Official: Casey Stoner ends Ducati partnership
Ducati confirms agreement with former MotoGP champion Casey Stoner will not continue beyond this year.
As rumoured since August, former MotoGP champion Casey Stoner will not continue as a test rider and brand ambassador for Ducati in 2019.
“I want to thank Ducati for the great memories and especially the support and enthusiasm of the Ducati fans for our shared passion for racing and motorcycling, I’ll always remember this,“ said Stoner, whose three-year deal has come to an end.
“Over the past three years I have really enjoyed doing my job with the test team, the engineers and technicians, as we worked towards improving the Desmosedici GP package and I sincerely want to wish the team all the very best for their future endeavours.”
Earlier this season, Stoner – who underwent shoulder surgery after January’s Sepang test – cast doubt on his Ducati future by suggesting his feedback wasn’t being listened to, while paddock rumours indicated that Alberto Puig was hoping to tempt the Australian back to Honda.
After retiring at the end of 2012 with 38 MotoGP wins and a world title for both Ducati and Honda, Stoner initially helped Honda with some testing duties before a headline-grabbing return to Ducati, where he has bolstered the work of regular development rider Michele Pirro since 2016.
The Italian factory, which had been winless from Stoner’s departure at the end of 2010, took two MotoGP victories in 2016, six in 2017 and six so far in 2018.
Stoner’s most recent Ducati test was at Sepang in January, just before undergoing major shoulder surgery on an old injury.
Ducati praised Stoner, 33, for helping improve its MotoGP machine to become arguably the most competitive bike on the grid, while also providing input for the ‘final development’ of the new Panigale V4 Superbike.
“Casey is and will always remain in the hearts of Ducatisti and it is also on their behalf that we wish to thank him for the important collaboration he has offered us over the last three years,” said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
“His technical indications and suggestions, together with the work and the feedback of the factory riders and Michele Pirro, have helped to make the Desmosedici GP one of the most competitive bikes on the grid, and his advice for the development of our production bikes has been just as precious and useful.
“Ducati and its many fans wish to offer their sincere thanks and their best wishes to Casey and his family for a serene and happy future.”
The Australian proved he had lost none of his legendary speed by leading the full-time MotoGP field on the opening day of Sepang testing in 2017.
It now remains to be seen if Stoner has ridden his last MotoGP lap, or will decide to continue testing for another manufacturer.
Source: Peter McLaren @ MotoGP via Crashnet.