Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi is to race for the Ducati team for the next two seasons, the Italian team confirmed on Sunday.

“We are particularly pleased to announce that as from 2011 Valentino Rossi will be with us,” said Gabriele Del Torchio, head of the Ducati Motor Holding, in an official statement.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation about the imminent end of the 31-year-old’s relationship with Yamaha, which he joined in 2004 and led to four MotoGP titles.

According to Italian media reports, Rossi and Ducati have agreed on a two-year contract worth 13 million euros (16.7 million dollars) per year.

Earlier Sunday, Yamaha confirmed that Rossi and the team would be parting company at the end of the current season.

“Valentino has played a huge part in the history of Yamaha and he will always remain an important part of Yamaha’s heritage,” the team said in a statement.

“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.”

In a hand-written note written shortly after finishing fifth in Sunday’s race in Brno in the Czech Republic, Rossi thanked his former team, saying: “It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years.

“Unfortunately even the most beautiful love stories finish,” he wrote.

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