Official: Casey Stoner Joins Three-Man Factory Honda Team For 2011

After months of secrecy, the announcement is finally out in the open. Ducati and Honda today officially announced the news that Casey Stoner is to leave Ducati and is heading to Honda. The move has been expected for a long time, ever since news leaked out after the Jerez round of MotoGP. Stoner's father and manager Colin accompanied his son to the Jerez race, and has not been seen at a race since.

The news is no real surprise: Stoner is known to have a very strong relationship with Livio Suppo, and when the former Ducati team boss left Borgo Panigale to join HRC, he reportedly told Ducati's management that his first target would be the young Australian, and that he intended to bring Stoner to Honda.

Since winning the championship for Ducati at his first attempt, in 2007 on the brand new 800cc Desmosedici GP7, Stoner's success - though still phenomenal - has waned. His 2008 championship defense faltered at Laguna Seca and was scuppered by consecutive falls at Brno and Misano, and his 2009 challenge was halted by a mystery illness that was later diagnosed as lactose intolerance. Problems with a different set of forks being used in the 2010 bike caused Stoner to crash out unexpectedly early this season, though reverting to the forks from last year appear to have resolved the issue. Despite the problems, Casey Stoner still has 20 victories in MotoGP, putting him level with the legendary Freddie Spencer.

For Stoner, a switch to Honda would be a return, rather than a new adventure. The Australian rode a 990cc satellite RC211V for Lucio Cecchinello's LCR Honda team in his debut year in 2006, where he made an instant impact, taking pole in his second ever MotoGP race and gaining a reputation for being incredibly fast, but prone to crashing. That the crashes were down to the nature of the front Michelin tires became clear when Stoner's crashing ceased overnight after switching to the Bridgestone-shod Ducati.

Press releases were issued simultaneously by Honda and Ducati announcing Stoner's move to HRC, but the Honda announcement contained perhaps the most interesting nugget of information. In an almost casual comment, HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto confirmed Honda's intention to run a three-man factory effort in 2011, hoping to retain both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso for HRC. Current expectations are that two riders will figure in the Repsol team, while a separate team will be created under Red Bull sponsorship, with full factory support. Casey Stoner's name has been most often linked to the one-man Red Bull team, but given Andrea Dovizioso's long association with Red Bull, it could make more sense for Dovizioso to take that spot.

Speculation will now intensify over who is to take Casey Stoner's spot at Ducati, but the results are almost a foregone conclusion. Apart from some last minute wrangling over alternatives, Valentino Rossi seems almost certain to join the Marlboro Ducati team for 2011. That announcement is likely to come by Brno.

Below are the official press releases announcing Casey Stoner's switch from Ducati to Honda.

Marlboro Ducati press release:

Ducati and Stoner to part company at the end of 2010 after four fantastic years together

JULY 9, 2010

The Valencia Grand Prix on November 7th 2010 will be the event that concludes four years of extraordinary collaboration between Ducati and Casey Stoner. An important relationship characterized by a strong reciprocal esteem and many victories, among which the first MotoGP World Title for both the Italian manufacturer and the Australian rider.

Stoner arrived in Ducati in 2007 and, riding the Desmosedici GP7 that was making its debut in the new 800cc category, he took his first victory in the very first race, embarking on a path that would lead to the world title later in that same year and many more successes during subsequent seasons.

Ducati would like to thank Casey Stoner, who has decided to undertake a new challenge, with gratitude and affection that will always remain.

"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," commented 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."

"I must thank Ducati for giving me such a great opportunity to race and win with them over these past four years" commented 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"

HRC press release:


HRC is delighted to announce that Casey Stoner will become a factory Honda rider in next year's MotoGP World Championship. The Australian 2007 World Champion, who rode in the Honda LCR Team in his debut MotoGP season in 2006, will rejoin Honda after four seasons with Ducati. Honda's complete factory team line-up for 2011 will be officially presented later in the season.

HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said:

"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. 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. HRC hopes also to retain these two riders for next year - giving us what would be a truly formidable line-up."

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I think everyone but the naysayers believed this to be true since it was first announced. People brushed it off as silly season conjecture but I think we all knew and felt something was amiss at Ducati.

One thing I don't understand is the timing of the announcements. Why does the "season" for MotoGP contracts take place during the "season" and not in the off-season like most sports?

And secondly, why would Casey sign with Honda at the second race!? Was he that disappointed in his 2009 performance? We all know that had nothing to do with the bike...

That is the only thing that astounds me... He had an unfortunate 2009 season with his illness and it seems as though everyone supported him through it (however what do I know of the inner workings of the team and the organization) and only one race into 2010 and he's already signed???? Why didn't he just sign with Honda before the end of the 2009 season and tell everyone to feck off. It's almost as if he didn't give 2010 a chance.. I've heard the rumblings of his distaste in Ducati trying to court Lorenzo last year so maybe that's a factor....

Anyhow, even though we all knew this was coming I just kind of get the feeling that Casey pulled a Lebron James on Ducati, almost on the same day no less too. LOL

twitter @deftjester

I'm not terribly surprised by this move either, but I really think it's been long in the works. Stoner's close relationship with Livio Suppo was surely not going to disappear, and Ducati telegraphed their desire to develop a bike that was clearly for multiple riders--and not just Stoner--when they made the huge changes to the bike chassis and engine in the offseason. Has it helped Stoner? Arguably. Has it helped all the other Ducati riders? Unquestionably. Stoner was quickly losing his #1 status at Ducati, and this was just inevitable.

Plus, one must consider his oh-so-famous relationship with Ducati's title sponsor, Marlboro. Or rather, the lack of relationship. Stoner will be happier at Honda, where a three-rider setup (even if it's technically two teams) means he can focus less on the PR and more on the racing. And, this gives Marlboro an excuse to throw godly amounts of Euros, Dollars, Pounds, Yen, and Pesos at the rest of the Fantastic 4.

Altho he wasn't sandbagging at all, I think Casey has been on"relax" mood for the last two GP at least, not taking inconsiderate risks, and yes, maybe, studying the HRC bike after all :)

I know he's despise by some, but Casey has won my admiration and while not a japanese bikes type of person at all, I will surely follow his new adventure with Honda with a positive view.

The hard part to swallow for me now is to welcome Rossi in the Ducati garage as i have never been too much of a Vale "fan". But the Burgess-Presiozi collaboration alone will surely compensate for all the hard manipulation Rossi has again done altho this year he actually fell into it more than got what he wanted imho.

I think we're going to see some serious shakeups. How much everyone will like them remains to seen, but even though I'm not a Rossi fan, if he goes to Ducati, it'll be a hell of a fun ride to see him try to become the first to win with three different manufacturers.


Stoner -> Honda

Rossi -> Ducati

Spies -> FIAT Yamaha

What else can we expect to see?

Spies -> Yamaha

With Rossi leaving why would FIAT continue to sponsor Yamaha? Unless they have a 2011 contract already Yamaha better be looking for new sponsors now.

For some reason I think of this as a sad day. I really enjoyed watching ducati take it to the larger factories, even though I've owned nothing but hondas all my life.

I figured Casey would like to stick to the bike and team that supported him and allowed him to get all of his wins. I guess money talks.

Now I do indeed hope Rossi goes red and spanks the hell out of honda.

Perhaps overlooked in the magnitude of continental shifting to take place is the tacit declaration that The Grid would seem to be gaining a bike.  Barring financial tragedy at LCR, InterWetten MotoGP, or Gresini, a 3rd HRC bike makes a 7th Honda committed to the schedule.  This is interesting on 2 fronts:

First, it proves what is overlooked in all the technical machinations about rules; if there is a sponsor willing to pay, there is a factory will to build (and staff).  However, to draw top-sponsor financing, the bike must be good.

Second, this is quite a coup for HRC.  Not long ago, everyone was questioning their commitment to winning, and the sport in general.  When they announced an all-new bike for the 2010 season, and that all 6 riders would be starting with the same equipment, many saw this as some kind of surrender to the inevitable.  Save for the performance of Andrea Dovizioso, the season-opening race at Losail furthered that suspicion in many minds.

If the Stoners really did sign at Jerez, this demonstrates a rather fortuitous belief in the yet-unseen.  In just over 2 months, the Honda riders have steadily moved forward and, thanks to the new engine rules, seem poised to be in good positions for the remainder of this year.  It would certainly seem that a HRC ride in 2011 is a good place to be!

Something occured to me as I mulled this over this morning.

HRC is saying they are running 3 bikes and I agree that this sounds like a continuation of the renewed commitment we have seen from HRC but this seems like it could just be a negotiating tactic in sorting out the Pedrosa and Dovi contracts.

Is HRC's intention really to run 3 factory bikes or are they just holding that out there in order to prevent either of their current ri9ders from panicking?

--------------------------------------------- - MotoGP Data & Statistics

I believe, but may not have the language correct, that Dani has an automatic option to renew should he be 3rd or higher for the year and Dovi if he is 5th or higher in the championship. Currently they both have met this obligation and would be able to renew their contracts should they wish to.

Of course the season isn't over yet.

Also, Repsol is very much tied to Dani and I think they have extended their sponsorship for next year.

Someone do correct me if I am wrong. :)

Oh, speaking of which but a bit of a segue - did anyone see the report that Toseland has an "automatic" option to go back to MotoGP should he be 5th in the championship by Brno?? Meregalli on Gpone said as much but also that Crutchlow might be going to MotoGP. Oh, and Ducati, according to Ernesto Marinelli is eyeballing Edwards for the Xerox team.

The Silly is well into gear.

A bit disappointed, actually, even though for a while now it has seemed Stoner's days at Ducati were numbered -- the season has had that feel for a few weeks.

Enjoyed seeing him humble Rossi over the last few years, which he did better than anyone else ever has. Hope it works out for him at Honda, i.e. we'll be seeing more of the same.

Rossi to Ducati is now the next most logical change to happen. That would leave the three best (?) and most consistent 'aliens' on different, and potentially competitive (hope Suzukis is reading this), factory teams.


Honda: Stoner, Pedrosa, Dovizioso (?)
Yamaha: Lorenzo, Spies
Ducati: Rossi, Hayden (or maybe not...I get the impression they do not get along all that well).
Suzuki: Who cares...

Of the satellite outfits, what happens at Tech 3 will be the most interesting; Edwards may have real trouble holding onto his ride.

With tech 3 having at least one vacancy in the form of Spies, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a move for Elias or Iannone. There's a lot of chatter about Crutchlow, but honestly I don't think he's got the results to warrant a move to GP.

I suppose it might be a couple of seasons before we see any riders moving to the MotoGP class whom have never touched a real GP bike. Iannone had 5 seasons in 125 after all. And what I'm getting at with that comment is bike setup capability. After riding a Moto2 machine, will a rider be able to handle the complexity of setting up a GP machine?

How do you get the impression that Hayden and Rossi dont get along? Hayden was one of Rossi's favorite team mates, his mentor in Hayden's first year 2003 and was the first guy to tell Nicky congrats on winning in 2006. Rossi was a little miffed in 06 when Hayden was ahead during the season, but he doesnt dislike him in anyway. belive that VR going to Ducati is possible....

Is Rossi speeding his recovery to prove something to Ducati and get a better leverage on contract negotiations?

I´m a big VR fan & yamaha too, so i´ll be a bit sad with this divorce....

But for me, the deal" will be with J. Burgess. I think that he is the Key. if he doesn´t go to Ducati i´m not certain rossi will.

Anyway......I can´t wait to see a bright red / yellow bike :) Hell....I would like to see Rossi bring Kawasaki back to life!

For those that infer Stoner has been taking it easy for the last few races you do the man a disservice. He is a world champion professional racer. He will ride the GP10 with 100% of his abilities until the seasons end. Casey rather likes winning and I dare say he is desperate for the taste of champagne again. This would also be his primary motivation for moving to Honda. 18 months of planning / infastructure laying and Honda have landed their big fish. Now Casey has the front end back the way he likes it expect fireworks from him on the big red machine for the remainder of the season though.

An interesting comparison with MCN who obviously are also running this headline. Where David says 'being incredibly fast, but prone to crashing' and then goes on to explain why with the dodgy Michelin fronts. MCN just stop with 'being incredibly fast, but prone to crashing' to describe Caasey's LCR days on the RCV! ha ha - tabloid journalism.

I want to see Casey take HRC back to their winning ways.

More bad news this morning. I guess the writing was on the wall for a while now but I did my best to hope it wasn't true. MotoGP is funny, why the hell would you have your contract signing period IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SEASON!!!! It's like THE most counter-productive thing. Could you imagine if LeBron James signed with the heat 30 games into this past season? Well, the Cavs probably wouldn't make the playoffs! Why would you want to win a Championship for a team that didn't give you what you wanted?
I'm kinda at a loss, Stoner was my favorite rider but Duc's are my favorite bikes. Now who do I root for? Ducati or Stoner? haha. Stoner's attitude always entertained me and seeing video clips of him passing other riders in practice just shaking his head at them like "Get out of the way! You and your satelite bike are slowing me down" hahaha too funny.
Call me what you will but I'm not all that excited about Rossi going to Ducati. I don't know why, I'm sure it will be incredibly exciting and if Rossi can do for Ducati what he did for Honda and Yamaha it will be another jewel on his crown. After he wins the championship for ducati he should switch to Suzuki and win one for them... then convince Kawasaki to come back and win one for them... then get Ilmor back...

Anyway MotoGP needs to fix this contract business, you could tell Stoner's been doggin it. I'm sure its tough logistically but make it so it starts in the off season but to give them enough time for winter testing. Makes no sense to have a guy riding a machine YOU KNOW has already made other plans.

"Stoner was my favorite rider but Duc's are my favorite bikes"
So now he has signed to Honda you go to bash him,i'll never understand this kind of behaviour.

Thats not it at all. I'm not bashing Stoner I'm just extremely dissappointed that my favorite rider isn't on my favorite bike anymore. This is heartbreaking! Ducati should have done what they could have to keep him. He was the one shining light the manufacturer ever had! The ONLY guy to ever successfully ride the Ducati. If it sounds like I'm bashing him its only cause I'll be so sad to see him go. I'm one of Casey's biggest supporters! And what if I WAS bashing him? When star players for your home team go to another team for whatever reason $$$ doesn't that get people to start bashing them? But thats not even what I'm doing. He'll still be my favorite rider.

Maybe Ducati was giving him a nudge to leave. You know, making room. ;-)

I knew it was comming.As a Ducati rider for the past 35 years,I'm really disappointed with them.I was not impressed when they gave Loris the boot,which I felt was way too soon.But, to sit idly by while Honda gobble up your greatest rider asset, is plain stupid.
Mind you the writing was on the wall when they stood by and let Suppo walk, then Tardozzi, and see where its got them.All they have to do now is watch Preziosi roll off to Aprilia.
Obviously they've put all their faith in the Rossi magic and thereby,all their eggs in one ageing basket with a test rider in a managerial position.Brilliant long term vision!!!
As for Casey to Honda, I do wish him all the very best and will miss him in red.
Ah yes,Casey,vengeance is a dish best served cold.
No pressure on him to do anything for the rest of the season other than stay intact,have fun and 'duff up' the doctor.
The sad truth is that although Casey,like all of them, wants to win,he will be mindfull of messy battles with Dovi and Dani. Net result, don't expect many 'go for broke' racing from Casey for the rest of the season,he will merely play each race on its merits.
As for 2011,I anticipate a great battle between the 3 Hondas and the 2 Yamahas of Jorge and Ben.
I'm getting ahead of myself,we are not even half way 2010.
Look forward to Sachsenring and this weekend's SBK Brno round.

you're forgetting that the gp10 has made it possible for new riders, some practically rookies, to do considerably better than before. this trend will continue. ducati *does* have good young talent. aleix espargaro. hector barbera. sure, they're happy to finish in the top ten right now, but you can be sure they're going to get faster.

if rossi does go to ducati, it'll be a formidable team. someone suggested nicky and vale don't like each other - that has not been my impression at all. even after rossi lost the 2006 WC to hayden they remained friendly. nicky is the perfect second rider (sorry nicky fans) to a world champion and himself might surprise a lot of people by next year.

stoner is a one of a kind, and i am really looking forward to see how he fares on a factory honda.

I love all this rider switching, I think it is good for the sport - but I agree with deftjester, I really wish they would wait until the season is over. It really mucks up the current seasons racing because I don't care what is said - it WILL affect the effort of the newly signed riders on their current machines.

It will also increase the effort of the unsigned riders, a good thing, but unfortunately those riders will mostly be the satellite ones and may or may not get upgraded support by their current factory - depending on the (very complex and fluid) situation of sponsorship.

I love it - I just wish it occured over the winter where we fans really need the excitement - not during the season. PLEASE Dorna - can you exersise some sanctioning body restraint for goodness sake. I know it will always be done under the table but it shouldn't be allowed to affect the current years racing.

Politics and contracts should not be allowed to (even more so) advance an already unfair system of rider advantage and support.

are you serious? you want dorna/fim to now start governing the way contract negotiations are done and when they can be announced? i think that's an awful idea.

what's the difference anyway? the negotiations would happen anyway, just more clandestine, and the leaks would happen and we'd just have to wait longer for confirmation, is all.

the riders are part of a free market and it's up to the teams/riders (mostly teams, as they hold the contracts) to decide when to make announcements.

You're right popmonkey. I lost my head there for awhile. More rules aren't the answer. Sometimes my passion "in the moment" over rules my logic.

I just hate the fact that (I believe) this will have an affect on this years racing. Some won't agree on that but we all are allowed to have an opinion.

Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. (smile)

I don't see Stoner backing off and taking it easy at all. He wants to win races just as bad as any other top rider.

suggest that any of these extremely driven, focused, world championship winning racers would ever give less than 100%. I couldn't care less when personnel change announcements are made, it has no bearing whatsoever. This is not a kindergarten.

Most of the talent in GP has been riding since they were in diapers. Does anyone honestly think Casey is letting off to get a better look at Dovi or Spandroid's rear end? Casey wants to win, and will continue to do so (Don't forget what happened after he got his health back last year).

with the caveat that I think Ducati is a bit crazy to let him go. Yeah he is temperamental but who isn't in the paddock? Plus, he can ride that bike like nobody's business. He is not my fave but there have been times I was in absolute awe watching him ride that machine. Because of that I'm sorry to see him leave.

But mostly because I really, really, don't want Rossi to go to Ducati. Nothing against Ducati, I just like Rossi at Yamaha. Let Lorenzo go to Ducati (insert pout here). Of course seeing Spies move up will make the boo-boo go away.

I agree, no way is Casey Sandbagging. When he ran off track and screwed himself in Barcelona, I bet he wasn't sandbagging. Sandbagging is for practice sessions.

On the timing of the contract negotiations, not sure if this makes a whole lot of sense, but they start testing the day after the season ends. With that in mind, contract negotiations mid-season seem like they would be actually very logical. If I'm Honda, I want Casey testing the day after Valencia........on MY bike, if at all possible. Not waiting for a contract to be signed while all the winter test days disappear.

There is no way Ducati is going to let him test the Honda after the season is over. Don't forget, their contracts technically expire on December 31, 2010, so he is under contract with Ducati until that day. Its gonna be like after the 03 season when Rossi left Honda. They would not let him test the Yamaha until the beginning of 04.

Heck, it even happened this year when Vermeulen left MotoGP to go to SBK. Suzuki would not let him test the Kawasaki until his contract was up at the beginning of 2010.

Hayden tested the Ducati at Valencia before the 2009 calendar year. I think you are confusing the Vermeulen situation. He wasn't allowed to test/race the Kawasaki before the season was over. Same goes for JT who also wanted to test the Yamaha R1 early.

I don't think contracts all end on the same day. Sometimes they do and it is leverage on someone's part that was bought or sold by one party. Other times people are let out of their obligations early in the name of 'good will' (and some money or reciprocity is often involved). It's just business. If one was a representative of a company and they allowed a financial competitor to get an advantage with no compensation, it could be considered negligent from a shareholder point of view.

If the manufacture feels that it is detrimental to their team to let the exiting rider test their competition's bike then they wont let them test, end of story. Honda probably felt that letting Hayden test the Ducati would not hurt them (especially considering the fact that, at the time, the Ducati was seen as a career killer for anyone not named Stoner).

JT was signed to Tech 3 at the time. Colin was signed to Yamaha. Still, you're right that JT did test before the end of the MotoGP season. I believe Chris was there, but he was spectating.

"I think Ducati is a bit crazy to let him go."

Some interesting comments here but this one caught my eye.

Keep in mind that, while this is a sport for us, it's a business for the manufacturers. It's "well known" in the paddock that Stoner, while a great rider, really doesn't like to do the ancillary things a manufacturer needs/wants their riders to do - the "kissing babies' aspect of the sport/business.

Hayden *loves* it and does it very prominently in the US for Ducati. Rossi loves it and does it a lot for Yamaha. Look at the humorous videos Yamaha has produced with Rossi - seen any from Stoner/Ducati?

So from a Ducati business point of view, this is a perfect setup for them - they get the most popular rider in the world. They get an Italian and they get a guy who *likes* doing public relations for them. A guy *guaranteed* to sell bikes for Ducati.

For Ducati, this makes perfect sense for them and it's something they've wanted for a long time.

First,Valentino Rossi is still a Yamaha rider,and business part of this sport is important but the main part is the race track,from far far away.
How many times did you see hayden struggle with Edwards on tv during catalunya race ??Maybe 3 or 4 times
How long ? maybe 10/15 sec each time,maybe less...

A few of you guys are wondering about why Stoner and Honda announced so early in this season. For me, it goes back to mid season last year when the mysterious illness struck Casey down and how the entire thing was handled between Casey and Duc. If I remember correctly, Ducati (Marlboro) was a bit put off by Casey's comments and actions (sitting out races) and that makes me believe that this Honda deal has been in the works for some time now. This is just my opionion but I felt that Casey was going to leave after all that. It just looked like the beginning of the end of that me. So the way I see it, it wasn't early in this season. It was actually late from last year.

these early signing of contracts can cause a problem such as testing. take for example if Rossi signs for Duc which i hope he does, will Yamaha allow him to test their 2011 prototype?
Will Rossi get as much support as Jlo seeing he's heading for championship. would Yamaha want to give full support to De Doc and he leave with world title, i think not. Hope De Doctor develops Ducati chassis like he did for Yamaha. The red missile will then be a formidable beast in anyones hands especially the Doctors.
Stoner lacks chassis development skills that suit everyones riding style but his.

I have similar question on Post-Season Testing. When Vale left Honda, I think was barred from testing the Yamaha until after the winter ban (as he was still under Honda Contract). Yamaha and Ducati wouldn't seem to have an incentive to allow Rossi and Casey, respectively, test with their new employers equipt. (Who knows...maybe their contracts expire at midnight, November 7th -after last GP for 2010!).
Brings up thought...It would be a smart move for an Alien to negotiate his contracts to expire upon completion of last GP of opposed to say, December 31st of the year.
Unlikely, but still possible(?) What if Casey and Dani(or Dovi) end up swapping Factories?And thus, their "previous employers" would have had a mutual-incentive to gift waivers to both riders!

As a rule, contracts tend to run from January 1st to December 31st. Technically, this prevents riders from testing if they switch from one manufacturer to another, but it differs from case to case. When Rossi left Honda, he was prevented from testing until Jan 1st of the following year, as it was Rossi's choice to leave. When Hayden's contract with HRC expired, Honda allowed Hayden to test the Ducati in November, as they did not feel threatened by such a move.

Whether Ducati will allow Stoner to test the Honda is an open question, but you can be sure that Yamaha will not allow Rossi to test the Ducati in November when he leaves. Given the lack of testing time, though, it will not make a great deal of difference. There are only two days of testing after Valencia, the next test will probably be in Sepang in February 2011. So any ban on testing will have a limited effect.

If Rossi does announce his intention to sign with Ducati before Brno, then he will certainly not be allowed to test the 2011 version of the M1 after the race there. In fact, unless he has a contract with Yamaha signed (unlikely though that is), he will almost certainly be kept off the new M1 at Brno.

So it's not sure Casey will test his new bike the day after Valencia Race,maybe we'll have to wait the Sepang tests to see him,arff too long :(

"but you can be sure that Yamaha will not allow Rossi to test the Ducati in November when he leaves" For you it sounds like a done deal !?!

To me, that is a done deal. I think it may be announced in Germany, which is maybe why he's hurrying back. 

What if the reason because he wants to go back so soon is that next year he will be in Ferrari? I personally don't think so and I do agree with you that Ducati-Rossi is very likely but it is a doubt that crossed my mind...

I do not believe Valentino Rossi will ever race in Formula 1. He will drive the Ferrari F1 car several times, but never go and race. I see him racing in World Superbikes before going to F1. 

As everybody seems to have expected this move, I didn't. So it seems I'm also wrong with predicting that Dani would be the first to make the move away from HRC. Now it looks like he won't. But maybe Dani waits until Rossi has gone and signs with Fiat Yamaha, we'll see.

I have the impression an important piece is missing here with Casey, as others have already commented, if Casey has decided in spring to leave Ducati then something must have gone wrong badly somewhere last year. Remember 2009 (or was it 2008?) Casey stated that it "would be a long time that we (he and his father) would talk to Honda and Yamaha" because of the way they treated him in 2006.

I also don't see what will improve for him going to Honda (except perhaps the salary). Better bike? Better team? I'm sceptical. But then again, Casey is fast on everything.

And the thing with sandbagging: No, I don't see this. Casey crashed 2 x this year riding his heart out, no, this doesn't fit into the picture. Just look at the last 2 races and check the places of the other Ducati riders, it's the normal Casey-Alien + mortal Ducati riders situation again. This unstoppable confidence of 2007 I'm missing in Casey this year, but everything else is there.

Arrivabene at Marlboro called Casey out in the press for missing races over a stomach ache. They basically let it be known that they didn't want Casey on the team anymore and they sent out Suppo to hire someone else for 2010.

When Casey came back and dominated (until the Valencia mishap) Suppo was smug with the press saying that he had made the right decision about Stoner. It insinuated (to me) that Suppo and Arrivabene had gone to war behind the scenes about Stoner's abilities and that Ducati had stood fast behind Casey Stoner.

Unfortunately for Ducati, Suppo left for Honda (I don't remember if it was announced before or after the sickness blow up). After Suppo left, there was nothing keeping Stoner at Ducati b/c they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by Marlboro.

... just some bad blood with the sponsor. I thought last year that his impressive form at the end of the season would quieten all those voices.

Well, perhaps you're right.

Casey's performance might have changed Marlboro's mind, but it was too late. Casey was never going to hang around without Suppo to stand up for him.

That was a landmark race for the field and you got the feeling something special was afoot. For some time he made everyone look slow. It took a while for the rest of the factories to catch up in terms of speed but once they have he's still there at the front. The Stoner-Ducati Era will be remembered as a significant stage of competition in the league.

I'd like to see some of that Red Bull livery like the old WCM team or the Jonathan Rea BSB bike. Even with Dovisio's connection, I'd rather see Stoner or Pedrosa in the red and blue.

I seriously doubt there is any agenda in Stoner's move other than trying to win more races and hopefully WCs. I am fairly sure that he will do his best for the rest of the season for Ducati as a mark of loyalty to his employer and genuine friendship within the team - I believe his comments are entirely honest.

However, the Ducs have not kept pace with the development of Honda and the Yams - once a bike capable of winning anywhere, though needing great skills to actually do that - they are now only just podium contenders if ridden right at the point of crashing for the whole race. There also seem to be issues of team 'reliability' - too often they've been sent out (and not just with Stoner) in less than perfect race-worthy condition, with silly details overlooked. That sort of thing erodes a rider's confidence.

That said - if Duc can put a bike capable of winning a race on the grid this season, I expect Stoner will ride for the win every time. Personally I'm sad to see him leave - there seems to be some strange deep connection between Aussie riders and Ducatis - Stoner and Bayliss between them have given, I suspect, more WC's (and possibly wins) to Ducati than any other nationality. However, this move certainly opens up more interest for next year.

I understand Stoner going to HRC, but not Rossi to Ducati.
Why would a 31 year old go to a new team? By the start of next season he will be 32. Give him a year to sort out the mess that Stoner has left the Ducati in, thats 33. Assuming all goes well, be in with a shout at the title when he's 34.

Not many 34 year olds are capable of running with a pack of brats at that level.
Add to that, GB wants to retire as soon as Rossi does. Will He really go to Ducati with Rossi... will Ducati have him?

In a perfect world, Rossi would want to stay on the Yamaha to beat Lerenzo on the same machinery and retire at the top, but the world aint perfect.
Lets see Rossi stay where he is and Pedrosa or Spies go to Ducati:-))

Stoner leaving the Ducati in a mess? I didn't realise he was the chief engineer and mechanic as well. No offence meant but you're dreaming! Look at what he has been able to do on a bike that has been a beast for others to ride. Besides all that goes out the window in 2012 when the rules change again. The timing to move into a new team is perfect for all of them. They will get a full year to be involved in the early development of the 2012 bikes before having to ride them competitively. lt wouldn't matter where Rossi was he'd still have to do that anyway. He will have weighed the risks and figured out that it is a great opportunity to become Mega GOAT by moving

I know its said to be a done deal but didn't Rossi have a problem a few years ago with Camel sponsorship being a tobacco co so how is he going to be on a Marboro Duc, unless it becomes a Fiat Duc, I have no idea how the corporate structure is in Italy but in superbikes Max is "flying" on the Air Italia Aprillia, will be interesting to see what happens, as for casey he will give his best whatever bike he is on.
That is what all pro riders so!!!

This Honda move was done last year!
Before the 9th of December 2009 ( maybe have even been before then i will look on my old pc later)
David will remeber an insider email i sent him last year telling him of the top secret info Stoner to Honda 2011.

What form of crack are you on? This 'mess of a Ducati' that Casey is leaving behind for Vale to sort out has won 20 GP's and has a few more to add to that tally this season yet. What nonsense. This is not a gamble of the same magnitude as Rossi's Yamaha move. There'll be sorting to do for sure, but it's not the clean piece of paper start 2004 was. Rossi after all has the second best right wrist in the business. He'll be just fine!

Then why can no other bugger ride it! Hayden is not the crap rider it makes him out to be and the satellite teams are nowhere.
Is it JUST tailored for Stoner? If so, that needs to be undone.
Maybe the "clean piece of paper" would be preferable.

And Hayden is not one of them, yet he's had a series of fourths on the Ducati. Loris did win on it too you know! Seems pretty rideable for a MotoGP class jockey to me!

Well as far as this argument goes Hayden may not be a "alien" but he has won a championship heads up over Rossi which not many can say, including Pedrosa and in my humble opinion means more than just the title of being an "alien". Also the Ducati has at one point beaten Rossi for a title so I think it can be developed into a championship bike. I really thought Rossi was intending to stay loyal to Yamaha...but if this year he feels that he can not beat Jorge on the same bike consistently then he could only try to seek an advantage by being on another machine. Besides a bigger paycheck from Ducati and the whole Italian on an Italian bike maybe that would be his biggest motivation to go to Ducati.

Agree that Hayden aint crap (been a fan since 1999), but he also isn't an Alien....nor are the other poor "buggers." I love having Nicky on a Duc, but wonder where he and Ben ("this one goes to 11") Spies would each stand if Nicky had magically started the 2010 season on Colin's Tech III machine (or...vise versa). I think, on equal equipment, Ben (not an Alien....Yet), would surpass Nicky.

Capirossi never had it easy with the Duke in the 990's era. If you read Nicky's comments from this year about the bike, it's still difficult to setup and ride, but not as difficult as it has been.

The argument that the GP07 - GP10 are all tailored just for Casey is comming up again and again. And nearly everytime out of the fan base of one particular ageing legend. Just like the respectless "Computer Kid" Stoner nickname came from the same corner.

Both are most probable wrong.

2007 Casey was just a stopgap, Loris was the Nr. 1 rider at least the first couple of races. So if Ducati tailored something, it was to Loris likings.

2008 and 2009 Ducati feverishly tried to not look as crappy as they did and to not lose the sponsors by improving the bike for the "Non-Stoners".

From the comments of several Ducati riders one can conclude that the GP10 is the most "rideable" Duke they had the pleasure to ride on, so once again no Stoner bike.

I personally am looking forward to see Casey on the Honda in that respect that I'm curious whether the bike has any essential effect on his performance at all. Many believe that it doesn't really matter what Casey is riding (as long as it is not a Suzuki), he can win with everything. If that is true, than this is also the most serious weakness of Casey, because this ability will cover design flaws and hence development might just not be advancing enough.

Ducati wont start from zero with a new bike for Vale. Why? Because it took them years to get the concept of their GPXX to the level they are now. Filippo Preziosi stated many times at the presentation of a new GPXX that they made just evolving steps to preserve the positive things of previous bikes. If they start from zero, in 2011 Vale will race a bike with lots of "bugs" to fix.

If you remember, the Ducati was actually built around the new Bridgestone front tire. The new hard front suited Casey Stoner who was still fresh from the 250 class, while Capirossi had issues with it. I don't think the bike was built around Stoner by any means, but when it was clear that the tire was to his liking, I believe development shifted in his favor b/c everyone understood the new tire had much higher performance potential in the new 21L era than the outgoing 990 front tires which were about braking feel and control.

Developing the bike around the Bridgestone front tire proved to be a mistake b/c it brought political ramifications. The cost of tires and the growth of cornerspeed caused Dorna to intervene. During 2007 they had 3 or 4 emergency technical meetings (much like the formula meetings of today) to hash out the tire issues and find a way to continue the tire war (safely) since the pole had showed a 50/50 split amongst the fans regarding the control tire.

In the end I think Bridgestone and Michelin brokered a deal to keep the tire war going by specifying front tire construction. They both have knowledge and experience related to specifying carcass construction b/c they did it in F1 to keep the tire war alive as well. Long story short, Stoner's front tire went missing in 2008 and Ducati (as well as Yamaha) turned the bike upside down during the first half of 2008 trying to make it work with the new Bridgestone front. Yamaha won the development race and the rest is history. Suzuki suck now. Kawasaki withdrew after an embarrassing season. Ducati have lost their edge. Honda have been reluctant to develop around the Bridgestones. Yamaha have reigned supreme.

Casey wasn't from the 250's in 2007, he had 1 year with LCR Honda in MotoGP in 2006 behind him.

Ducati had Bridgestone as tyre maker since 2004 (??) so they (Bridgestone) progressed their development along the years with Ducati being the most important and successive bike brand for Bridgestone until 2007. So what was so special in 2007 about another development step with the tires? And why do you think Casey benefited most of it?

Dorna intervened in 2007 because of corner speed? Have you a link to some background reading?

Interesting story about 2008. Have you any links?

The 2003 M1 wasn't as bad as you make out.. Max took it to third that year with nine podium, including two wins. With eleven races left and Stoner boasting only two third places to date the GP10 is in danger of, statistically, being a bigger gamble than Rossi had back in 2004..
Oh and out of interest who has the best right wrist? I thought the "new breed" just cracked the throttle and let the electronics sort the rest..I'd love to see them on an old 500.

the rossi legend has overshadowed some of the truth. the amazing thing was winning the first race on a new bike at welkom. but the yamaha M1 was no slouch. in fact, in addition to biaggi's wins in 2003 rossi was beaten by teammate checa at lemans in 2004. what the yamaha needed the most was a consistently great rider. clearly they got that with rossi. and in 2005 the bike was equal if not better than all the other manufacturers. it wasn't until 2006 that things went a bit astray with the chatter problems (and some toni elias action :D)

i'm not trying to devalue rossi's accomplishment in 2004, it was epic. but it was not as crazy of a move as people made it out to be. the ducati move might be trickier because it's unclear how much control rossi and jb get over development (remember they got 100% factory supported control over the M1 in 2004). my guess is that ducati will give rossi/jb a carte blanche with regards to the GP11 as part of the deal.

it was 2002 i was thinking about. the M1 had only a decent showing from checa in 2003. so ya, certainly looking at 2003 the M1 looked like a crap bike. in fact the newcomers, ducati, faired much better with capirex and bayliss that year.

I think you'll find Biaggi was saddled up on a Camel Honda in '03. Who says the drugs don't work!

2003 was very much the culmination of a project gone wrong for Yamaha. The early generation M1's were too fickle and had various fundamental engineering flaws. Only with bags of cash and a clean sheet of paper did Furusawa and his team of engineers give Vale and his team the tools to contend / win 2004.

A more empirical view than mere results would indicate that Casey has been fast on the GP10 this year, yet for various reasons he hasn't put it all together. Now that he's solved his little front end issue and has all this contract drama out the way I think we'll start to see a free thinking, free wheeling winning Casey and Ducati once more.

my apologies..
I was looking at the 03 results without even checking his mount as I was convinced from memory..and mine indeed seems impaired, that he was on an M1, anyway as I was saying I was looking at the 03 results without even checking his mount..oh dear, pass me that crack pipe..

For the sake of some interesting racing at the front, I hope you are proved correct about the resurgence of Stoner.

Good catch. The 2003 M-1 looked great in pre-season testing that season with Barros on it and went on to, I believe, one podium the whole year at LeMans. It WAS a crap bike. The 2002, which Max and Chucker were on, won a couple races. It couldn't have been crap if it won 2 races.

I'm quite sad to see Casey go, specially because he was the main reason for me to become a Ducatista. Casey Stoner is the only rider ever to completely outrace Vale for a whole season. I don't think Casey got enough credit from this amazing feat, as many discussed electronics and tyres instead of praising Stoner's incredible talent. Sure Nicky also beat him fair and square in 2006, but it was not in such dominant fashion.

I'm sure Stoner will do great at Honda and pairing with Pedrosa HRC will have a very strong team. I have strong mixed feelings because I love Ducati, but Casey Stoner is my favourite rider, so perhaps I'll wear my Ducati gear during races while I support the aussie rider extraordinaire.

What strikes me a lot is the cold reception Vale is getting from Ducatisti worldwide. I know it's not a done deal, but I see more Ducati fans sad to see Casey go, than happy to see Vale arrive, which is odd because his credentials are absolutely unique.

I like Vale also, but I've enjoyed the fact that a small team like Ducati, with a "nobody" from Australia smashed Yamaha and a multiple world champion. With VR46 onboard, the underdog winning taste is gone.

Casey, if you're reading this (I've always thought Stoner is an MM reader) thanks for the great Ducati years and good luck at HRC.

Every body forgets that Rossi won so many races as the tyres that he had on his bike where just for him and the track...
He would start slow run around in 6th or so and then half way in to the race take off as his tyres come on and the rest of the guys started to struggle..
Bayliss used to take off and lead until his tyres went off and still he tired to re pass Rossi every time. He even made comments a few times about it, if only he had rossi's tyres there would have been a race of it.

I think Casey, the way he likes to work without distraction other than being on the track, would actually like the wall between himself and whoever in HRC. Not to say he would be the kind to suggest a wall, but in this case, the wall had already been erected before he started in the team.

If he ends up being the lone rider in Red Bull, would he have the whole garage to himself or actually have to share with the Repsol riders?

Stoner certainly hasn't indicated any need for a wall - in fact it is a frequent comment from all the Duc riders that data is freely exchanged not just within the factory team but across the board. Hayden has commented that he talks with Stoner a fair bit and they discuss riding tips - just that it doesn't always help since they have fairly different styles. I think it was Canepa who commented that looking at Stoner's data, Stoner was on the power something like 20 metres earlier in some corners and he couldn't understand how Stoner could do that. Guintoli also was in some awe of Stoner's ability to ride the bike he couldn't come to real grips with.

Just about all the top riders have a way of isolating themselves when they need to concentrate. There is a wonderful insight into Hailwood from a very close friend about his pre-race behaviour - he would be quite gregarious (for a chronically shy guy) until he wanted his space, when he would go sit in the back of the pit and polish his goggles (yep, that's how long ago it was!) which was the sign for everybody to leave him alone. You can see from the pit shots of Stoner in his helmet, with his eyes totally in the riding zone, when he has retreated into race space. He doesn't need a wall - he has a completely portable, self-generated one that comes into play only when he needs it.

Stoner's persona has always been one of strong self-belief that he can ride faster than anybody else on equal machinery and his first competitor is himself - when he feels he has ridden the best possible race, regardless of the finishing position, he is happier than when he has not met his own expectations of himself.

CS is smart to join HRC. He'll win another title there and may even prove dominant. I think Ducati is a poorly managed team and their bike is a nail. Rossi would be smart to stay away. He's probably won his last title anyways. What is the buzz around RdP? Certainly he deserves a better ride.

I see the reasons for Casey moving to Honda as being a combination of the following (in no particular order):
1. Marlboro giving him a hard time when he was ill.
2. Livio Suppo now being at Honda.
3. $$
4. The insulting amount of cash Marlboro/Ducati were willing to throw at Lorenzo or VR, but not give to him.
5. He will probably have very little PR work required of him at Honda.
6. I believe Casey/Ducati won (convincingly) in 2007 for 3 reasons - one was Stoner's abilities, secondly was the Bridgestones, and thirdly because Ducati caught the Japanese manufacturers with their pants down, development-wise. They won't let that happen again, so for this reason, I think Stoner believes he has more chance of winning another title on either a Honda or a Yamaha. He's probably right, too.

I think he's great - he's a straight shooter and takes no prisoners. Go get 'em, kid.

Racing at the top level in world means that you have had a very successful racing career or you would not even be close to racing in MotoGP. To get to this level you have proved to yourself, and the world, that you are one of the very best at racing a motorcycle.

A racer does not get to this level without the key ingredient to a successful career...the unbelievable inner will to win races. It is the thing that separates racers from riders. You don't get to this level in motorcycling by riding cautiously or settling for second get there because of your desire to pass everyone else on the race track with you, on a given day.

Racing really means only one thing...winning. How many people (other than die hard fans of a particular racer) remember who got second place. Not many, it's the winner who most everyone remembers!

If you have never raced, (at any level) you have no idea how that inner drive to win affects you. In MotoGP, or any other race, you will always have just one winner, everything else doesn't really matter to the true racer. From mini-bike racers to the elite of the world, that will to win is what keeps you racing. If you don't have it you will never be very successful at racing. Even to amateur racers that just say they race for fun, they really want to is hell to get beat.

Of course with the salaries these racers are paid and the importance of the world title to your employer there comes into play the term "point racing". A racer hates that aspect of his job, a real racer cannot stand to see anyone in front of him. But a factory rider getting a huge salary must do whatever it takes to win a title. Inside the mind of a racer the decision to have to settle for second or third place is a very (very - very - very) painful ordeal. But the lure of the mighty dollar (euro, etc.) is also mighty powerful and for most racers it must come into play.

We have all seen Valentino risk a championship to win a race...the reason is simple. He is a racer. Another racer who is not a Rossi might settle for second or third (whatever) to win a title, that does not mean it is not a really tough position to be in, or decision to make.

So, all of this talk about racers "taking it easy for the rest of the season" (while probably true, for some) is pure a racer that last lap pass (Rossi on Jorge at Barcelona), or even a courageous mid race pass (Rossi on Stoner at Laguna Seca) is a racers natural reflex, something that is embedded deep in the mind of the great ones. Being second is better than a DNF is the thinking of team bosses, not the real racer.

If you have never seen On Any Sunday, (shame on you) watch it, it is a great movie! There is a very emotional scene with Gene Romero's thoughts on racing - and winning. Watch it and you should be able to get a feeling about how a real racer thinks.

He doesn't need a lot more money and to ride (and win, of course) for an Italian company should make him very proud. At one time I thought about trying to figure out how to get the Italian fans to back a national campaign to have everyone that could, send in a few Euros and that could be his paycheck for riding a Ducati.

If it were to happen I think he would still be very well paid (maybe even get a raise), and think how happy everyone of his Italian fans would be. ROSSI ON AN ITALIAN BRAND!!!!

The other alternate would be for him to ride a Ducati for free...think about what a statement that would make. I am sure his popularity would rise a great deal in Italy (if possible)! And he can afford to do it.

Maybe this is all a pipe dream, but I'll bet the response to either situation would be stupendous!