Valentino Rossi Signs Two-Year Contract with Ducati

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UPDATE 3: Ducati has officially announced signing Valentino Rossi.

UPDATE 2: Ducati Motor Holdings CEO Gabriele del Torchio has confirmed that Valentino Rossi will race with Ducati in 2011.

UPDATE: Ducati & Yamaha have made a gentlemen’s agreement to delay the announcement of Rossi’s move until after Laguna Seca, in exchange for letting the Italian test the Desmosedici GP10 at the Valencian Round.

Let’s avoid the the “scoops”, “exclusives”, and “OMG’s”, and just say that Asphalt & Rubber has received word from a trusted source that Valentino Rossi has signed a two-year agreement with Ducati, that’s set to be announced on Monday…and boom goes the dynamite (sorry, we couldn’t resist). The Rossi/Ducati fantasy has been put forth for years, with the fervor on the subject reaching its pinnacle this season, as Ducati reportedly wafted a €15 million salary (almost double Yamaha’s offer) in front of the nine-time World Champion.

Likely less to do with money, and more about prestige and priority, the announcement comes on the heels of Casey Stoner’s exodus from the Ducati team, as the Australian has jumped ship back to HRC, in what is to be some sort of multinational threesome with energy drinks involved. Ok Italy, it’s almost time to change the sheets, this wet dream is nearly a reality. Stay tuned for Monday.

Despite saying that he would like to end his career with Yamaha, Rossi has increasingly been linked to Ducati lately because of tensions with Jorge Lorenzo. While Rossi was reportedly in favor of taking a salary reduction at Fiat-Yamaha (€14 million reduced to €9 million), the Italian did not like the notion that the use of funds would go to doubling Lorenzo’s pay check, which was just a million euros short of Rossi’s.

With Lorenzo rivaling Rossi not only on the track (the Yamaha Duo were virtually untouchable last season, and Lorenzo has run away with the 2010 Championship now with Rossi injured), but also for priority in the Fiat-Yamaha team box, we can presume egos collided. Assured the top-billing at Ducati, and with the added attention/sponsorship that an Italian rider on an Italian made motorcycle brings, Rossi seems set to end his career on a Ducati….which is sort of how it should be when you think about it.

The egg timer is now set as we wait for an announcement from Yamaha about Rossi’s replacement. Smart money is on Ben Spies…Wataru Yoshikawa being the long-shot on that bet.