Forced to respond to the growing rumor mill, Yamaha and Ducati sent out official statements this morning confirming that Valentino Rossi will not be renewing his contract with Ducati next year, and has instead signed a two-year deal to return to the Yamaha Factory Racing team alongside Jorge Lorenzo once again. The return of Rossi to Yamaha not only marks the end of a turbulent and disappointing two-year experiment with Ducati, it also sees the Italian coming back to the team where he won four World Championships, winning (ironically, his favored number) 46 MotoGP races during his seven-year tenure with the brand.
Rossi obviously wasn’t confident that Ducati was going to get him the bike he needed to be competitive in 2013, despite meetings with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio at Laguna and the Audi brass at the Sachsenring. His departure to Yamaha leaves a big hole to fill for Ducati, as the sensational signing of Rossi in 2011 created (at first) a PR bonanza for the company in creating the Italian “dream team”. With a rider of Rossi’s stature (plus his legendary crew chief Jeremy Burgess) failing to get the GP12 competitive, the name riders left with a chance at the seat (namely Andrea Dovisioso and Cal Crutchlow) will surely be looking at that opportunity for a factory ride with jaundiced eyes. It’s reported that Rossi took a huge pay cut to make the move back to Yamaha, showing that getting back to being competitive for wins was more important than money or reputation for Rossi.
The following is Ducati’s official statement:
As the MotoGP series awaits its return to action for the August 19 Indianapolis Grand Prix, Ducati announces that its working relationship with Valentino Rossi will conclude at the end of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship.
Ducati wishes the Italian well for the new challenges that await him, and in the meantime, the team will continue to give its best effort in order to improve over the latter part of the season.
Racing has always been in Ducati’s DNA, and now more than ever, it is integral to the Borgo Panigale company’s product development and image. AUDI shares Ducati’s strategic approach and agrees with its growing commitment to competition.
Therefore, having recently renewed its agreement with American Nicky Hayden, Ducati is in the process of finalizing the team that will take part in the 2013 World Championship, confident that its team and bike will be capable of competing at the highest level.
The following is Yamaha’s official statement:
It is with great pleasure that Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd confirms the signing of Valentino Rossi to ride for the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team for 2013 and 2014.
Valentino Rossi first joined Yamaha in 2004 and achieved four MotoGP World Champion titles with the Yamaha YZR-M1 in 2004 and 2005 and again in 2008 and 2009. He won 46 Grand Prix races with Yamaha over a 7 year period before leaving at the end of the 2010 MotoGP season.
Rossi, who is presently 8th in the Championship standings, will partner Jorge Lorenzo who currently leads the 2012 MotoGP World Championship by 23 points, having taken five victories from the first ten completed races of the 18 race series.
Lin Jarvis - Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing
“This announcement is once again excellent news for Yamaha. In June we were able to sign Jorge Lorenzo for the 2013-14 campaign and now we are able to confirm Valentino Rossi for the next two years. In doing so we have been able to put together the strongest possible team to challenge for victories and to promote the Yamaha brand.
We have run this ‘super team’ together in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and during that time we achieved the ‘triple crown’ titles with Rider, Manufacturer and Team World Championship victories for three consecutive years.
The target for the future is obvious and we will do our utmost to achieve our goals.
I have no doubt that with the experience, knowledge, skills and speed of these two great champion riders we will be able to challenge for many race wins and for the 2013 and 2014 World Championship titles.
The signing of Valentino completes our future planning for the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team. Now that this is done we will put our 100% efforts into completing the job at hand and to supporting Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo in their search for race victories and for Jorge’s 2012 World Championship title challenge.”