Three-time MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo will leave Yamaha at the end of the 2016 season to join Italian manufacturer Ducati.
Lorenzo has spent his entire MotoGP career with Yamaha, joining the team back in 2008 before going on to claim his first world title two years later.
Lorenzo followed this success up with further championships in 2012 and 2015, the latter coming at the expense of teammate Valentino Rossi.
Rossi signed a new two-year deal with Yamaha last month, and said that he doubted Lorenzo would have the guts to leave the Japanese marque and join Ducati as he did back in 2011.
However, it was announced on Monday that Lorenzo would indeed be leaving Yamaha at the end of the 2016 season, signing a two year deal with Ducati.
“Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. announces that its partnership with Jorge Lorenzo will be discontinued at the close of the 2016 MotoGP season, when Lorenzo will move on to new racing challenges,” a statement read.
“Since Lorenzo joined the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in 2008, Lorenzo and Yamaha won three MotoGP World Championships (2010, 2012 and 2015), clinched 41 race wins and have been on the podium 99 times out of 141 races contested.
“Yamaha is extremely grateful for Jorge’s contributions to its racing successes and looks forward to sharing more memorable moments during the remaining 15 MotoGP rounds of 2016, their ninth season together.
“Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. wishes Lorenzo the very best in his future racing endeavours and reconfirms the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team’s full support on his campaign to achieve his fourth MotoGP title.
“Having already reconfirmed Valentino Rossi for 2017-18, Yamaha will announce the future Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team riders’ line-up in due course after securing the services of the second rider.”
Ducati followed this up with a statement of its own confirming Lorenzo’s arrival on a two-year deal.
“Ducati announces that it has reached an agreement with Jorge Lorenzo thanks to which the Spanish rider will take part in the MotoGP world championship in 2017 and 2018 aboard the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Ducati team,” it read.
Lorenzo’s ride with Yamaha is widely expected to be taken by Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales, who made a big impression during his rookie MotoGP campaign last year.
Lorenzo’s arrival at Ducati also means either Andrea Iannone or Andrea Dovizioso will be left without a ride for 2017.