Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team have confirmed Maverick Vinales as Jorge Lorenzo's replacement for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The reigning world champion refused a contract offer with the Japanese team and will switch to the factory Ducati team at the end of the current campaign.
Vinales, currently at the Suzuki Ecstar team, will partner with nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, who agreed a new two-year deal before the start of the current season. The Spanish rider achieved his first MotoGP podium at the previous Grand Pix at Le Mans in France.
"Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd announce the signing of Maverick Viñales to ride for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team for 2017 and 2018," a statement on MotoGP's official site read.
The former Moto3 world champion and the 2015 MotoGP rookie of the year revealed that he made his decision following his podium achieving performance at the previous Grand Prix and will start this weekend's Italian GP with a Yamaha contract in hand.
"Honestly, after Le Mans it was quite clear the decision in my head. I also respect a lot Suzuki and I wanted to tell them quite fast," Vinales told Autosport.
"It's been so difficult to leave next year, from Suzuki, because they have always been so great for me and always treating me really good, treating me like an incredible rider. It's important that I saw this respect."
Suzuki, meanwhile, were quick to find a replacement and announced the signing of Andrea Iannone from Ducati after the Italian rider failed to agree a new deal following the arrival of Lorenzo. Andrea Dovizioso will partner the 2016 championship leader, while Iannone joins Aleix Espargaro at the Japanese manufacturer.
"We are happy to have enrolled Andrea in our Team for the next two years. He is one of the top riders in MotoGP™ and he is also very passionate and motivated; which fits into our racing philosophy. Our technical project is continuously improving since our debut in 2015 and we are working hard to make our GSX-RR very competitive so that it can fight consistently close to top and victory as soon as possible," Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio said, as quoted on MotoGP's official site.
"We wanted a rider that could help Suzuki continue its road to the top. Andrea is a fast rider who has the hunger for success and his riding style could suit our machine's characteristics, therefore giving us good hopes for a positive partnership," he added.