Honda announced today that retired two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner will participate in four tests in the next few months at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan with HRC’s R&D team, riding the latest version of the RC213V as well as the new production MotoGP racebike that will be sold to private MotoGP teams next year. Stoner was offered the opportunity due to the injuries suffered by Honda test rider Kosuke Akiyoshi, who crashed at the fourth round of the All-Japan Superbike championship at Tsukuba on June 29. Akiyoshi suffered a fractured hip, and has also been ruled out of the upcoming Suzuka 8-Hours race this weekend.
Although rumors persist that Stoner may be planning a wildcard ride at the Phillip Island round of the MotoGP calendar, the release by Honda states that “this is now out of the question.” Stoner abruptly retired at the end of last year, citing a desire to spend more time with his family and growing weary of the politics and drama outside of racing in MotoGP. Stoner and HRC executive vice president Shuhei Nakamoto have remained good friends since Stoner’s exit from racing, which gave rise to this opportunity for Stoner.
“It’s been almost seven months now since Valencia and I’m still happy and comfortable with the decision I made to stop motorcycle racing,” said Stoner, “even if sometimes I miss riding my RCV. That’s why I am happy with HRC’s offer to do some tests in Motegi this year! This will allow me to enjoy what I miss: riding a MotoGP bike! I can’t wait to get on the RCV to see how it has changed from last year and I’d like to thank Honda for this opportunity.”
“We are very pleased to have Casey back in the team!” said Nakamoto. “He knows this machine very well and I’m sure he can help our engineers and technicians with the development of the RC213V. We will also ask him to test the new production racer and give us his initial feedback to assist us in producing the best machine possible.”