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Yamaha picks Vinales to replace Lorenzo as Rossi's MotoGP team-mate

Maverick Vinales will move from Suzuki to the factory Yamaha MotoGP team for 2017 and '18, as Valentino Rossi's team-mate

The Spaniard will replace three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who announced his move to Ducati with a two-year deal last month.

Vinales has been the leading contender for the seat since talk of Lorenzo's departure emerged, but the 21-year-old had been struggling with the choice between staying with Suzuki or moving to Yamaha.

Despite taking his first MotoGP podium at Le Mans, he has decided to leave Suzuki and join Yamaha, in a two-year deal.

Suzuki paid acknowledged Vinales' contribution to the development of its GSX-RR in a statement.

"All the Suzuki family is extremely grateful to Vinales for his contribution to the growth of the MotoGP project and the development of the GSX-RR, as well as for the great results they have achieved together," the statement read.

"Since the 2016 season is still under way, Team Suzuki Ecstar and Suzuki Motor Corporation will continue their unconditioned support to Maverick, looking forward to even better results in the remaining MotoGP races."

Vinales was regarded as a future star as he progressed through Moto3 - as 2013 champion - and then Moto2, and has cemented that status since entering MotoGP with the returning Suzuki last year.

He is currently fifth in the 2016 championship after five races.

Rossi confirmed he will stay in MotoGP for at least another two years during the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix in March.

Vinales' move created a vacancy at Suzuki, which was swiftly filled by Ducati refugee Andrea Iannone.

2017 MOTOGP GRID SO FAR
Yamaha: Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales
Honda: Marc Marquez (TBC), Dani Pedrosa
Ducati: Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso
Suzuki: Andrea Iannone, TBC
KTM: Bradley Smith, TBC
Aprilia: Sam Lowes, TBC
Tech3 Yamaha: Jonas Folger, TBC
LCR Honda: Cal Crutchlow

Yet to announce riders: Marc VDS, Pramac Ducati, Avintia Ducati, Aspar Ducati

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