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Yamaha confirms Rossi to leave team

Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati is set to be announced imminently after Yamaha confirmed that its seven-season relationship with the Italian legend would come to an end after 2010

The prospect of Rossi leaving Yamaha for Ducati has been discussed in the MotoGP paddock for months, with this weekend's Brno event long tipped as the venue for the announcement of the world champion's future plans.

Yamaha has now issued a statement which did not mention that Ducati would be the reigning world champion's destination, but confirmed that the Rossi/Yamaha partnership was coming to an end.

"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," said the statement.

"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."

Rossi made a shock switch from Honda to the then-struggling Yamaha operation at the end of 2003, bringing most of his crew - including the renowned Jeremy Burgess - with him. Despite Yamaha's poor form prior to his arrival, Rossi stunned MotoGP by winning his first race with the outfit and going on to take that year's title. He would add the '05, '08 and '09 crowns too, and has so far won 45 grands prix for the squad.

Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis praised the huge contribution Rossi had made to the team during their time together.

"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," said Jarvis.

"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 fully 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."

Current Tech 3 Yamaha rider Ben Spies is expected to move up to the factory team to take Rossi's place alongside Jorge Lorenzo.

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