Casey Stoner may be back among the Italians after his contract expires as test rider with Honda at the end of this year. Rumors of the move began earlier in the summer and it has since been confirmed that talks have taken place. After the 2015 finale at Valencia the question of Stoner’s future was posted to both HRC and Ducati. In an interview with MotoGP.com, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti had this to say:
“I can only say the truth that Casey is a hero for most of the Ducati fans. He brought many many race wins and a fantastic world title in MotoGP, the only Ducati title in MotoGP in 2007. So obviously after that he showed he could be a winner also with Honda, he currently has a contract as we understand until the end of this year with Honda as a test rider. Obviously it would be an honor for us to work with Casey again and we approached him to know what his thoughts are for the future. We’ll see how it goes. As I said, for Ducati it would be great to be able to work with Casey again as a brand ambassador and a very special test rider.”
Prior to that, HRC Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto was asked for his response to Stoner’s talks with Ducati, where he said that with the contract coming to an end it wasn’t a surprise to see the Australian exploring other opportunities. “It’s normal,” he concluded.
Discussions surrounding why Stoner is considering the move include the fact that he was not chosen to ride in Dani Pedrosa’s stead when the Spaniard underwent arm pump surgery earlier in 2015. Also cited are the facts that that last test he conducted with Honda was d back in January 2015 at Sepang and that during his outing at Suzuka with Honda, a mechanical failure caused him to crash out of the event. With Ducati, the conversation goes, there may even be a chance at a wildcard entry or two in 2016. The German language publication Speedweek goes so far as to suppose that Stoner is looking toward 2017 and the end of Andrea Dovizioso’s current contract as a possible re-entry point into the MotoGP series.
Will it happen? It’s hard to say since up until now Stoner has been quite vocal about his desire to stay out of the big show. It would be great to see the Australian back to form and dicing it out with Marquez, Lorenzo, Rossi and Pedrosa. At this point, we aren’t getting our hopes up, but you never know…