Honda: Stoner 'a special and interesting rider…'

Repsol Honda's Alberto Puig responds to rumours that Casey Stoner could return to Honda as a MotoGP test rider.
Honda: Stoner 'a special and interesting rider…'

With Casey Stoner now officially confirmed as parting ways with Ducati, rumours have increased that the former double MotoGP champion might return to a test-riding role for Honda.

The Australian initially helped with RCV development after retiring from competition at the end of 2012, then rejoined Ducati - where he had won his first world title - as a test rider and brand ambassador from 2016.

The Stoner-Ducati agreement ends this year and will not be renewed.

Meanwhile Puig, who played a major role in Stoner's early career, is now head of the Repsol Honda team...

"Well, rumours are rumours," Puig said. "But Casey has a good relationship in the past with Honda, he won a title, and that's it. You know well that I personally also have a long relationship with him.

"Casey is a very special rider and is an interesting rider for our company. And of course to let him try your bike sometimes is always interesting for all of us.

"But on the rumour [of Stoner returning to Honda] I cannot tell you much, frankly speaking."

Puig has already secured the signature of Jorge Lorenzo alongside Marc Marquez for 2019. The further addition of Stoner would mean ten MotoGP titles working on the RC213V project.

The Stoner-Ducati split was by 'mutual consent', with Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti praising Stoner's help in raising the Desmosedici to become arguably the most competitive bike on the grid.

"You cannot say 'why did Ducati not want to continue', because it's a mutual decision," Ciabatti said. "So basically, we had an agreement [with Stoner] which was based on 2+1 years, when we signed it in 2016. So the end of this original agreement was by the end of 2018.

"I think with the help of Casey we have been able to develop a very competitive bike, the one you see now. And obviously we are grateful to him and also to Michele Pirro and to the factory riders because it was a continuous development to be able to bring the bike to the current level.

"For different reasons, when we met in July we thought there were not really the conditions to continue. I cannot go into too much detail, but what I want to say is that we are very thankful to Casey, he is definitely one of the most loved riders by the Ducati fans and we could witness at the World Ducati Week in July in Misano how much the Ducatisti love him.

"So in a way it's a shame that we are not able to continue, but that's life and we will move on."