In a pair of carefully-timed press releases, Ducati announced it will part ways with MotoGP star Valentino Rossi at the end of the season and Yamaha announced it has signed Rossi to a two-year contract.

The arrangement had been in the works for some time now and the two manufacturers had reportedly wanted to wait until Aug. 15 to make their announcements. But it’s very hard to stop the rumor mill from churning, especially when it involves the highest-profile Grand Prix motorcycle racer of this generation. After word leaked of Rossi’s impending return to Yamaha, the two manufacturers moved up the announcement date.

Rossi raced the last two seasons for Ducati‘s factory MotoGP team after a seven-year stint with Yamaha. His time with Ducati however was far less successful. In 27 races with Ducati, Rossi has finished on the podium just two times, finishing seventh in the 2011 season and currently sitting in eighth place in the championship.

By comparison, Rossi won four world championships and never finished lower than third overall in seven seasons with Yamaha. With eight races remaining in the season, Rossi has yet to win a race for Ducati. With Yamaha however, Rossi won 46 times and appeared on the podium 84 times in 101 races.

In its announcement, Ducati says the team will continue to give its best effort through the rest of the season. Ducati also emphasized the importance of racing to the brand, noting its new parent company Audi shares the same strategic approach and commitment to racing.

Ducati will now focus on finding a new rider to join the recently re-signed Nicky Hayden for the 2013 season.

Yamaha on the other hand will have Rossi take American Ben Spies‘ spot alongside current championship leader Jorge Lorenzo who is also signed for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The two riders had a successful partnership in their time together but their personal relationship was very rocky between the veteran star Rossi and the rising upstart Lorenzo. Right now however, Lorenzo is clearly entrenched as the top dog on the team so Rossi may have to adapt to being his second.

Rossi’s performance next season will be high scrutinized as the racing world tries to determine how much of the fault for the past two seasons’ disappointing results lie with him and how much with Ducati.

[Source: Ducati, Yamaha]