Forward Racing has officially confirmed that Valentino Rossi's half-brother will make his full time grand prix debut in next year's Moto2 World Championship.

Marini was present alongside fellow VR46 Academy rider Lorenzo Baldassarri in last month's provisional 2016 entry list and Giovanni Cuzari's squad has now revealed that the 18-year-old has signed 'a multi-year contract'.

Marini made his grand prix debut as a Moto3 wild-card at the 2013 Misano round, returning in the Moto2 class this season when he finished in 21st place. The Italian also claimed fifth overall in this year's Moto2 CEV Championship.

"I am happy and at the same time excited for this great opportunity!" Marini said. "Next season will be very important and demanding. Going to Forward Racing is a great opportunity for me to grow and learn from the team and from my teammate: I want to exploit this to the fullest! I want to thank Giovanni and the VR46 Riders Academy for this opportunity and I hope to repay their trust in me with my work."

Cuzari added: "I'm really happy to announce the arrival of a new rider for the 2016 season. Luca is a young rider that we are proud to welcome to our team with the goal of growing together. Luca will be deployed alongside the 'Balda' and together will form a pair of talented young Italians riding the Kalex of Forward Racing. To confirm the confidence and support that VR46 Riders Academy wanted to give our project for 2016 is also for me a further reason for satisfaction."

Baldassarri finished ninth in this year's world championship, the highlight of which was a debut podium at Phillip Island, with team-mate Simone Corsi twelfth.

Having closed its MotoGP team, Moto2 will be Forward's only grand prix focus in 2016, alongside a new project in WSBK with MV Agusta.

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