Honda and Casey Stoner have formally confirmed the rumours that have been circulating around the MotoGP paddock in recent weeks releasing a statement that the two time premier class champion has been contracted to conduct four tests for HRC at Twin Ring Motegi.
The tests will mark the first time Stoner has ridden a MotoGP bike since the final round of 2012 in Valencia and fuel further speculation that the Aussie may make a dramatic comeback to the sport after leaving it in 2012. Stoner has spent most of this year overseas, in between fleeting appearances in the V8 Dunlop Development series.
Explaining his decision to take up the testing contract, Stoner said, “It’s been almost seven months now since Valencia and I’m still happy and comfortable with the decision I made to stop motorcycle racing, even if sometimes I miss riding my RCV. That’s why I am happy with HRC’s offer to do some tests in Motegi this year. This will allow me to enjoy what I miss: riding a MotoGP bike. I can’t wait to get on the RCV to see how it has changed from last year and I’d like to thank Honda for this opportunity.”
Fans hoping for a wildcard entry at this years Australian round of the MotoGP Championship will be disappointed. Repsol Honda Team Principal Livio Suppo has been quoted as saying, “There have been rumours of a wild card races for Casey but this is out of the question.”
There was strong speculation that Suppo and Stoner had a falling out during the Ducati years, but it has been Suppo who was instrumental in organising Stoner’s switch to Honda and may well be playing a key role in these latest developments.
Stoner will test both the 2013 RCV213V and the new Honda MotoGP production racer due to be made available for private teams next year.
Shuhei Nakamoto, Vice President at HRC, said, “We are very pleased to have Casey back in the team! He knows this machine very well and I’m sure he can help our engineers and technicians with the development of the RC213V. We will also ask him to test the new production racer and give us his initial feedback to assist us in producing the best machine possible.”
Nakamoto bid Stoner an emotional farewell at Valencia and was adamant that was the last time the Australian would be racing in MotoGP.
Now we are not so sure…this could be a prelude to a full scale comeback in 2014.