After several months of speculation, and an unofficial announcement at Estoril, Ducati Corse has finally officially announced that Casey Stoner has signed to ride for them in 2007. Few details of his contract were made public, other than Stoner will be riding the GP7 Desmosedici next year, with an option to ride in 2008.
Claudio Domenicali, Managing Director of Ducati Corse, is quoted as saying of Stoner: "With his enthusiasm and aggressive riding style, Casey is sure to give our fans some extraordinary emotions." So far this year, those emotions have been elation as Stoner runs at the front, followed by despair as he loses the front end and crashes out. What is certain is that Stoner should be very spectacular to watch on the Ducati, and his riding style should match Loris Capirossi's, who is the Ducati team's main rider.
This move now leaves Sete Gibernau without a ride in 2007, although he is reputedly in talks with Kawasaki. The irony of Stoner's signing will not be lost on Sete, who will be unable to race at Valencia as a result of injuries he suffered after crashing out when Casey Stoner fell in front of him, leaving him with nowhere to go but over and out.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
MotoGrandPrix.it has a blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to Stoner's signing over the weekend of the Portuguese Grand Prix. Some interesting details:
- Stoner will earn a base salary of 1.5 million Euros, with results-related bonuses;
- Ducati turned to Stoner on Saturday night after Sete Gibernau demanded 2 million Euros in salary during contract renewal negotiations;
- Ducati and Stoner basically agreed to terms on Sunday morning, prior to the race;
- After Stoner told Lucio Cecchinello that he had agreed terms with Ducati, the LCR team boss immediately went out and contracted Carlos Checa as Stoner's replacement;
- News of Checa's contract with LCR is what blew the whole Stoner / Ducati story into the public eye.