After months of speculation, Valentino Rossi has confirmed teaming up with his younger Italian compatriot Franco Morbidelli in the Malaysian-owned independent MotoGP team next year.
And partnering 41-year-old Rossi in the premier class is something Morbidelli, who is 16 years younger, had only dreamt about when he joined the VR46 Academy in 2014 .
The academy is an initiative created by Rossi to help fellow Italians on their path to MotoGP and Morbidelli gave the set-up their first world championship title three years later when he was crowned Moto2 champion.
Morbidelli has gone on to claim his first premier class podium and victory this year.
He earned the breakthrough Grand Prix win in San Marino last month and it will surely feel extra special to team up and race with someone who is considered one of the best riders of the modern era.
Morbidelli acknowledged Rossi’s great influence on his motorcycling career after his win at Misano.
“When I say that I need to thank all the people that have believed in me, for sure at the top there is ‘Vale’,” said Morbidelli.
“Thanking him is not enough. He has done so much for me and having the chance to race with him is a blessing. He’s definitely a legend and the best of all time.
“I now have the chance to fight with him and beat him – I want to show him that he made a good choice in believing in me. It’s a great feeling and I hope to have many more battles with him,” he added.