According to the BBC
, Cal Crutchlow has signed to become a factory Ducati MotoGP rider for the next two years.
The Englishman, with Tech 3 Yamaha since his rookie 2011 MotoGP season, will take the place of Nicky Hayden, who recently announced his end-of-year Ducati departure.
Official confirmation of the Crutchlow-Ducati deal is expected on Friday.
Crutchlow is the top rider out of contract at the end of 2013, holding fifth place in the MotoGP standings and the leading satellite rider.
The former WSS champion and WSBK race winner has claimed four podiums and one pole so far this year, including two career-best second places.
Despite such success with Tech 3, the 27-year-old has made clear his ambitions for factory status in order to take the next step in his career. With Yamaha unable, or unwilling, to accommodate those wishes, Crutchlow will now become the latest high-profile rider to take on the considerable challenge of the Desmosedici.
Ducati has not won a race since Casey Stoner's departure at the end of 2010 - the last non-Stoner win was in 2007 - and is presently reorganising its project after failing to find success with seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, now back at Yamaha.
Current Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso
and Nicky Hayden
are seventh and ninth in the standings, without a podium. The factory, which won four WSBK titles with Englishman Carl Fogarty, will doubtless be hoping Crutchlow's Bulldog spirit can help force the flagging Desmosedici project forward.
Crutchlow lost out on a factory Ducati seat to Tech 3 team-mate Dovizioso last year, but will now re-join the Italian in 2014. Dovizioso got the better of Crutchlow by six podiums to two on the M1 and next year's rematch will indicate how much Crutchlow has improved since.
Meanwhile, Crutchlow's place at Tech 3 is expected to be taken by Moto2 title contender Pol Espargaro, who is already believed to have signed a Yamaha contract. Crutchlow's rookie team-mate Bradley Smith has a Tech 3 deal until the end of 2014.
Ducati is the only factory team with a vacancy for 2014, Suzuki having delayed its return until 2015.
Hayden's plans are unknown, although Ducati has expressed an interest in keeping the 2006 world champion 'in the family', either on a non-factory MotoGP machine or in WSBK.