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 that 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.

Source: Ducati Corse & HRC; Photo: Ducati Corse

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • BBQdog

    Kept as Honda spare part until they were sure Dorna’s Little Monster could do the job ??

  • n/a

    Wonder did he get #27 RC213V-s before he left?

  • crshnbrn

    Or used as scapegoat for 2015 RC213V’s early season handling woes?

  • Jason

    “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.”

    I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense. Stoner was too slow but HRC decided to go with someone even slower? Aoyama only finished 1 race out of the 4 he started and he was 47 seconds off the leader.

  • H.L.

    No doubt in my mind that when CS saw Iannone annihilate the M1 and the RC down the straight at PI and also saw him stay in the race until the end, he immediately became very moist and thought PI wildcard.

    Another classic example of HRC not taking care of their non-factory riders and past champions. If it’s true that MM wasn’t happy about his feedback and input and HRC catered to MM and backed off of listening to CS, then it’s totally disrespectful to CS and a waste of time completely. Hence, goodbye HRC.

    MM style is very unorthodox and unique, therefore HRC is selling itself very short, long term as it relates to future development design and set-up by not listening to CS. They must design the bike to work for all riders, not just MM.

    Hope CS finishes in front of both Hondas as a wildcard in PI 2016.

  • paulus

    They only have to manage a bike for the MotoGP winner…. that is the goal. To win the championship.
    Stoner was also one of those who had to master an almost unrideable bike.

  • John Walker

    No one stuck a gun to CS head. He quit Honda when he was in the GP game. He quit them as test pilot. Honda doesn’t owe him anything except maybe an escort out of the building.

  • John Walker

    They designed the bike to work well for DP or did you not watch those races?

  • Darren B

    I’d like to think so too, I’m sure he watched the race with as much glee as anyone else watching, but its kinda wishful thinking.

    I pray you’re right. I don’t doubt for a second if casey wanted to ride again in 2014/2015, Honda would have rolled out the red carpet and gone to extreme lengths & amounts of dollars to get him, including boot Pedrosa. Nakamoto said as much minus the Pedrosa part.

    Just like anyone would expect I imagine in the interim Marquez & Alzamora have developed a firm grasp around HRC. This would include throwing their weight around with development of the bike & testing for any reason they saw fit, be it not being happy with results or direction or feeling threatened or whatever.

    The world can change in a heartbeat & Marquez is Honda’s Rossi for the next decade thanks to Stoner vacating the throne. Casey’s no dummy, he knew how things would play out giving up the best ride and I’d have to assume he was/is completely fine with it. Just wouldn’t expect him to sit around and be a scapegoat for poor choices that cost them a season and it’s good to see things on the up for Ducati so he can return home.

    The laptime hyperbole says as much. It’s spin. Stoner’s by far and away the best test rider there ever was. Most test riders wouldn’t be coming close to the real race performance of the aliens, nitpicking he’s a second off is misdirection. Casey is THE alien.

  • Jd

    Yup it was casey everyone had to beat when alien became a term, ala Colin Edwards

  • Jd

    Oh yea he also developed the pick up the bike in a turn to keep the grip not to mention scraping his elbow all over the place, though it was done by others well before.

  • Alex P

    I think he has made a good choice! At least the Ducati product line up is a little more interesting than the boring Honda’s.. and besides if I was Casey then I wouldn’t want to be associated with Marc Marquez in any way or form.

  • Chet Wisniewski

    Pretty much my thoughts to a point. Seeing how the last three races of 2015 laid out, and the amount of backstabbing re: MM and Honda, makes me also wonder if he didn’t want to wash his hands of that mess.
    Good luck at Ducati, CS! Looking forward to it.

  • I am not a Stoner’s fan but his riding in PI whether on a Honda or a Duc, was out of this world! I want to see him sliding, (or dancing, to put it better…), there again.

  • On the contrary Honda owes him an apology for his broken shoulder and fractured tibia, after the mechanical failure of their bike on Suzuka’s race earlier this year…

  • C’mon Man

    I, too, want to see Casey drift a GP bike around the corner, rightfully named after him.

  • H.L.

    GK, thanks for saving me the time. There you go JW, Honda is simply a shady outfit.

  • H.L.

    Indeed. The fact that he was willing to fill in for Pedrosa means he is locked in for a PI wildcard and maybe one before that. A track of his liking.

  • H.L.

    I’m not a fan but I’m also not with those people that complain about his whining and complaining. If he didn’t like talking to the media then that’s his business. No need to judge him. Some people have social disorders and have trouble with those things.

    As a paying VideoPass subscriber, I just want as much added to the pot as possible for next year. CS battling with VR, MM, JL, DP, my Lord! That would be awesome.

  • H.L.

    Wow! That was ridiculous. MM doesn’t even slide like that.

  • H.L.

    I see EVERY race.

    They didn’t design the 2015 bike for a rider who is not coming back after 2016. He has on the other hand, been riding a RC Honda for 10 years going on 11. He knows how to get around on a top 4 bike.

  • H.L.

    Fair enough.

  • Jack Meoph

    Splashed a tobacco company logo pic, nice.

  • And they still owe Valentino an NSR 500 that they promised waaaay back, when he was riding for them…

  • bykpimp

    Right you are!! Honda should of given Valle the bike like they said they were going to!

  • crshnbrn

    Don’t smoke, never have, but I like it too.

  • Jack Meoph

    I remember the days when the Smokin’ Joe Camel Girls would hand out samples and swag at the Laguna Seca SBK races. I got some nice zippos from those promos, and still have some of the swag stashed …..uh somewhere.

  • Alex P

    I thought I read somewhere that Stoner had grown frustrated with Honda, limiting him to only riding the RC213V-S?? Is this true?

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    Stoner! I see him replacing the Omni-present odd-man-out, Dovisioso, before too long

  • Ricky West

    i seriously doubt stoner gives a shiet about the MM controversy. Hopefully stoner gets to ride in one of the wild card races, win and show El Choker Flossi how it’s done.

  • cohenarik18

    try electrik cycicale at