Marco Melandri has confirmed that he will leave the San Carlo Honda Gresini team at the end of the 2010 MotoGP season and move to the World Superbike Championship with Yamaha.

Melandri has been a full time grand prix rider since 1998 in the 125cc class and has taken a total of 22 GP wins - 5 in MotoGP, 10 in 250cc and 7 in 125cc.

The Italian won the 250cc world championship in 2002 and moved to MotoGP with a factory Yamaha ride the following season.

Valentino Rossi's arrival saw the #33 switch to Tech 3 Yamaha for 2004, whom he left under something of a cloud before joining Honda Gresini in 2005, where he finished second to Rossi in the World Championship with two wins.

Melandri then won three races for the Gresini team in 2006, but no satellite rider has won since the start of the 800cc era in 2007, the year Melandri took his last two podiums for Gresini.

A dream move to the factory Ducati team for 2008 turned into a nightmare, but Melandri rebuilt his reputation with the Hayate-run Kawasaki in 2009, leading to a Gresini Honda return in 2010.

But Melandri is only ninth in the championship after twelve rounds and can't get the RC212V to work as he would like and he has now decided to make a fresh start in WSBK with the factory-backed 2009 title-winning Sterilgarda team.

"I'm very happy with this new challenge, it's a big change and I want to fight for world Superbike wins," said 28-year-old Melandri. "It's nice to be back with Yamaha; I know many people there; I was very young when I rode with them before, now I'm much more mature.

"As the reigning 2009 champions The Yamaha Sterilgarda Team have proved to have a very competitive package and are one of the top teams in World Superbike. I realise Superbike is not easy and I know I have to work hard. I'm looking forward to feeling the adrenalin again and fighting for the championship.

"I felt that I needed a new challenge and the genuine opportunity to be back fighting for wins and podiums led me to make this choice. It will be a big change for me but I would like to thank Fausto and everybody else at Team San Carlo Honda Gresini for the opportunity they gave me this season."

"I would like to thank Marco for this season on behalf of myself, our sponsors and everybody who works with the team," said Fausto Gresini. "I'm glad that we were able to spend another season together because we are great friends and I hope that we can achieve the results that have eluded us so far in what remains of the championship.

"I encourage him to take on his next challenge with great determination and I am sure he can be as successful there as he was with us in 2005, 2006 and 2007."

Melandri's deal comes just minutes after present Yamaha Sterilgarda rider cal Crutchlow was confirmed as moving to MotoGP with Tech 3 next year. The future of James Toseland, Crutchlow's team-mate, is less clear.