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."

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Comments

Ref : "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."

22nd May happens to be exactly 6 months from today, I'm just curious if that date was used because there was some sort of a wildcard rule or if it's an arbitrary amount of time that Stoner would (presumably) require to get back up to speed?

Total votes: 113

Only 1 second off the pace of Marquez and he barely rode the bike? I would say that's not bad. How far off the pace was Aoyama? Let hope he gets more time on the Ducati and shows us something in a wildcard ride. Who wouldn't love to see him swapping paint with Marquez as they lay black lines all over that beautiful track. Count me in on going to Phillip Island if he turns up. Gonna be a blast folks!!

Total votes: 182

David's post didn't say only 1 second off the pace, it said "over 1 second off the pace". It doesn't sound like much but it's a big deal at that level. One thing that strikes me though, is Stoner left Ducati not on what I'd call great terms. Now he's leaving Honda in a similar fashion it seems. Maybe the presense of Gigi makes him think it'll be different this time. As far as Stoner doing some wildcards.....I hope he does it, the more champions on the grid the better, although I think he'll find the level of competition much higher than when he left. In any case good luck to him.

Total votes: 129

Indeed he said over a second, but we should recall that this would probably be on a dirty track, not cleaned up by moto3 and moto2. So I would say over 1 sec on a dirty track could mean a lot, although it's hard to quantify of course. I think it's clear he would have been faster than Aoyama, for what it's worth. But I also hope, like you, that Gigi has made such a big difference that they will truly open up to Stoner's input. They can only gain from his knowledge.

Total votes: 129

If the bike suits him I can envision a Mike Hailwood like return to racing (also done on a Ducati).
That would be fun to watch.

Total votes: 127

Being over a second off the pace while only riding the bike a couple of times a year seems to be pretty good to me. My guess is that it was faster than any other Honda test rider. Marquez feeling threatened speaks volumns. I bet that was the real reason Casey wasn't offered the chance to fill in for Dani. I would love to see him come back and win Phillip Island again. Tall order for a part time rider, but then again, this is Casey Stoner!

Total votes: 153

Don't forget that Bayliss ride in Valencia in 2006. Although he was still riding in Superbike it was still some achievement to show up on a bike he had not competed on all year AND win!

Total votes: 104

a very good point...

not to undermine Bayliss and with all the respect for Bayliss, but Bayliss is not in the level of Stoner at least in GP racing, so how much more Stoner would achieve...

Total votes: 113

but that was a tire win. the ducati's were 1 and 2 and the only team on bridgestones. 3rd place was a steady hayden who most likely decided rightfully that there was no incentive to push hard when 3rd place would win the championship (not to say that he could have caught the ducati's, but who knows?).

Total votes: 113

Barely given a chance to ride and then his feedback is thrown out anyway.

And over a second off pace??? Bid deal. And if "pace" was their real reason for not wanting him to wildcard, how the hell can they justify Aoyama's pace?!?! Not exactly blistering to say the least.

Total votes: 134

For Ducati. Stoner told Honda their engine was too aggressive and they didn't listen. Might have cost them the title. Stoner told everyone the new softer carcass front Bridgestone would become troublesome in 2012. Again, he was proven correct. Stoner was the only guy able to set up the Ducati so that it was halfway competitive, and if Ducati had responded more to his development feedback who knows what they may have achieved. Casey has amazing feel for what a motorcycle needs in order to go faster, and he is precisely what Ducati need at this juncture. Honda have made a monumental mistake in not only underutilising but actually losing the services of the best tester in history, and have allowed a direct competitor to steal his services! This may well haunt Honda in coming years.

Total votes: 124

Some enticing possibility to nibble on while we wait:

1. Casey WC's at Austin. Honda discredited his ability to adapt to a new track. Said he was too far off pace in testing to be in race shape.

Casey 1, Honda 0.

2. Casey WC's at Phillip Island. How does Casey not win this race? This track is about as personal to him as his little daughter.

Casey 2, Honda 0.

3. Casey makes a run at the WC for 2017, having gotten a full taste of Michelins, spec electronics, Gabarrini will be out from Jack's camp. I think 2015 has soured Casey's judgement of both MM and VR. MM for being blocked from testing, and VR for his "resurgence" that led to that awful moment in Sepang, that CS was very adament about. VR is always hinting to the media that Casey has been gone to long. Doubt that sits well.

Here's to happy thoughts.

Total votes: 121

Well, the 'can't learn new tracks' is a pretty lame excuse, for sure.

First year of Aragon (2010) as I recall, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Hayden and some others all went there prior to the race to learn the track.

Stoner did not, said it wasn't necessary. Cue mutters of arrogance ( pun there..)

Result: Stoner had the first win for Ducati in 2010, by over 5 seconds from Pedrosa. As I recall, the 2010 Ducati was the least successful of Stoner's factory mounts, and in fact spat him off the same number of times in races (5) as he had in his first year of motoGp. Hayden came 3rd, over 9 seconds down on Stoner. Lorenzo was fourth, around 9.5 seconds slower (and as I recall, Lorenzo won the WC that year?)

Shame that Stoner cannot learn new circuits quickly...

Of course, maybe that was just lucky, but Stoner won again the next year on the Honda, by over 8 seconds from Pedrosa, and (cough, cough) 34 seconds from Hayden on the Ducati or 39 seconds from Rossi on the other factory Ducati.

Total votes: 96

for Casey & guys like me that just enjoyed watching this guy ride a gp bike. Ducati brand Ambasador, very cool indeed. Plus he will be doing a heck of a lot more laps.

Total votes: 125

I wish him luck but the last time he rode Michelins he wasn't happy about them, just have to wait and see.

Total votes: 114

Now it's Michelin control tire: same tires for everyone.

At that time (2006) official riders got TOD (tires on demand) while satellite riders got tires to test and if they got "too fast"...well they were likely not be allowed to race those same tires (btw last satellite rider MotoGP win was Elias Estoril 2006 on tires discarded by Pedrosa).

We don't know how fast CS will be during testing next season, but we do know that he will have access to exactly the same tires as everyone else.

Total votes: 134

In some ways going back to the Michelin will be a step back in time. I hear the essential character of the Michelins has not really changed. I hear the way they feel and give feedback is very much the same as their road sports tyres, and track day tyres. Ride on a top shelf Michelin road sports tyre, and that's a pretty fair call on what their race slick is like.

However, Casey had trouble with them on a satellite Honda for a number of reasons. For one thing, he had a crew-chief who thought he knew more about setting up the bike than the rider. For another, those were the tyre-war days, and the tyres Michelin produced for Rossi, were made especially for Rossi, after qualifying, on the Saturday night and flown in at dawn on Sunday morning. One set only, for one particular rider. The tyres Casey had were off the shelf and most likely not the top shelf.

That said, Casey had to deal with washing the front all the time, and while that would not have been much fun, he got incredibly good at it. The next year, on the Ducati, that skill came into its own. He had a bike that had power, he had consistent tyres, pretty good front end grip, and (on the original trellis frame bike) he could pick when the front was about to go, and save it. The result was world beating.

Skip forward to now. Casey is not proposing to come back to racing. I wish he would, but ... This time, the Desmocedici has not a trellis, nor a no-frame carbon fibre nightmare. It has a conventional twin spar aluminium beam chassi. And the tyres will be the same for everybody. He has been away for a little while, and he is a happy family man now. I think he will be quick, and I hope that Ducati will listen to him and try what he suggests, because otherwise, all they will get is a photo opportunity...

I think going to less developed TC software will play right into Casey's favour. He likes to pretty much turn it down to hardly running at all anyway... Casey is quite happy sliding a GP bike around without any damn traction control.

Total votes: 103

Stoner was always a Ducati man in his heart once he got the factory ride.
Lack of funding at Ducati saw him having to ride his nuts off as the HRC / Yamaha juggernaut gained propulsion around mid 2008.
I recall all the slagging he got for not developing the bike (which Ducati could not anyway given their miniscule resources at the time), the CF Preziosi efforts and eventually it was crunch time.
His old mates Livio Suppo and Davide Tardozzi were shuffled out to make way for the annointed one.
The 2011 story is history and what a story it was, that Valencia testing for HRC post a 2nd place for Ducati in his last race for them.
Whether he could do a wild card or 3 in 2016 for Ducati and beat his erstwhile alien rivals is a moot point.
Put the other 4 on GP16's for the hell of it and he and he probably will.
But, that's all speculation.
There are so many changes for 2016 that all one can do right now is speculate.
I do believe his data will be invaluable for the 2 Andrea's and although they have differing strengths and weaknesses, Stoner's data along with Pirro's should give Gigi a good deal of pointers. Maybe not so much in the electronics area, but rather in the mechanical grip area.
Glad, as a Ducatista, he's back in red

Total votes: 129

CS27 said as well he wasn't allowed to chase a good setup while doing those tests... as the only (?) rider on a dirty (?) track not doing any setup changes.... not really surprising he was "off pace"

Total votes: 170

I'm surprised David left this extremely salient fact out of his analysis.

Stoner was NOT ALLOWED to do any sort of setup changes on the bike. He could only ride what he was given. As any racer knows, proper setup can net you far more than a second a lap. That's why crew chiefs are in such high demand, and why Rossi was a revelation this year during the races after getting some decent track time throughout the weekend practices to perfect his setup.

Only people who've never ridden against talented individuals would make comments like "he no longer has it". Stoner is one of the most talented riders of all time. Rossi's time at Ducati proved this empirically. No one, and I mean no one, could do what Stoner did on the Ducati.

The Honda Marquez rides? It's been winning championships for a long time. Oh, and the most recent one before Marquez was won by Stoner himself.

Stoner will be very, very fast right from the word go.

Total votes: 133

The antidoping code requires 6 months time prior to competing for returning retire riders to register into the tracking / testing program.

Excerpt from antidoping code below:

Retired Riders Returning to Competition
5.11.1 A Rider in FIM’s Registered Testing Pool who has given notice of retirement to FIM may not resume competing in International Events or National Events until he/she has given FIM written notice of his/her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of six months before returning to Competition, including (if requested) complying with the whereabouts requirements of Annex I to the International Standard for Testing and Investigations. WADA, in consultation with FIM and the Rider's National Anti-Doping Organization, may grant an exemption to the six-month written notice rule where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to a Rider. This decision may be appealed under Article 13. Any competitive results obtained in violation of this Article 5.7.1 shall be Disqualified.

Total votes: 123

What about the 6 hour he rode in? He must have been eligible for that and it's still fairly recent

Total votes: 115

This is good news, and I'm glad it's now official. Even if he only races once a year at Phillip Island, it will be great to see Casey on a MotoGP bike again.

IMHO, Honda treated Stoner less than professionally in turning him down for Dani's replacement rides, and in the Suzuka incident. Apparently, even at the top levels, sometimes you wake up and realize that your employer does not respect you. That's a good reason to move on, and I wish Casey the best.

Total votes: 117

As per another news source it wasn't just MM93 minimizing the development contributions from Stoner, but also that HRC disregarded his input specifically that the 2015 engine power delivery was out of whack. Seems to make sense.

Seems a good and interesting move. Yes please on the wildcards Casey! Go chase the pace and see what pops out. Enough is up in the air and in play that if you can get a bit of extra time on the track prior to the circus arriving you might just be up at the pointy end.

Total votes: 131

Hey David, ready to go back to no delay on comments yet? Seems the storm has passed.

One wonderful aspect of the site is our reader comment community involvement. Folks that aren't yet members (or need to re-up like me, back with you after I pay the January mortgage) - we don't want to have their involvement drop off do we? More potential site supporters and some great folks. Curious. Thanks!
:)

Total votes: 109

Getting my comments in quicker was the tipping point in me deciding to sponsor this year. From a business point of view, I think he should keep it permanent.

Total votes: 122

I love a good race and dont care who is at the front. In my eyes all riders are absolute champs and i wouldnt say i have an out right favourite rider, but i got to say this all makes me very rigid..

Total votes: 112

Marquez' manager Emilio Alzamora is the most logical reason why Stoner wasn't allowed to race in behalf of Dani, he is a very influential person in Repsol Honda that even led to the removal of Alberto Puig and led to the frustration of Mike Leithner for Pedrosa's feedback to be ignored for development because HRC focused on Marquez for development, and in 2015 showed the consequence of that.

Marquez and Alzamora don't want Stoner to ride the RCV, because they don't want to look bad if Stoner rode it better, specially in the early part of the season while Marquez is still using the 2015 chassis and having a lot of problems with the bike, they fear that Stoner would ride around it and maybe get a top 5 or even a podium. And let's not say its not possible, mind you he is he only one that tamed a Ducati while it's still that wild to win races, even the GOAT wasn't able to do that. So Stoner is always a threat, and not because of over a 1 sec off the pace or even make it two, Aoyama's gap is more than that... Even a regular rider such as Redding is always around a second a lap slower that Marquez or Pedrosa. So the more than a second reason is plain bull, Marquez camp blocked Stoner. Period.

Total votes: 158

Not long after Casey retired as a Honda man there was quickly talk of Ducati being desperate to get him back. It suggests how far removed public perceptions (bitter split, irreconcilable differences etc) can be from actual fact - or at least that 'time is a gentleman' as an Italian said recently ...

Troy Bayliss, whom I've had the honour of meeting, is a legend with Ducati fans too, still hugely adored in Italy and beyond, probably more so than Casey, without detracting from the latter's status and achievements. I'm sure Troy will share the limelight graciously – not that Casey has ever been one to hog the stage or crave the adoration of fans!

Total votes: 107

blocking stoner's replacement of pedrosa strikes me as a logical move. stoner hinted that he wasn't pleased that honda did not offer him ride as a replacement rider. it seems natural that marquez and his handlers would block any move that might even slightly threaten marquez's standing and reputation. even a retired stoner is a rider that no one wishes to face in a straight fight.

Total votes: 135

Its just a feeling; don't ask me why I have it. All I can say is that Casey Stoner could well be the most important development in Ducati's MotoGP plans for a very long time. The firm now seems ready to spend and Andrea Dovizioso isn't doing as well as he is expected to. That could be the opening for Stoner. It would be very nice to see him racing full time on a Ducati. This thing about him being a brand ambassador, test rider and wild card rider in races does not appeal one bit. Put him on a GP 16 and let us see him go. He is a racer not a tester. I am no fan of his, but I have the highest respect for his talent.

Total votes: 128

Some interesting views here, and goangelone makes some very interesting observations. I can tell you this. When Stoner tested the Honda 800s for the first time, at the two day Valencia test at the end of 2010, he liked one very much, and the other not at all. It turned out the one he liked was Dani Pedrosa's, and the one he did not like was that of Andrea Dovizioso. Stoner and Pedrosa are on the same page in terms of what they like in chassis set-up and power delivery. So much so that when Dani was injured in 2011 and Stoner had to test the then new 1000cc Honda at Brno by himself, when he was later asked for his views, he said he thought it was good but he really wanted to hear Dani's opinion. No giant ego there. So, perhaps he and Dani were also on the same page early this year, but HRC ploughed on regardless, listening to Marquez more than the other two. That, and HRC turning him down cold with his generous offer to sub for Dani while he was out injured probably took him back to memories of the old Ducati Corse management - before the Germans put a broom through the joint. So, on one hand you have HRC failing to utilise him, and then on the other, Davide Tardozzi and others at Ducati singing sweet overtures to him. And for Ducati, they can very subtly use Stoner as the Sword of Damocles hovering over Dovizioso's head. Time for that fellow to shit, or get off the pot. His end of season results have been woeful. The kicker was Phillip Island. Iannone was very much in the hunt to win that. Dovizioso was in the hunt to beat a few privateer machines, and managed 13th. Shades of Marco Melandri.

Total votes: 117

Amazing feedback to your stories David by fellow readers. Do take care with this ''moderation'', Dave. Readers make your Blog equally as interesting as your articles. Or more sometimes, like now for example.
Stoner being more than 1 sec off is not a valid excuse to not use him as DP replacement. Real reasons well described. Recent stories by you and other respected writers suggest to an enormous and hideous ego on the part of MM, his hugely successful art being that he and his entourage have managed to keep it away from public.
You and others have also in some (admittedly few) articles described the bitter Spanish bullfights (Alzamora vs Puig) within the closed walls of Honda.
As often, Honda shot itself in the foot. If by their own admission they threw CS engine criticisms in the trash bin, and knowing well DP's penchant for smooth engines, it is obvious that HRC followed MM's suggestions in setting up the 2015 RCV, killing the 2015 title. But of course they have to stick with MM, as DP is wise but unfortunately much older and with a lot of injuries / issues to rely on.
I am betting CS27 and riders with similar technique will have a better chance to compete this year, because of the non fully developed tires and unified software --which will probably create a huge issue for JL.
When it took Honda more than half a year to develop a partial remedy for their own problem (2015 engine character), it is not inconceivable that it could take them or any other factory equally or even longer to iron out the inconsistencies of someone else's unified software.

Total votes: 116

Wow, Casey Stoner and Troy Bayliss are quite a team to have as brand ambassadors. Fortunately Honda still has Marc Marquez as a brand ambassador.

Total votes: 118

I think Casey left ducati because they were not listening enough. It's clear HRC didn't for 2015 either.

I imagine MM wanted to go his own way and since he decided CS's feedback needed to be retested in the past, decided to go opposite. Blinkered by his ego.

I wonder what DP's feedback was? I'm sure it doesn't matter that much if its not similar to MM. He's in a similar position as Hayden in 2007.

HRC lost a voice worth listening to. Let's hope Ducati listens this time.

Total votes: 123

When you read Casey's biography, it's obvious the man left with unfinished business at Borgo Panigale, and this might be why he's so keen to return, even if it seems Domenicali (Ducati boss) and him aren't best pals.

But Casey is very found of real friendship and he still has a few close friends in Bologna plus he already worked with Gigi and he considers Ducati Moto GP Team Software and Strategies Manager Gabriele Conti as one of the best crew member he ever had.

I don't know what Casey wants to achieve but if he finds out he's still very fast, my guess is he'll be back racing: the man is so hooked on competition he probably races Adriana in the morning to get to the bathroom first.

Total votes: 107

I dunno, unless his eye sight is completely shot at the ripe old age of 30, I think he'd be pretty happy to follow.......

Total votes: 116

I'll pay that :)

Total votes: 111

Only 1 second off the pace of Marquez and he barely rode the bike? I would say that's not bad. How far off the pace was Aoyama? Let hope he gets more time on the Ducati and shows us something in a wildcard ride. Who wouldn't love to see him swapping paint with Marquez as they lay black lines all over that beautiful track. Count me in on going to Phillip Island if he turns up. Gonna be a blast folks!!

Total votes: 120

If a rider is an official factory tester, he does not need to be entered as a 'wild card' - witness Michele Pirro, Takumi Takahasahi and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

Total votes: 103

It seems that time and better information has caused a significant re-evaluation of Stoner in the minds of many fans of the sport, from the oftimes bitter and vindictive sort of commentary to excitement that he will again be seen on track and perhaps on the grid. A well-rehearsed Stoner on a competitive machine at P.I. in 2016 would create a buzz of huge proportions.

Interesting too, the information regarding the lack of appreciation (and apparently, downright opposition) to Stoner's potential input to HRC this year. Given Nakamoto's evident liking and respect for Stoner throughout his active time there, one has to suspect that it was pressure from Repsol rather than an HRC management decision that played the major part. I wonder if the apparent commentary by Marquez was all his own work, or scripted by Alzamorra to protect the mystique of his rider? After all, Marquez was handed a bike significantly developed on Stoner's watch that took him to an immediate WC..

Stoner seems to have retained close and loyal friendships with ( at least most of) the people he worked closely with in his teams and along the way in his career development - yes, even Puig! I believe that for some considerable time after he left Ducati, the team members had his picture as their screen-saver on their laptops (which might have irritated the rider who succeeded him). I will be most interested to see Christian Gabbarini's commentary when he retires (hopefully we will get one!) about their time together.

Total votes: 94

reputation soared (not that it was bad) when the great valentino rossi couldn't gel with the ducati. you can bet that casey was smiling back at home in Australia. but as interesting as casey getting into the present mix sounds, he's still going to be the guy that you would be low on the list of riders whom you would have a beer with.

Total votes: 98

I think Casey would be great to have a beer and bbq with. He's pretty close to the bottom of the list of people I'd want to go to a nightclub with, and I think going to a nightclub with anyone would be pretty low on his list of wants.

Total votes: 106

Stoner frequently mentions his friendship with Dani Pedrosa. Could bringing Stoner back at Ducati be a step towards wooing Pedrosa across to 'the Borgo Panigale factory' as well? Pedrosa had a great end to the 2015 season but there's no shortage of people who think it's time for him to make way for someone else at Honda. Just a thought ...

Total votes: 112

Just before we all get dizzy over the possibilities of Stoner on a Ducati at P.I. 2016...

Part of the 'nth degree' of competitiveness of - particularly - the top guys, is knowing pretty intimately the moves of their direct competition. For example, Stoner pulled the magic 'por fuera' move on Lorenzo at Laguna Seca in 2011 knowing and trusting that Lorenzo would ride him tight but NOT ride him out (and people forget that Stoner did that at least TWICE to Rossi in the 2008 race in exactly the same way).

If one remembers the 2011 season, it was almost always Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa in Parc Ferme (when Pedrosa was able to ride, that is). I recall people complaining about the 'lovey-dovey' reactions of those three in Parc Ferme, when they were always laughing, congratulating each other, most evidently absolutely enjoying the thrill of fair and uncompromising competition, when some fans wanted snarky, bitchy reactions. As displays of genuine sportsmanship, it was a pretty golden time for motoGp. Almost Stoner's first comment on clinching his second WC was commiseration for Lorenzo: 'we didn't want to win the WC this way'.

2012, P.I. - and Pedrosa's last chance at the WC fell when chasing Stoner, who was out of contention. NO complaint from Pedrosa of 'blocking his chances' for the WC. The eternal bridesmaid, once again denied the top rung, took it with total dignity. I was not always a fan of Pedrosa, but his reaction then cemented him in my mind as a BIG man of the sport, in heart if not stature. How times seem to have changed.

IF Stoner were to be on the grid at P.I. 2016 for one race of the year, there would be fast guys around him that he has never raced and as anybody who has raced knows, it takes a bit of time to assess before just trying the pass..

Of course, Stoner's history at P.I. says he never had to pass many riders. In 6 years of P.I. races, I think he was headed on about four laps?

Which - if he has the bike and he's back up to speed - means that finding out about the habits of the unknowns is rendered a non-issue. If all of THAT were to happen, then if he hits the front, to quote Nick Harris in 2012 ( gods forgive me me for quoting Nick Harris), 'settle back for the CASEY STONER SHOW'.

P.I. would erupt. The stampede of people down the main straight at the end of the race to be near the podium would quite possibly cause the earth to wobble on its axis. It would be the modern-day equivalent of Hailwood's return to the IOM.

Fairy tales extremely rarely happen. I am one who remembers P.I. 2009, Stoner returning from his lactose intolerance enforced lay-off, 1 race on from his return: the fairly tale happened. Two would be pushing the envelope. Three would be freaks of nature - and Hailwood at the IOM plus Bayliss at Valencia 2006 has already cemented two spots.

Still, we could dare to hope. Just a good result would be a great achievement, anything more would be EPIC. I am one who thinks that P.I. 2015 was one of the great races of the last while, totally screwed in memory by what followed.

And as an aside: does anyone else think it is amazingly weird that THE iconic Italian motorcycle has as its heroes two Australians? I guess, no moreso than two Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have Spaniards and an Italian as their enduring heroes.

Total votes: 117

The 2016 modifications to rules sees the introduction of fuel allocation penalties for podium success. If you introduce a very fast wildcard, potentially a race winner, then you may find your team are litres down in the subsequent races, how would you existing riders react? The Andreas would not be impressed. Stoner will make a decision early in the season if he is too race. Phillip Island wild card only if Ducati have nothing to loose.

Sounds counterintuitive but the new rules themselves are likely to force Ducati to keep Stoner off the start line.

I also think that the levelling of the 'electronics war' by the introduction of a standard but customisable system will see Honda and Yamaha working very hard to maintain their "power vs fuel consumption" lead. Stoner knows that his comeback to a non-Japanese factory ride has to be now. As time goes by, the Japanese factories will learn how to manage the new system, and this window of opportunity will pass.

The reason for turning up as a test rider, and not as a racer, is he wants a good look at the current Ducati, if he thinks he can win on it then you will see him don the race suit, if not he will work in development. Why? As Rossi proved, don't make promises you can't keep. Make an informed decision prior to publicising your intentions.

Finally and ignoring my above ramblings, can you imagine the Sunday night bliss of watching Lorenzo, Marquez, Pedrossa, Rossi and STONER charging into that first corner? I'm getting a little giddy just thinking about, might have to "up the blood pressure meds" if it happens...

Total votes: 112

I am really sorry David but I disagree with others about the management of the comments section over previous weeks...

I have huge respect for you. This is my "go to" site and I have shared it with many other MotoGP fans. I have always valued your usually balanced, in depth and broad analysis of situations and behind the scenes scoops. However, I have been really disappointed with the censorship that has existed following the end of last season. I agree there have been a huge section of VR fans who have acted appallingly and should be censored, but there is an equally huge proportion of more moderate and balanced VR fans that have been censored and shouted down on this site, which I do not feel represents the usually objective and balanced viewpoint you try to achieve. Without revisiting all of the rubbish from the end of last season I consider myself an objective fan. I don't need to be told what to think as I have eyes and a brain. I saw a completely different MM in Sepang to Valencia and I am intelligent enough to know that, whatever the reasons, he messed with the championship result and for me that is not okay. VR got his penalty as he lost the championship, perhaps his last chance ever, but there are no ramifications for MM. I know I will just have to live with it but I am allowed to feel cross about it.

On topic it is interesting to hear more and more about the role Alzamora seems to be playing and how toxic this appears. I am intrigued to know more about the tensions between Honda/HRC/Repsol/Alzamora...Regards Stoner I found him sublime to watch riding but was never a huge fan of his racing or attitude. However, I would love to see him race again. Add in Iannone, Vinales and Smith on competitive bikes and it might be the antidote we all need...

Total votes: 128

I'm quite flabbergasted about the return of Stoner to Ducati. I've read his book and never thought about a return. He really must have felt he was treated badly by HRC. Personally, I think he will have a very hard time returning for a wildcard ride. The press will be all over him, the thing he enjoyed the least. But who knows, its interesting for sure...

I also have a great deal of respect for you David and the site. It "was" always the first site I went for to see the MotoGP news. That's why I want to say this to you FYI.

I wasn't happy with the censorship, apparantly also my posts were censored, but I have to respect that. I do not agree with your overall opinion about the outcome of the Valencia race, but again, I have to respect that, but I didn't expect it and I'm disappointed about it. I also personally felt that discussing "that topic" was on of the less objectives articles I think that's a shame.

Al these things made me less enthousiastic to visit the site, so I don't do it to often anymore answering to your comment "If you don't like my articles, than you can choice not to read them."

Total votes: 92