Rizla Suzuki has confirmed that Loris Capirossi will ride alongside rookie Alvaro Bautista in the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.
The decision means that, as reported last Saturday, Chris Vermeulen - the most successful Suzuki rider of the four-stroke era in terms of wins and podiums - will leave the team at the end of the season.
After spending four years leading Ducati's MotoGP challenge, Capirossi was left in the slipstream of new team-mate and eventual world champion Casey Stoner during the first year of 800cc racing and lost his seat to countryman Marco Melandri.
With hindsight, Capirossi's 2007 season was still the best by any 800cc Desmosedici rider other than Stoner - Loris took one win and three other podiums for seventh in the standings - but he turned down the possibility of a third factory Ducati to start a new challenge at Suzuki.
Capirossi claimed one podium and tenth in the championship during his first, injury-interrupted, season on the GSV-R in 2008. Despite promising winter test performances, no Suzuki rider has finished on the podium so far in 2009, with Capirossi five points and one place ahead of Vermeulen for ninth in the championship after eleven rounds.
"I am very happy to continue working with Suzuki and everyone involved with the Racing Group and the team," said Capirossi, who has agreed a new one-year deal. "I love working with my crew and feel really at home here.
"When I joined Suzuki I really wanted to win races and this is still the target. I love the competition and the challenge and my ambition to succeed is as strong as ever. We are 100% focused on developing the GSV-R into a race-winning machine and the improvements that have come through recently show that Suzuki is working in the right direction.
"I am pleased to have signed again at this time of the season as it gives me a great motivation for the rest of the year and an incentive to get the bike ready for 2010," concluded the 36-year-old, who has been a grand prix rider since 1990 and won nine 500cc/MotoGP races.
"Loris brings so much character, bravery and experience to Suzuki, and his technical input is invaluable," stated team manager Paul Denning. "He still has an enormous drive and determination to succeed - we now have to react to his requests and give him the tools to be as competitive as possible. We hope that Loris, with the youthful exuberance of Alvaro alongside him next season, will be a good partnership. Loris is a great team-mate but certainly won't want to be beaten by the younger guy so I am sure he will be fighting hard!"
After making his MotoGP debut as a replacement for Troy Bayliss at Camel Honda in late 2005, Vermeulen has been a Suzuki rider throughout his full-time grand prix career.
The 27-year-old Australian has seven GSV-R podiums to his credit, three more than next best John Hopkins, and is the only rider to have taken a race win with the machine, a wet weather victory at Le Mans in 2007.
Vermeulen, a former World Supersport champion and ten time World Superbike race winner, is now considering options in both MotoGP and WSBK.
"This announcement confirms that Suzuki and Chris Vermeulen will not be working together in 2010," said Denning. "On behalf of Suzuki Motor Corporation and the whole team, including title sponsor Rizla, I want to wish Chris the best of luck in his future career. He has been a great asset to us and a true professional at all times - even when things have not quite gone to plan.
"We have had some amazing high-points with Chris - taking Suzuki's first four-stroke grand prix win at Le Mans in 2007 being the obvious highlight. We hope that he continues to have success throughout his career and trust that Chris, Toni and his family will always remain friends of the team."
Suzuki GSV-R results by rider - 2002-present:
1. Chris Vermeulen: 1 (wins) 7 (podiums) 3 (poles) 6th (championship)
2. John Hopkins: 0 (wins) 4 (podiums) 1 (poles) 4th (championship)
3. Kenny Roberts Jr: 0 (wins) 2 (podiums) 1 (poles) 9th (championship)
4. Loris Capirossi: 0 (wins) 1 (podiums) 0 (poles) 10th (championship)
5. Akira Ryo* 0 (wins) 1 (podiums) 0 (poles) 18th (championship)
championship = highest championship placing with the GSV-R.