Casey Stoner will not be making any public appearances on the Ducati Desmosedici any time soon. Although the Australian has been formally announced as test rider for Ducati, he will not be riding at the official tests at Sepang at the beginning of February.
Speaking to Italian website GPOne.com, Ducati MotoGP boss Davide Tardozzi said "There are still some details to arrange, but for sure, Stoner will do his first test in Malaysia, before the first official test." Stoner will test alongside Ducati's long-time official test rider Michele Pirro, where he will give the Desmosedici GP16 its first run out. The Australian did the same thing at the beginning of 2015 for Honda, testing the RC213V ahead of the official test in early February.
The most important thing for Ducati was not that Stoner should be fast from the off, but that he should get used to the feel of the bike, and work his way towards being as fast as possible. "We don't want to force him too soon," Tardozzi told GPOne, "but when you can push at the limit as we know he can, his feedback will be very important to us. We are organizing a few tests with him so that he can understand the bike and get his confidence back."
Stoner is likely to be in Italy some time soon, however. Ducati are trying to arrange for him to visit the factory in Bologna, so that they can measure him up for a bike, and figure out where the footrests, seat, handlebars and tank need to be. Getting the seating position and dimensions right on the new bike is crucial, but Stoner also has a few more details of the contract to finalize. All of this is likely to be finalized before Christmas, Stoner still having a house in Switzerland, and possibly combining a skiing vacation with a trip to Bologna.
What Stoner's program will be after Sepang is unknown. Ducati are likely to have private tests for the test team at Jerez and Mugello, and the test team will likely be active ahead of the official tests at Phillip Island in the middle of February and at Qatar in early March. There is still no word on whether Stoner will do any wild cards, but if he does, the Phillip Island round is the most likely place for that to happen.