Official: Stoner joins Honda for 2011

Honda may also keep Pedrosa and Dovizioso

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jul. 09, 2010
Casey Stoner will race for Honda in the 2011 MotoGP World Championship.

Rumors of Stoner reaching a deal with Honda began to surface in May but the news is now official. Stoner previously raced for the Honda LCR team in his rookie season in 2006, and in 2011, he will race for the factory team. Stoner will also be reunited with former Ducati team manager Livio Suppo who currently manages Honda’s sponsorships.

“We are very pleased that Casey will join Honda again next year. Clearly he is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he will bring valuable speed and experience to our team,” says Shuhei Nakamoto, vice president of Honda Racing Corporation.

As for the team’s current riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, Nakamoto suggested Honda may retain them both for a three-rider team.

“In the factory Honda squad we already have two very strong and experienced riders in Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso who are performing very well and currently hold second and third positions in the 2010 World Championship,” says Nakamoto. “HRC hopes also to retain these two riders for next year - giving us what would be a truly formidable line-up.”

Casey Stoner is the only rider to deliver a World Championship for Ducati.

Stoner will leave Ducati, the team he has raced for over four seasons including his 2007 championship-winning campaign. Over the years, Stoner developed a reputation as being the only rider able to tame the Ducati Desmosedici. Relations between Stoner and the team began to strain last year when Stoner sat out several races because of a mystery illness. Still, Ducati Corse released a statement thanking Stoner for his time with the team.

“I would like to thank Casey on behalf of our fans and our sponsors, but most of all on behalf of all the people working at Ducati,” says Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse general director. “The victories and emotions he gave us, rewarded all the hard work and sacrifice we made. In these four years together we have had a lot of great moments. Securing the 2007 MotoGP World Championship title and the victory at Mugello in 2009 were moments that we will never forget. In Casey we not only found an incredibly talented rider, but also an honest and loyal guy and that’s why there will always be a strong and sincere bond between us, even as a competitor.”

Stoner also stated his appreciation for Ducati.

“I must thank Ducati for giving me such a great opportunity to race and win with them over these past four years,” says Casey Stoner. “They took a gamble when they signed me at the end of 2006 as I was unknown, but as we worked together we were able to win a Championship, many races and challenge for the Championship in the last two seasons. I have now decided to move on and I will have new challenges in the future and different obstacles to overcome, but I will not forget these years with Ducati and the people I have had the privilege to work so closely with. So a big thanks to Ducati and all our sponsors who we have shared success with while achieving lifelong goals.”

Stoner’s departure leaves a hole in Ducati Marlboro’s garage. Nicky Hayden has shown some potential this season on the Desmosedici, actually leading Stoner in the standings 69-67. Ducati will need to find a replacement for Stoner, with Valentino Rossi being the most popular choice. Expect to see more Rossi to Ducati rumors to pop up over the next few months.