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.
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.