The worst kept secret in the paddock is finally official, thus completing what MotoGP fans (especially Italians) have been waiting for: Valentino Rossi signing with Ducati Corse. The nine-time World Champion and Italian celebrity is finally paired up with Italy’s most iconic motorcycling brand for the 2011 season, an action that has been the subject of intrigue not only for the better part of this season, but for years inside MotoGP.
Announcing their partnership today, Rossi and Ducati have their work cut out for them in taking-on impressive up-start Jorge Lorenzo and the formidable Yamaha YZR-M1. Press releases from Ducati & Fiat-Yamaha after the jump, along with a quote from Valentino himself.
Ducati Corse Press Release:
VALENTINO ROSSI AND DUCATI TOGETHER FROM 2011
Ducati and Valentino Rossi have signed a two year agreement for the nine-times World Champion to race with the “Rossa” of Borgo Panigale in the Ducati Marlboro Team from 2011.
The arrival of Valentino in Ducati opens a new and exciting chapter in the Italian factory’s sporting history and, indeed, of the whole MotoGP Championship. The opportunity of lining-up such an extraordinary rider and character is considered by Ducati to be a huge value to the whole Ducati MotoGP project.
“We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011,” commented Gabriele Del Torchio, President of Ducati Motor Holding. “He is a paragon of excellence in the world of motorcycling, coherent with our Italian company which is a standard-bearer for “made in Italy” excellence. These are key values for success in technology, design and sportsmanship. In addition to the strong and passionate intent of both parties, this agreement has been made possible by the committed support of our shareholder Investindustrial and all the sponsors associated with the Ducati Marlboro Team, sponsors which have believed in this opportunity and share and support our choices.”
“Firstly, Valentino is a great fan of motorcycles and so it has always been a pleasure for me to listen his opinions,” said Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse General Director. “Until the Valencia GP he will remain a competitor, one so great that he has always given a special value to our victories, but as soon as he rides the Ducati for the first time, we will work together on every single detail that will develop a bike capable of showing his huge talent. Working with Valentino is one of the most exciting things for every Engineer and it’s good to know we will have this great opportunity next season.”
Fiat-Yamaha Press Release:
YAMAHA AND VALENTINO TO PART COMPANY AT END OF 2010
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. would like to announce that the partnership between Valentino Rossi and Yamaha will come to an end at the close of the season, when Valentino will move on to new challenges.
Yamaha and Valentino have enjoyed seven fantastic seasons of racing, during which time they have won four MotoGP World Championships together.
Valentino has played a huge part in the history of Yamaha and he will always remain an important part of Yamaha’s heritage. Yamaha is extremely grateful for Valentino’s contributions to its racing successes over the past seven years and it would like to wish him the very best in his future racing endeavours.
Yamaha will be putting all its efforts into ensuring a successful and happy end to the partnership over the remaining races. Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, said “On behalf of the Yamaha Motor Group, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the amazing seven years that we have spent together. Valentino joined Yamaha in 2004 at a moment when Yamaha was struggling in road racing after eleven seasons without a championship victory. Valentino’s victory at his first GP race for Yamaha in South Africa in 2004 was an incredible moment and was just the first of many more race wins that have thrilled MotoGP fans and Yamaha fans around the world. His unsurpassed skills as a racer and a development rider enabled him to win four MotoGP world titles to date with us and helped Yamaha develop the YZR-M1 into the ‘the bike of reference’ for the MotoGP class.
“There have been so many wonderful experiences and victories and we are very proud to have been able to make history together. Whilst we regret Vale’s decision to move on, at the same time we f ully respect his decision to search for a new challenge and we wish him the very best for 2011 and beyond.
“For the remaining eight races of 2010 Valentino will remain a Yamaha Factory rider. As such he will continue to benefit from our full support and we hope and expect to see some more race wins with him ‘in blue’ before the season is over!”
Statement by Valentino Rossi:
“It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years.
“Many things have changed since that far-off time in 2004, but especially ‘she’, my M1, has changed. At that time she was a poor middle-grid position MotoGP bike, derided by most of the riders and the MotoGP workers. Now, after having helped her to grow and improve, you can see her smiling in her garage, courted and admired, treated as the ‘top of the class’.
“The list of the people that made this transformation possible is very long, but I would like to thank anyway Masao Furusawa, Masahiko Nakajima and ‘my’ Hiroya Atsumi, as representatives of all the engineers that worked hard to change the face of our M1. Then Jeremy Burgess and all my guys in the garage, who took care of her with love on all the tracks of the world and also all the men and women that have worked in the Yamaha team during these years.
“Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished. Unfortunately even the most beautiful love stories finish, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories, like when my M1 and I kissed for the first time on the grass at Welkom, when she looked straight in my eyes and told me ‘I love you!'”
Source: Ducati Corse & Fiat-Yamaha