It's official: Valentino Rossi won't be aboard a Yamaha M1 in 2011. Just moments ago, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. issued a release that stated what many knew was coming: Rossi is headed elsewhere for what will likely be the final years of his MotoGP career."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," Yamaha's managing director Lee Jarvis said in the release. " Valentino [Rossi] joined Yamaha in 2004 at a moment when Yamaha was struggling in road racing after 11 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. While we regret Vale's decision to move on, at the same time we fu lly 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!"A release that followed shortly thereafter quoted Rossi."It is very difficult to explain in just a few words what my relationship with Yamaha has been in these past seven years," Rossi said. ""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.'"The list of the people that made this transformation possible is very long, but I would like to thank anyway Masao Furusawa, Masahiko Nakajima and ‘my' Hiroya Atsumi, as representatives of all the engineers that worked hard to change the face of our M1. Then Jeremy Burgess and all my guys in the garage, who took care of her with love on all the tracks of the world and also all the men and women that have worked in the Yamaha team during these years."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!'"Though it has yet to be announced, Rossi will ride a Marlboro Ducati in 2011 with Texan Ben Spies taking his spot on the factory Yamaha team.

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By Cycle News Staff

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