Honda tests spark Stoner rumours

Written By Unknown on Senin, 22 Juli 2013 | 23.40

Stoner has been driving in the second tier of the V8 Supercars. Source: Supplied

MOTORCYCLE great Casey Stoner will become the world's fastest test rider when he makes a dramatic return to MotoGP in a series of private sessions with Honda.

The return to bikes has fuelled speculation that Stoner is set to make wildcard race appearances this season.

The two races at the centre of the rumours are the Australian and Japanese Grands Prix in October.

Stoner, 27, will end his nine-month retirement from MotoGP at the Motegi circuit in Japan next week with a two-day test aboard Honda's world championship winning RC213V.

He will rejoin the Honda team in Japan on August 6-7.

Honda has confirmed that Stoner will ride a prototype of its 2014 model being readied for next season in a clear effort to strengthen its championship campaign.

Stoner retired at the peak of his career last November having won two MotoGP world championships and 38 races.

He switched to the second-tier V8 Supercars series this year but has now agreed a deal that will see him complete four Honda test sessions before the end of the season.

Stoner admitted he had missed the thrill of two wheels but was "still happy" with his decision to stop full-time bike racing.

"But there are times when I miss riding my RC213V so I am really happy that Honda have asked me to do some testing in Motegi this year," Stoner said.

"It will allow me to enjoy what I miss which is riding a MotoGP bike."

A spokesman for the Honda Racing Corporation said that wildcard race appearances were not part of the plan.

"There have been rumours of a wildcard races for Casey but this is out of the question,'' HRC team principal Livio Suppo said.

But Stoner's return to a full-scale test program with Honda, which could be as many as eight days across four appearances, is more than riding just for fun.

Crucially Honda want Stoner's assessment of its RC213V which is locked in a tense struggle with Yamaha for this year's world championship.

Honda rookie Marc Marquez leads the championship after his third win from nine races in the US Grand Prix.

Yamaha contender Jorge Lorenzo, who has ridden for a month with a triple fracture in his left collarbone, is 26 points behind in third place.

"With testing you always want a fast rider but maybe Casey is too much," Suppo said.

"When you have a new bike it is good to have a test rider who can really push the limit before you give the bike to the factory riders.

"If you do something you do it properly which is why HRC have agreed with Casey come and do a series of four test sessions in Japan."

Honda MotoGP boss Shuhei Nakamoto is delighted that Stoner will again work with Honda saying the talented Australian rider "woke up our engineers" during his two years with the company.

Stoner won the 2007 world championship with Ducati and his second title in his first season with Honda in 2011.

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