MotoGP UPDATE: Ducati confirmed Rossi will join the team

Aug 16th

Valentino Rossi, the great Italian motorcycle rider, confirmed recent rumors that he will be joining Ducati MotoGP in 2011.

Rossi is the reigning MotoGP champion. But he has been facing strong competition from within his Yamaha team. Jorge Lorenzo, a young Spaniard, is leading the series and appears to be the face of Yamaha’s future. For the last couple of years, the team has been unable to conceal the two riders’ dislike of each other.

Rumors about a Rossi move to Ducati have swirled around the MotoGP paddock for months. But they grew stronger when Ducati rider Casey Stoner announced in July a move from the Italian outfit to the Repsol Honda team. It was all but certain that an announcement from Rossi about a jump to Ducati would come soon after. The terms of the deal were not revealed, though it is believed to be around $19 million a year.

Aug 5th

The Yamaha racer is widely expected to join the Italian team next season following Casey Stoner’s exit.

“Recent news which has appeared on websites has been misreported and must be attributed to the many rumours circulating lately,” said a statement.

“Whether and when a deal is reached an official press release will be issued.”

Present world champion Stoner recently announced he was leaving Ducati at the end of the season to  link up with Honda, which would create the vacancy for the Italian rider and Italian manufacturer to unite.

Valentino has just returned to action following a broken leg which looks to have ended any practical chance he had of retaining his world title this year, as he now lies fifth in the standings.

His Fiat Yamaha Team Mate Jorge Lorenzo is the leader, 72 points clear of nearest match Dani Pedrosa.

Earlier this week, Ducati chief executive and president Gabriele Del Torchio had been quoted as saying Rossi would be paired with American Nicky Hayden in the company’s 2011 MotoGP team, but they have now backtracked.

“Regarding the recent allegations attributed to Mr del Torchio, Ducati states that no agreement has been reached with the riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden for the future Moto GP season, although our interest in these riders remains,” said the Ducati statement.

Despite Ducati’s reserve, Rossi is widely expected to announce the end of his seven-year association with Fiat Yamaha during the next round of the MotoGP championship, at Brno in the Czech Republic on 14-15 August.

Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis recently stated he wanted his rider line-up for next year finalised before the Brno race weekend, with World Superbikes champion Ben Spies tipped to be named as Lorenzo’s new team-mate.

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