Ducati has officially confirmed that, as rumoured, Honda rookie Casey Stoner will join its factory team for the 2007 MotoGP season - at the expense of Sete Gibernau.

21-year-old Stoner will thus ride a Marlboro backed Ducati, on Bridgestone tyres, for the first season of 800cc racing, with a further option for 2008, and compete alongside 33-year-old veteran Loris Capirossi - who has been with the Ducati MotoGP project from its 2003 debut and taken three race wins so far this season.

"I am really happy to have been given this opportunity to race with the Ducati Marlboro Team next year. Ducati have made a lot of progress in the last couple of years and I think they can also do a great job with the new 800," said Stoner. "It's a great privilege for me to be Loris Capirossi's team-mate. I watched him race before I started my career and now it's a real honour to be in the same team as him on the same bike.

"Finally I'd like to thank (current team manager) Lucio Cecchinello," added the young Australian, who has taken one pole position and one podium with the Honda LCR team - which has already announced the signing of Carlos Checa to replace Stoner. "We have worked well together over the years but I feel that the possibility of racing in a factory team is the best thing for my future."

Stoner's signing means that, for the first time since joining MotoGP, the factory Ducati team has opted for youth over experience - Capirossi's previous team-mates having been Troy Bayliss, Carlos Checa and most recently Gibernau.

33-year-old Gibernau joined the team this season from Honda, where he was a double MotoGP championship runner-up, but the Spaniard has been hampered by injury this season and failed to take a podium finish. Ironically, Gibernau has been ruled out of the Valencia season finale after hitting Stoner's fallen bike early in last Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix - re-injuring his still healing collarbone, breaking a bone in his hand and ending his Ducati career one race early.

"It's always nice to welcome someone to our large family but it is just as difficult to say goodbye to someone who leaves," said Claudio Domenicali, managing director of Ducati Corse and Ducati's director of product development. "We are at the end of a season that has given us great satisfaction but which on the other hand has proved to have been particularly difficult for Sete. Despite his devotion and his undoubted talent, a number of factors have prevented him from obtaining the results to live up to everyone's expectations. Our heartfelt thanks go out to him for his commitment and professionalism and we wish him all the best for his future.

"I am delighted to welcome Casey to Ducati," he continued. "He is a very promising rider, with talent and determination in abundance. We are sure that with the help of our and Loris's experience, he will get to know our bike and his experience will mature in line with the development of the GP7. With his enthusiasm and aggressive riding style, Casey is sure to give our fans some extraordinary emotions, in the best spirit of Ducati."

Gibernau's 2007 MotoGP options now look limited to Kawasaki, d'Antin Ducati, Tech 3 Yamaha or Ilmor - while his seat at Valencia could be taken by Bayliss, Ducati's 2006 World Superbike champion.