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Injuries Force Alex Lowes And Michael Van Der Mark To Withdraw From Jerez WSBK Test

The final test of 2016 for the World Superbike class has already lost two of its participants. Both Ten Kate Honda's Michael van der Mark and Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes have been forced to withdraw from the test due to injury.

Lowes suffered a dislocated shoulder when he fell heavily at Turn 3 on Wednesday, crashing in the late afternoon. Though he walked away from that crash, and quickly had his dislocated shoulder put into place, a painful shoulder and restricted movement meant there was little sense in continuing. Lowes has returned to the UK for medical treatment, with the objective of being completely fit when testing resumes next year.

What happened to Michael van der Mark is a little more mysterious. The Honda Pro Racing organization posted a brief update on its Facebook page, adding little detail to Van der Mark's withdrawal. Van der Mark was suffering with pain in his right arm on Wednesday, which given his times on the day (Van der Mark was over a second slower than his new teammate Nicky Hayden) appear to have severely affected his speed. Van der Mark has now flown north seeking treatment, and will see a specialist in Antwerp, Belgium for further examinations.

Testing continues at Jerez for both the MotoGP and World Superbike classes today and tomorrow. Below is the press release issued by Yamaha on Alex Lowes' injury:

Early Exit for Lowes from Final Jerez Test

The Pata Yamaha World Superbike Team has withdrawn Alex Lowes from the final two days of winter testing at the Circuito de Jerez, in Spain, after yesterday's late afternoon high-side caused a dislocation to his left shoulder.

Early indications track-side concluded no serious damage after the dislocation was corrected by the swift actions of the circuit medical staff. However, with severely compromised movement and a speedy recovery his prime motivation, the British rider flew back to the UK this morning to seek specialist treatment.

Wednesday saw Lowes accomplish a full day of testing with his new WSBK-spec YZF-R1, completing 77 laps as he worked through a large raft of test items and electronic control strategies. The data collected will allow his technicians to continue to fine-tune his Yamaha machine in his absence, with a return to action scheduled for the New Year.

Teammate Sylvain Guintoli will continue to spearhead the Japanese marque's presence on track for the remaining two days at the Andalucían circuit, having already amassed 63 laps in the opening day.

Alex Lowes

"I'm disappointed not to be able to continue testing, as we have been doing a great job in understanding the YZF-R1 and developing my own riding style to suit it over the past few weeks. We were unlucky with the weather at Aragon so I was looking forward to a full three days of good conditions at Jerez to really get down to business. It wasn't to be, and my priority needs to be my fitness and rehabilitation after the crash yesterday, but we have been making some good progress so I'm pleased with the development so far. I felt really good on the bike yesterday and was able to be fast and consistent, I just made a small mistake - and perhaps got caught out by the drop in temperature at the end of the day - and it resulted in a pretty big crash!

The guys have done a great job this month and I know they will continue their hard work without me, now I just need to focus on getting back to 100% so we can be in the best possible position for the January tests and ready for Phillip Island."

Official: Casey Stoner Leaves Honda, Becomes Test Rider And Brand Ambassador For Ducati

Casey Stoner is to leave Honda and work with Ducati as a test rider and brand ambassador from 2016. Two press releases, one from Honda and one from Ducati, today confirmed the rumor which had emerged at Valencia during the race weekend, and especially after the test. Honda thanked Stoner for five years of collaboration, including two years of racing, during which he won fifteen races and a MotoGP championship. After his retirement, at the end of 2012, Stoner continued as a test rider for HRC, but rode only sporadically, no more than a couple of days a year.

This, it appears, seems to have been the trigger for Stoner to make the switch to Ducati as a test rider. The Australian had always retained good ties with the Italian factory, and the arrival of Gigi Dall'Igna as the head of Ducati Corse made a return to Ducati even more attractive. Stoner knows Dall'Igna well from his time racing an Aprilia in 125s and 250s, a period in which he finished as runner up in the 250 championship to Dani Pedrosa. As the only rider to have brought Ducati a MotoGP title, and after five long years since their last victory in the premier class - Stoner also being the last race winner on a Ducati - the Bologna factory have a lot of good reasons to sign the Australian. Stoner will no doubt also be well acquainted with the situation at Ducati through his good friend Chaz Davies, factory rider for Ducati's World Superbike team.

Though Stoner has made it clear he has no intention of returning to racing full time, he still enjoys riding MotoGP machines, and the chance to ride a Desmosedici more often than just two or three days a year will have been reason enough for him to leave. The Australian reportedly felt underutilized at HRC, due in part to the role of Marc Marquez as lead rider. According to German-language website Speedweek, Marquez felt threatened by Stoner's presence as a test rider, and criticized the input Stoner had given on the project. Marquez claimed he had to test everything Stoner had already tested, to check Stoner's feedback. HRC sources also let slip that Stoner had been over a second off the pace during his most recent test, at Sepang at the beginning of 2015, and so the combination of resistance from Marquez and slow times had made HRC reluctant to use the Australian. Stoner's lack of pace was also a factor in HRC not asking Stoner to replace Dani Pedrosa when the Spaniard was out with injury, something which Stoner had taken badly.

There are no such qualms at Ducati. Though the Desmosedici GP15 is a huge step forward over the previous bikes from the Bologna factory, the machine still has several weaknesses, mostly concentrated in the chassis. Andrea Iannone has been a revelation in 2015, maturing into a real threat for the podium every race, while Andrea Dovizioso is a solid and technically sound rider capable of giving very clear feedback. They still need help, though, to turn the GP16 from a contender into a winner, and this is precisely where Stoner should be able to help, especially alongside Michele Pirro, who has proven to be a talented and very quick test rider.

For the moment, it seems that Stoner will mainly concentrate on private tests, not riding in any of the official 2016 preseason tests at Sepang, Phillip Island or Qatar. However, as Stoner gets some miles under his belt, and particularly once he picks up some of the speed being away from racing tends to remove, the Australian could well make appearances at public tests, and possibly even as a wildcard at races. For 2016, the earliest Stoner could race would be the Mugello round on 22nd May, but a much more likely scenario would be Stoner racing at Phillip Island on 23rd October. That would also help boost attendance at the Phillip Island round, which has fallen by up to 20,000 since Stoner's retirement, the crowd on race day being just over 35,000.

One place where fans can be sure of seeing Casey Stoner on track is during next year's World Ducati Week at Misano, due to take place from 1st - 3rd July. 

Below are the two press releases from Ducati and Honda respectively:

Casey Stoner to return to Ducati as brand ambassador and test rider

Ducati Corse is delighted to announce that two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will return to the Italian manufacturer next year in the role of brand ambassador and test rider.

Casey Stoner won the 2007 MotoGP World Championship on the Ducati Desmosedici GP with ten wins in eighteen races, results that also helped the Italian manufacturer to clinch the Constructors’ title. Between 2007 and 2010, Casey won a total of 23 races for Ducati.

The 30-year-old Australian from Southport (Queensland), who is widely considered to be one of the fastest and most talented riders ever, will become brand ambassador for the Bologna-based manufacturer and, as part of the agreement, will appear at the 2016 edition of World Ducati Week, scheduled to run from July 1-3. He will also take part in a selected number of MotoGP tests for the Ducati Team next year.

Casey Stoner: “It’s been a great journey with HRC over the last five years, winning the World Championship in 2011 was obviously a high point and I've made many friends and formed lasting relationships along the way. For 2016 I am very excited to announce that I will again be joining the Ducati team! I have so many great memories working with the people and the brand of Ducati and the opportunity to work with them again is something very special. Gigi Dall'Igna has brought with him a new approach and I'm looking forward to assisting the team, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone however I can. The Ducati brand and the Ducati fans have been such a big part of my career and my life, so it will be really great to reunite the relationship and start another chapter with this iconic brand.”

Claudio Domenicali (CEO Ducati Motor Holding): “Stoner has always remained in the hearts of all the Ducatisti and I am really pleased that he has decided to come back to our family. Casey has an extraordinary talent and with his experience he will be able to make an important contribution for Gigi and the two Andreas in the development of the Desmosedici MotoGP bike. His presence at WDW 2016 will be a special gift for all the Ducati fans and enthusiasts, who will finally have the opportunity to catch up once again with this great champion who brought the 2007 world title to Borgo Panigale and who won numerous GP races with the Desmosedici GP.”

Honda bid a fond farewell to Casey Stoner

After a five year collaboration with Honda Racing Corporation, Casey Stoner will part ways with the Japanese manufacturer at the end of 2015.

Casey joined the factory squad – the Repsol Honda Team – in 2011 and adapted immediately to the RC212V bike winning ten races, and taking one 2nd place and five 3rd places. His victory in the Australian Grand Prix was his fifth in succession at his home race where he clinched the World Championship, Honda’s first since 2006.

Throughout his career with Honda, Casey has achieved a total of 15 victories (10 x 2011, 5 x 2012), 2 second positions (1 x 2011, 1 x 2012), 9 third positions (5 x 2011, 4 x 2012) in total 26 podiums. In addition to 17 pole positions (12 x 2011, 5 x 2012) and 9 fastest race laps (7 x 2011, 2 x 2012). He also celebrated a second place finish and one pole position aboard the satellite LCR Honda in 2006.

Honda Racing Corporation would like to thank Casey for all that he achieved during his time at Honda, and wish him and his family the very best for the future.

Shuhei Nakamoto
HRC Executive Vice President

"We have great memories of Casey’s time with Honda. From the moment he arrived in 2011 in the Repsol Honda Team we had a very close relationship and we always enjoyed speaking to him about racing and technical matters. Of course his Championship win in 2011 was a very special moment for us and a highlight of my career. Even after his racing days were over, I enjoyed attending his tests to take with him and spend time together. We would like to thank him for everything he gave to us over the past five years and send our best wishes to him and his family."

Aleix Espargaro Injures Back, Will Miss Private Sepang MotoGP Test

Aleix Espargaro has fractured a vertebra in a training accident. The factory Suzuki rider was out training on an off road bike, when he landed heavily from a jump, and felt pain in his back. He was taken to hospital, where an MRI scan revealed a flexion fracture of the vertebra, forcing him to miss the Sepang test planned for next week.

The injury suffered by Espargaro should not see him out of action for long. The Spaniard was discharged from hospital on Friday morning, and will now have to rest for a two to three week period to allow him to recover. No further complications were found when he was examined, and rest and physiotherapy should see him make a quick and full recover.

Espargaro's injury does mean that he will miss out on his first chance to try the new spec, or unified software to be used in MotoGP for 2016. At the Valencia test, both Espargaro and Viñales concentrated on learning to use the new Michelin tires, with their first run on the unified software scheduled for a private test at Sepang next week. Now, only Viñales will test it, along with Suzuki's test riders Takuya Tsuda and Nobu Aoki.

The press release from Suzuki appears below:


Team Suzuki Press Office – November 20.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargarò will not part in the Sepang test in Malaysia next week following a training accident yesterday, November 19th, near his home town of Granollers in Spain.

Espargarò was riding an off road bike and when landing from a jump suddenly reported pain in his back.

After his immediate transfer to the Hospital Universitari Quiron Deixeus in Barcelona, he underwent initial medical checks and was kept in overnight for observation.

This morning a further MRI reported a flexion fracture of the T9 vertebrae but excluded any further complications.

He was cleared to go home today and he will now take a two-to-three-week rest that should see him fully-recover.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Sepang test on November 23-24th will see only team-mate Maverick Viñales and Suzuki MotoGP test riders Takuya Tsuda and Nobuatsu Aoki on track testing the development of the new Michelin tyres and new unified software.

2016 World Superbikes Provisional Calendar Released: 14 Rounds, Monza Returns

The FIM today released the provisional 2016 calendar for the World Superbike championship. There is good news and bad news in the calendar, with Portimao disappearing from the calendar, but Monza making a welcome return. World Superbikes will also be returning to Germany, with the entire circus turning up to the Lausitzring, just north of Dresden. The best news is that there are no direct clashes with MotoGP, but WSBK will be running on the same date as F1 for nine rounds, though only the Donington and Monza rounds happen in the same timezone. Given the different time schedules for F1 and WSBK, bike racing fans should not have to miss any of the action.

The Lausitzring was not the only option considered when WSBK looked at returning to Germany. The series was also in talks with the Sachsenring, as the MotoGP round is immensely popular there. In the end, Lausitz was chosen, WSBK having raced there previously from 2005 to 2007.

The calendar still has a couple of question marks over it. The Jerez round is still marked as subject to contract, its future still remaining uncertain. Attendance was very poor at both Jerez and Portimao, and organizers may have felt that having two rounds in relatively close proximity was reducing attendance for both. The loss of Portimao will be mourned, as it is a spectacular track in a stunning setting close to the Algarve coast, a popular vacation destination. However, the circuit could never tempt the tourists away from the beach and out to the track.

The Monza round is also still marked as being subject to homologation. The circuit is currently studying proposals to make the track safer and especially alter the first chicane without detracting from the character of the track. 

The calendar also reveals an imminent change to the format of the racing. Each of the events is marked as being spread over two days. What this means is that WSBK will now run their races on Saturday and Sunday, with WSBK race one on Saturday, and race two on Sunday. That is a format which had been used by the AMA and DMG, and which WSBK will hope will draw more fans in on the Saturday.

The biggest concern is that once again, the series has a very long summer break. The action stops after Monza on 24th July for nearly eight weeks, the WSBK riders taking to the track again at the Lausitzring on the 17th and 18th September.

Below is the official calendar released by the FIM:

MOTUL FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000 cc Cup

2016 provisional calendar, 19 November

27-28 February Australia Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit X X  
12-13 March Thailand Chang International Circuit X X  
2-3 April Spain MotorLand Aragón X X X
16-17 April Netherlands TT Circuit Assen X X X
30-1 May Italy Autodromo Int. Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola X X X
14 -15 May Malaysia Sepang International Circuit X X  
28-29 May United Kingdom Donington Park X X X
18-19 June Italy Misano World Circuit ‘Marco Simoncelli’ X X X
9-10 July USA Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca X    
23-24 July Italy * Autodromo Nazionale di Monza X X X
17-18 September Germany Lausitzring X X X
1-2 October France Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours X X X
15-16 October Spain ** Circuito de Jerez X X X
29-30 October Qatar Losail International Circuit X X  

*(STH) Subject to homologation
**(STC) Subject to contract

(N.B Autodromo Vallelunga Circuit will act as a ́reserve ́)

Circuit Of Wales Clears Final Planning Hurdle

The proposed Circuit of Wales has cleared the final planning hurdle left standing between it and the start of construction. After an eight-day public inquiry, the decision was taken to approve the deregistering of common land needed for construction of the site. That clears the way for construction work to start once financing is in place.

The request to deregister common land was approved on the basis of extra land - 320 hectares, or some 800 acres - being provided to replace the deregistered land. The Planning Inspector charged with examining the proposal judged that the overall effect of the land swap would benefit the nature conservation efforts in the area. 

With approval now in place, the Circuit of Wales now waits for financing to be completed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company, which will run and operate the site, say they have full financing in place of £200 million, with a large amount coming from Asia, according to BBC Wales. Though the financing has been agreed, the financial backers are still in the due diligence phase, in which investors check that the mathematics used to calculate the viability of the circuit is actually valid, and the promised return on investment will materialize.

Construction of the circuit is set to commence either late this year or at the beginning of next year, according to the Bikesocial website. The work is to be carried out by the Spanish construction firm FCC, who were also responsible for a lot of upgrade work at the Jerez circuit in the past.

The press release from the Circuit of Wales appears below:


  • Deputy Minister for Farming and Food approves S16 application
  • Private finance exclusivity contracts in place
  • Former Bahrain International Circuit CEO appointed new Circuit of Wales CEO

17 November 2015

Today, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOTVDC) confirmed that the S16 application has been accepted clearing the final planning hurdle for the Circuit of Wales development.

After an extensive and robust eight-day Public Inquiry, sitting in March 2015, approval by the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans AM has permitted land previously designated as ‘common’ to be deregistered into private ownership. Throughout the Public Inquiry, Circuit of Wales presented detailed plans for substantial on and offsite mitigation highlighting the suitability of replacement land, which will lead to improved maintenance and ease of access.

Importantly, Planning Inspector Emyr Jones BSc (Hons) CEng NICE MCMI agreed stating in his report: "The likely out-turn of deregistration would be an overall enhancement of nature conservation interests[...]resulting in an overall nature conservation benefit as a result of the proposal as a whole."

Deputy Minister for Farming and Food Rebecca Evans commented: “For the reasons articulated in the report – both by the Inspector but also by other parties, I believe the socio-economic benefits that will result from the deregistration of the common land will be of significant public benefit to both the immediate area and beyond.”

With the approval of the S16 application, HOTVDC can reveal that the required financing package is in place to support the project for the full amount and have an exclusivity contract in place with the financial backers who are in the process of completing due diligence. Once these have been completed, the supporters of the project will be publicly announced and detailed construction timelines revealed.

Michael Carrick, CEO of HOTVDC commented: “We would like to thank local councils, Welsh Assembly Members and the local community who have supported the project throughout the planning process up to this point. The Circuit of Wales has the ability to generate thousands of employment opportunities, attract greater long-term investment and deliver regeneration into Blaenau Gwent and South Wales."

Following the end of the judicial review period, and once construction and finance contracts have been finalised, on-site activity will commence.

Additionally, HOTVDC are pleased to announce the appointment of Martin Whitaker as Circuit of Wales CEO who will be charged with managing the transformation of 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent into an international motorsport circuit, technology park and training facility, utilising his extensive experience of working both on and off track. This appointment will allow Michael Carrick to focus his attentions on his role as CEO of the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, specifically managing the financial aspects of the project whilst remaining an active board member for the Circuit of Wales.

Michael Carrick, CEO of HOTVDC commented: “Martin’s track record speaks for itself as he is one of the few men operating at the top level of international motorsport whose experience covers almost every facet of the sport. Martin has managed a modern Formula 1Ò venue at the Bahrain International Circuit, worked for both the sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Autombile (FIA), and its commercial rights holder, plus the UK’s governing body - the RAC Motor Sports Association. Additionally, he has led a major motor manufacturer’s competition department and one of the world’s most celebrated racing series.

“The Circuit of Wales is already gaining experience and knowledge through our role as promoter of the British MotoGPTM. As we now focus our attentions on the build phase of the project, Martin’s guidance and experience will be invaluable to realising its potential as a catalyst for investment in the local economy and across the motorsport industry in Britain.”

After leaving the UK for the Kingdom of Bahrain, Martin was tasked with shaping every aspect of the Bahrain International Circuit as CEO helping to deliver the inaugural Formula 1 race in the Middle East in 2004. In subsequent years the circuit quickly became the ‘Home of motorsport in the Middle East’, attracting an array of international motorsport series, and developed into the leading corporate, cultural and community facility in a region without a long association with the sport.

Martin Whitaker, Circuit of Wales CEO, commented: “It is with enormous excitement that I look forward to working with Michael and the team at the Circuit of Wales to deliver this unique project for the British motorsport industry, the automobile industry and the people of Blaenau Gwent.

“I am passionate about the economic and social benefits that a venue such as the Circuit of Wales will bring, and firmly believe that the time is ripe for this development not only as an amazing entertainment and leisure centre, but also as an invaluable resource for the entire British motorsport and automotive

Aragon WSBK Test: Better Weather Sees Times Improve

Jonathan Rea leaves the Motorland Aragon circuit as the fastest man from the two-day World Superbike test at the circuit. Rea spent the day working on the engine management and electronics. The 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10R has shown itself to be a powerful machine, but the acceleration is not as easy to manage as the 2015 bike. Rea's Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes also lapped Aragon on Tuesday, after choosing to sit out the first day of the two-day test due to the weather conditions.

Chaz Davies was reported as being second fastest, though no official timing was available. According to the German-language website Speedweek, the Ducati rider posted a lap of 1'51.0, 0.7 slower than the time set by Rea. Davies tested electronics strategies, as well suspension components, in search of more precise steering. Javi Fores took the second Ducati out, standing in for the still injured Davide Giugliano.

Alex Lowes was the faster of the two Pata Yamaha bikes, 1.4 seconds quicker than his new teammate Sylvain Guintoli. The Pata Yamaha pair are still working mainly on getting used to the YZF-R1, running a bike basically in BSB spec, development a priority for later. 

The biggest improvement of the day came from Nicky Hayden, who dropped his time by 1.5 seconds from the first day of the test, ending just a tenth behind his teammate Michael van der Mark. The American once again worked his seating position and position on the bike, and learning his way around the team and getting to know his new crew chief, Gerardo Acocella.

The World Superbike teams now pack up and head south again, to Jerez, where they will test at the end of next week. 


Aragon WSBK Test: Fog Gets Nicky Hayden's World Superbike Debut Off To A Late Start

Nicky Hayden turned his first official laps as a World Superbike rider on Monday, putting the Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR through its paces for the first time. The test did not get off to a particularly auspicious start, the day delayed by a wet track and thick fog, which took a long time to clear. Nevertheless, Hayden took his first laps shortly before one, to try to get a feel for the bike. The first exit was on wet tires, the track still damp, and there was no serious action on the circuit until late in the afternoon, when the sun finally broke through the clouds.

Though no times were released, German-language website Speedweek reports that Hayden's best lap was a 1'53.3, 1.8 seconds off the fastest time of reigning world champion Jonathan Rea, who set a 1'51.5. Hayden spent a lot of time working on his position on the bike and the position of footpegs and seat. He also spent a lot of time with the electronics, trying to set them up to get a better connection between throttle and engine. You can read more of his comments on the Bikesportnews website.

Though all eyes were on Nicky Hayden, there were quite a few other teams at the track. The Kawasaki Racing team continued their work of preparing the new ZX-10R, with Jonathan Rea working on seating position and adapting to the new engine and chassis. Tom Sykes did not ride, waiting for better conditions expected tomorrow.

Yamaha were also present, Alex Lowes and Sylvain Guintoli continuing the work of preparing Yamaha's brand new YZF-R1 for its debut in the World Superbike class. The team had no new parts to test, but with a new bike to prepare, they had plenty of work to continue with after their test at Jerez. Chaz Davies was present for Ducati, concentrating on the engine of the Ducati Panigale 1199R. His teammate Davide Giugliano is not present at the test, as he is still recovering from the back injury he suffered earlier this year. Giugliano is now back riding motorcycles, however, and could make his return to testing at Jerez in ten days' time.

There were also a few World Supersport entries present. Most notable was PJ Jacobsen, working with the CORE Honda project ready for 2016. Testing continues on Tuesday, with better weather expected, and hopefully, a full day's testing for the teams.

Scott Jones Shoots The Grand Finale: Race Day Photos From Valencia

It's never been this busy at the back of the grid

Alex Rins, treading in the footsteps of Maverick Viñales in every way

Cal Crutchlow gets a push to his grid position

Miguel Oliveira had to win at Valencia, and he did just that. A glittering end to a glittering second half of the season

Danny Kent, meanwhile, suffered through some hard moments ensuring he finished in the top 14, including a battle with teammate Hiroki Ono

Tito Rabat came back with a bang, and a victory, at Valencia

The pressure at Valencia was indescribable

38 years of hurt...

Lorenzo leads, but Rossi is on a charge, already past nearly half the field

After he got past Smith, he was off to chase Petrucci

The Italian was the only rider to make way easily, though it cost him his position to Smith

Unstoppable. Rossi was up to fifth by lap 12, and past Dovizioso a lap later

The battle at the front: Marquez stalks, Lorenzo hammers

After losing ground, Pedrosa caught the leading pair in the latter stages

Close racing? It was for fifth

The race of his life was not enough for Rossi

As celebrations go, Lorenzo's for his fifth title was quite clever

If you'd like to have desktop-sized versions of Scott's fantastic photos, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. If you'd like a print of one of the shots you see on the site, then send Scott an email and he'll be happy to help.

Casey Stoner To Return To Ducati In Testing Role, Wildcards A Possibility

Casey Stoner is set to make some form of return to MotoGP. The Australian is to switch back from Honda to Ducati, taking on a role as test rider for the Italian firm. There is a chance that Stoner could also be given one or more wildcard rides on Ducati's MotoGP bike.

The news comes after a series of rumors and stories, starting with the German language website Speedweek, and culminating with unofficial confirmation from Israeli TV MotoGP commentator Tammy Gorali. Ducati's Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti spoke officially to journalists at Valencia, but refused to confirm the deal. "Casey is a hero of Ducati fans, he won so many races and was a world champion for Ducati in 2007," Ciabatti said. "We will see what the future brings but we know that his contract with Honda will expire at the end of this year and obviously if there's a chance to do something together we would love to do it."

Various paddock sources confirmed the deal to Tammy Gorali, including sources close to both sides of the deal. The agreement appears to have come about after a number of issues Stoner had as a test rider for Honda. The main issue for the Australian was the fact that HRC appeared to ignore the feedback he had given on the Honda RC213V MotoGP bike, especially the aggressiveness of the engine. When Honda then called Hiroshi Aoyama to stand in for Dani Pedrosa during his absence, passing over Casey Stoner, despite the fact that he had offered his services when Pedrosa withdrew to recover from arm pump surgery.

Stoner has a contract with HRC which lasts until the end of the year, so an official announcement will have to wait until 1st January. We will then get to hear about Ducati's full plans with Stoner, including any plans for wildcard rides he may be offered.

2016 MotoGP Provisional Rider Line Up