Andrea Dovizioso will replace the legendary Valentino Rossi at Ducati in 2013
Seven-time champion Rossi will rejoin Yamaha at the end of this season
Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden will miss the Czech Grand Prix with a hand injury
Reigning world champion Casey Stoner out of the race with a fractured ankle
The task of replacing seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi at Ducati has been handed to his fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso.
Legendary rider Rossi will return to former team Yamaha Factory Racing on a two-year deal at the start of the 2013 season, a move which will see him reunited with fellow title winner and rival Jorge Lorenzo.
Dovizioso, currently riding for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 satellite outfit, is fourth in the standings after 11 rounds of the 2012 season, 46 points ahead of Rossi.
The 26-year-old will spend his sixth season in the elite division of motorbike racing at the Italian team, alongside American 2006 champion Nicky Hayden.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Andrea, as we marshal our best efforts in confronting the MotoGP World Championship,” Ducati president Gabriele Del Torchio said of the 26-year-old on MotoGP’s official website.
“Along with Nicky Hayden, with whom we have renewed a working agreement, we are confident that we will be able to proceed with our development program, to compete, and to obtain the results and rewards that will repay our efforts and the faith that our partners, sponsors and fans have never failed to demonstrate.”
Dovizioso finished the 2011 championship in third position and will hope for better results at Ducati than Rossi achieved – the 33-year-old has recorded just two podium finishes in 28 races.
Ducati will be without Hayden for this weekend’s Czech Grand Prix after he picked up a hand injury during a qualifying crash at the last race in Indianapolis, meaning Rossi will be the team’s sole rider at Brno.
Reigning world champion Casey Stoner, third in the 2012 riders’ standings, will not race this weekend after a crash in the U.S. left the Australian with a fractured bone in his right ankle and torn ligaments.
Despite picking up the injuries in qualifying ahead of the race, Stoner was still able to compete in the grand prix and register a fourth-place finish.
Stoner will now fly from the Czech Republic to his homeland after doctors recommended he undergo surgery.
“It was always feeling like it was going to be this decision anyway,” explained Stoner, who will retire at the end of the season. “I was recommended by everyone not to race on Sunday in Indianapolis, so I didn’t expect the situation to be better here.
“It’s definitely disappointing; it’s not what we wanted, especially in my last season … In the later part of the season you never know what could have happened, but we’ll keep pushing.
“I don’t regret it [racing at Indianapolis]. I’ve never really followed people’s orders with things like that in the past. But now, if another accident was to happen it would be huge damage. It’s just frustrating to thing what we could have done without this injury.”