Casey Stoner only got in about...
Casey Stoner only got in about six laps on the 2014 Honda RC213V before rain forced a halt to the proceedings.
factory test rider Kosuke Akiyoshi still recovering from a fractured hip suffered in an All-Japan Superbike series race in June, HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto
called in a favor to his favorite rider—even though that rider had retired some nine months ago
. Two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner
gladly took up Nakamoto’s offer of testing the latest prototype version of next year’s RC213V at Motegi
in addition to the customer production version of the RC that is being offered for sale to private teams. The first of several tests planned for this year involving Stoner started today.
Stoner's former crew chief...
Stoner's former crew chief Cristian Gabarrini (second from left) was brought over to the test to assist in helping Stoner get the most out of the bike.
Just how serious is HRC taking this test? The racing arm of Honda Motor flew in Stoner’s former crew chief Cristian Gabarrini (who now oversees much of the technical side of the Honda MotoGP effort, and is one of the few non-Japanese staff to be given the title “HRC engineer”) to help get the most out of the test sessions with Stoner.
Stoner will get another chance...
Stoner will get another chance to ride tomorrow.
Unfortunately, inclement weather cut short the first day of the test after Stoner was able to turn just six laps. Nonetheless, the Australian was glad to be back on a MotoGP bike. “It was good to get back on the bike, if only for a few laps,” said Stoner. “We only managed to get one run in before the rain arrived which was a little disappointing. It was really nice to get that first run, it's been nine months since I've been on a bike and it's going to take me some time to get used to everything again. The bike and the track felt good and I hope that we can get some better testing in tomorrow with some dry track time and run some more laps.”
Stoner testing the customer production RCV is not only to help development further, but surely a sort of PR ploy to get more teams interested in the bike. Honda announced it was planning on building five of the production RCVs, but at this late point in time, only one team (Honda Gresini) has committed to purchasing one, after the initial enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect wore off. It seems that many of the CRT teams don't see the production racer as a viable option at the moment; Stoner turning quick laps on the bike, however, might change their mind.