Casey Stoner is to continue as test rider for Honda in 2014. The Australian double world champion will once again take the track to help develop Honda's RC213V during the 2014 season, according to British publication MCN.
Stoner took up his role as test rider in the middle of 2013, after HRC's regular test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi broke his femur at a Japanese Superbike round. The Australian worked on the 2013 RC213V, as well as a rain-shortened test on Honda's RCV1000R production racer.
According to the report on MCN, Stoner's testing schedule for 2014 has yet to be fixed. It appears that Stoner will not be present at the special tire test put on by Bridgestone at Phillip Island, which all three factory teams will attend, but he will take on further testing duties at Motegi later in the season. If Stoner does miss the Phillip Island test, it would deprive fans of a chance to directly compare his lap times with those of current Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner's continuing role as a test rider will once again fuel speculation he could make a return to racing again full time at some point. Various extremely well-informed sources in Spain insist that Honda are preparing for a possible return by the Australian at an indeterminate point in the future. However, sources close to Stoner himself insist that the Australian has no intention whatsoever of coming back to race in MotoGP, and is still happy with his decision to quit. In an interview with the BBC in October, Stoner said he was more and more convinced he'd made the right decision. Each year that passes makes it more difficult for Stoner to return. The keen edge developed by actually racing a MotoGP bike is quickly lost when not racing. Furthermore, Stoner will be 29 at the start of the 2015 season, and would be facing a 22-year-old Marquez with two years of experience under his belt. That will not stop the speculation that he could return, but given his continued denials, the odds of a return seem impossibly remote.
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