The rumours have been circulating for quite some time, but it’s now confirmed that the seven-time MotoGP champ has left Yamaha to join Ducati, signing a two-year deal with the Italian team. Rossi has been with Yamaha for seven years, a successful period that saw him win four world championships and 45 grands prix. At Ducati, he will replace Casey Stoner who will go to Honda next year. Ducati’s other rider is American Nicky Hayden.

Rumours of Rossi leaving was first heard last autumn, when The Doctor sounded that Yamaha must ultimately choose between him or young hotshot teammate Jorge Lorenzo, as he did not believe in two equal number one riders. He hinted that Ducati will be the destination should he quit Yamaha. Here’s the romantic Italian bidding a sad farewell to his Japanese lover:

“It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years. Many things have changed since that far-off time in 2004, but especially ‘she’, my M1, has changed. At that time she was a poor middle-grid position MotoGP bike, derided by most of the riders and the MotoGP workers. Now, after having helped her to grow and improve, you can see her smiling in her garage, courted and admired, treated as the ‘top of the class’.

“Now the moment has come to look for new challenges; my work here at Yamaha is finished. Unfortunately even the most beautiful love stories finish, but they leave a lot of wonderful memories, like when my M1 and I kissed for the first time on the grass at Welkom, when she looked straight in my eyes and told me ‘I love you!'”