Crash.net is reporting that Casey Stoner has already made his mind up to leave Ducati, according to a high-ranking Marlboro Ducati team member. While rumors were rife a couple weeks ago that Stoner had signed a deal to ride with HRC in the upcoming season, parties were quick to correct that nothing had been signed, and this was still rumor. Rumor it might be, but the skinny in the MotoGP paddock is that Stoner has basically come to terms with riding with Honda in 2011, with the contract ready to go, but still sans signatures.
The move would mean Stoner’s return to the tutelage of Livio Suppo, and the likely ousting of Dani Pedrosa from the HRC Honda team. Pedrosa’s contract is also at its expiration, whereas Andrea Dovizioso’s contract still has a one-year option tied to it. This hasn’t stopped the Spanish press from imagining a Stoner/Pedrosa duo at HRC Honda, which could very well rival Fiat-Yamaha’s Rossi/Lorenzo pairing, should the two tuning fork riders remain where they are.
That prospect seems to have some question marks though, as Stoner’s absense from Ducati would leave a large vacuum of space that the Italian company would like to fill, and the person they would like to fill it with is reportedly Valentino Rossi. Ducati has made it clear that they would like Rossi to wear red in 2011, but that deal remains to be seen. Rossi and Yamaha have both talked about the Champion’s continuance at Fiat-Yamaha, but you never know.
With all signs pointing to Stoner at HRC now, silly season is about to get a whole lot more interesting as we switch gears in to motorcycling’s musical chairs.