season.

Despite initial claims that Spies would quit MotoGP and return to World Superbikes, the Texan has signed to ride for the satellite Pramac Ducati team alongside rookie Andrea Iannone, who is moving up from the Moto2 class.

It is a brave move for Spies, with the satellite Ducatis having been the least competitive of all the manufacturer machines in recent seasons.

Related Articles

However, upon announcing the signing of Spies and Iannone, Ducati also confirmed that both riders will 'have a direct link with the company' and 'be supplied with official equipment' - assumed to mean bikes close in spec to factory team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden.

The full Ducati statement is as follows:

"Ducati announces that it has signed an agreement with American Ben Spies and Italian Andrea Iannone to compete in the 2013 MotoGP World Championship.

"Having already confirmed Nicky Hayden and announced Andrea Dovizioso for the Ducati Team, the Italian manufacturer now reaffirms its confidence in and commitment to the MotoGP World Championship, finalising its line-up for next season with two riders who are fast and competitive, already protagonists in the MotoGP and Moto2 World Championships.

"At the same time, the partnership has been renewed between Ducati and Pramac Racing, which will continue to be entrusted with management of the satellite team. The two riders, who have a direct link with the company, will be supplied with official equipment.

"This agreement will enable additional important support in the development of the Desmosedici MotoGP project, offering a further opportunity in the process of improving the performance of the Italian bike."

Ducati has not won a race since Casey Stoner left at the end of the 2010 season.

28-year-old Texan Spies, who took his first and so far only MotoGP win at Assen 2011, made the shock announcement that he would be leaving the Factory Yamaha squad on the eve of his home US MotoGP in July.

Two weeks' later Valentino Rossi was announced as taking his place.

It is not known if Spies suspected his seat would go to Rossi, although he spoke of a 'litany of reasons' for his decision and later revealed tension with senior management after a poor ride due to food positioning at Mugello.

The food poisoning was just part of a staggering run of race day misery, which began with a broken seat in Qatar, followed by vision problems in the wet at Le Mans, a fall while trying to take the lead in Catalunya, major tyre problems at Assen, a swingarm failure at Laguna Seca, an engine failure at Indianapolis, then a slipping clutch and a crash at Brno!

All of which has left Spies just tenth in the standings, with a best finish of fourth, after twelve of 18 rounds. As well as BMW in WSBK, Spies had been linked with Suzuki's planned 2014 MotoGP return and next year's still-to-be decided Honda Gresini RC213V ride.

Spies' single-year Ducati deal means he has the potential option of fronting the Suzuki MotoGP project in 2014, or replacing countryman Hayden, whose latest factory Ducati contract expires at the end of next season.

Just behind Spies in the championship is the injured Hector Barbera, Pramac Ducati's present rider, whose season-highlight has been a front row start at Mugello.

A satellite Ducati rider has not finished on the podium since Toni Elias in 2008. Cardion AB's Karel Abraham rides the second GP12 Sat in this year's championship, but Pramac will again have both machines for 2013.

A triple AMA champion for Suzuki, Spies won the World Superbike title for Yamaha at his first attempt in 2009, then switched to MotoGP with the Tech 3 Yamaha team the following season.

Two podiums and a pole made Spies the clear choice to replace the departing Rossi, at the factory team for 2011, when Spies took four podiums, including his Assen win.

Spies' team-mate Jorge Lorenzo leads the 2012 world championship.

23-year-old Iannone is a twelve time grand prix winner, with eight of those victories coming in the Moto2 class, on both Speed Up and Suter machinery.

The Italian has finished third in the Moto2 Championship for the past two seasons.

Iannone first rode an 800cc Ducati at Mugello in 2011, and has tested the latest 1000cc machine twice for the factory this year. Competitive lap times have been reported, convincing both parties that the partnership can work.

Iannone is the third Moto2 rider confirmed as stepping up to MotoGP next season, joining Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).

Fellow Moto2 podium finisher Scott Redding, who tested alongside Iannone for Ducati in early August, is thought to have a chance of the Gresini Honda seat.

However Pol Espargaro - Marquez's nearest title rival - looks to be without any manufacturer MotoGP options, the Gresini RCV being the only non-CRT seat still to be filled.