The Ducati MotoGP team has confirmed approaching Casey Stoner about the possibility of a 2016 tie-up, amid rumors of wild card appearances in grands prix.
Double world champion Stoner, who retired from MotoGP at the end of 2012 aged only 27, is currently contracted to Honda as a test rider. That role extended to a racing comeback at this year’s Suzuka Eight Hours, which ended in a violent crash and multiple injuries.
Earlier this week, German publication Speedweek reported that Stoner was set to leave Honda to rejoin Ducati in a similar role, having grown frustrated by issues such as Honda spurning him when it needed a stand-in for Dani Pedrosa earlier this year. The report suggested Stoner would make wild card race appearances for Ducati alongside test and development duties.
Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said it would be inappropriate to comment while Stoner was still under contract to Honda, but acknowledged that talks had taken place.
“He currently has a contract, as we understand, until the end of this year with Honda as a test rider,” said Ciabatti. “Obviously it would be an honor for us to work with Casey again and we approached him to know what his thoughts are for the future. We’ll see how it goes.”
Stoner is the only rider to have won a MotoGP title on a Ducati so far, overcoming Valentino Rossi and Yamaha to take the 2007 crown in his first season with the Italian factory and only his second in the premier class. He ultimately took 23 grand prix wins with Ducati before leaving for Honda at the end of 2010.
“I can only say the truth that Casey is a hero for most of the Ducati fans,” Ciabatti added. “He brought many many race wins and a fantastic world title in MotoGP – the only Ducati title in MotoGP – in 2007.
“As I said, for Ducati it would be great to be able to work with Casey again as a brand ambassador and a very special test rider.”