The Rossi to Ducati rumors have circulated for months, hitting its peak with a quotation from Gabriele Del Torchio, president of Ducati Motor Holding, confirming the signing in an interview with Cycle World. Ducati immediately issued a denial, calling the Cycle World article “misreported”, but there is no longer any need for pretense as the Italian manufacturer announced it has signed Rossi to a two-year contract.
“We are delighted to announce that Valentino Rossi will be with us from 2011,” says Del Torchio, this time in an official Ducati announcement. “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.”
Ducati’s announcement followed a statement from Yamaha expressing the company’s gratitude for Rossi who won four MotoGP World Championships in seven seasons riding a YZF-M1.
“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,” says Lin Jarvis, managing director of Yamaha Motor Racing. “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.”
Though Rossi is leaving the team, Jarvis says the Yamaha will continue to support him for the remaining eight races of the season, hoping to win at least one more race together.
Yamaha also released a statement from Rossi, reading as follows:
“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!’”