MotoGP’s Australian Grand Prix organizers are hoping to lure Casey Stoner out of retirement for this year’s race at Phillip Island.
The 27-year-old has won his home event for the past six straight seasons. His 2012 triumph is also his final win in the premier class.
While he has maintained he has no plans to return to competitive action in the championship, news that Stoner will complete a series of tests for Honda has raised the Australian GP Corporation’s hopes of tempting him back.
“Honda had three bikes in their garage last year with [Andrea] Dovizioso — this year Casey might be that third rider,” chief executive Andrew Westacott told AAP. “I’d love him to be there [at Phillip Island] and if he can make it down, we’d throw out the welcome mat.
“Now that he’s back on the bike from a Honda point of view, we’ll always look to have him down there — in the same way we’ve always extended the invitation to any of our previous legends. We’ll have some conversations over the next three months now that there’s a little bit more of a plan when it comes to Honda’s involvement.”
This year’s October event has been billed as the ‘New Era’ following Stoner’s departure, but Westacott admits it has proved almost impossible to match the hype surrounding Stoner’s 2012 farewell.
“Nothing can compare with last year. It was just one of those unbelievable Australian sporting moments,” he said. “The one-off interest last year was great for the ongoing awareness of the event and ticket sales but it is a little bit more difficult (in 2013) because what we’ve got to do is promote how open the season is rather than having a hero.”
Honda insisted last week that it was “out of the question” that Stoner could make a wild card appearance either in Japan or Australia this season.