As rumoured, it has been officially announced that Ducati test rider Niccolo Canepa and KTM's 250GP star Mika Kallio will ride for the Pramac Ducati team - currently backed by Alice - in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship.
Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo had told Crash.net
in mid-July that Canepa and Kallio were on a shortlist for the satellite Desmosedici rides and, having failed to retain Toni Elias, both will now make their MotoGP debuts next season.
"We are very happy to have two very promising riders in Kallio and Canepa," said Pramac Racing team principal Paolo Campinoti. "Mika is doing really well in 250 and we are confident that he will be able to continue his positive trend in the top class.
"Niccolò has shown his abilities on the Ducati Desmosedici during this seasons tests and this has convinced Ducati and us to let him step up into MotoGP. Together with Ducati we have agreed to create a sort of 'Junior Team'.
"A part of me is sad that we are not able to continue with our current riders, Toni Elias and Sylvain Guintoli, because they have done a lot for the Alice Team during this season. I want to publically thank them for their work and for bringing us to date, two unforgettable podiums. I wish them a future rich in success and happiness."
The two new Pramac riders will have a satellite version of the Desmosedici GP9, which features a carbon fibre chassis, at their disposal next season.
Kallio joined the factory KTM team midway through his second full 125cc season, in 2003, but had just two podiums to his credit by the end of the following year. However, 2005 was a breakthrough season for the Finn, who scored his first four victories plus a further six podiums to finish second in the world championship standings.
Kallio was 125cc title runner-up once again in 2006, before making an instant impact on his debut season in the quarter-litre class, with two race wins. The 25-year-old made an excellent start to this season's championship, winning three of the first eight races, but steadily lost ground to Gilera's Marco Simoncelli - who took the title lead at round ten in Germany.
Mika then lost second in the standings to Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista and heads to the final round 15 points clear of fourth placed Alex Debon after a technical DNF at Sepang. Nevertheless, Kallio comfortably remains the top KTM rider, with the new best Austrian machine that of team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama in seventh, 63 points behind Kallio.