Photo Courtesy of Ducati
Casey Stoner was at Phillip Island for the official MotoGP test but absent on track.
The drama between Ducati and Casey Stoner continues. As expected, the Australian rider—I was going to write ex-rider, but if there is someone who doesn’t fit that description, it’s the Australian—did not test in Phillip Island. A decision that is somewhat confusing considering that if there was a circuit on which Stoner could thoroughly assess the new Ducati, it would be Phillip Island.
“The information that Casey [Stoner] gave the engineers was very detailed,” Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati team manager told us in Australia. “In Sepang, he rode the GP15, a motorcycle for which we have a lot of data, so we could match the data up with what he was telling us.”
“With his talent and his ability to ride fast,” continued Ciabatti, “the engineers were able to gather interesting information. His comments were almost identical to those from Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] and [Andrea] Iannone. It was an interesting development from a test rider, because he was able to ride the bike to the maximum.”
I don’t know about you, but to me this last sentence seems like a torpedo in the water pointing straight at their current riders. And if anyone had any doubts, Ciabatti then stated: “We know that the bike has great potential, which Casey has endorsed; even if it is last year’s bike. Now we have to work on the new bike.”
If it’s time to work on the new bike, it is not necessarily implied that Stoner is not lined up to ride at Phillip Island, right? Casey won’t test in Australia, but … he will be at the circuit! “He will be with the team in boxes and go to the track to see the drivers,” reported Ciabatti.
Photo Courtesy of Ducati
Casey Stoner laid down some competitive times amongst the MotoGP regulars at the Sepang test, having many chomping at the bit to see Stoner’s return to racing.
But the best of this mixed-up story is yet to come, regarding the thread of the research on the new GP16, Ciabatti then dropped: “Casey will run the new bike at Losail on the sixth and seventh of March, just after the completion of the official test.” Just two weeks—the minimum allowed—before the World Championship event at the same track.
“There is no plan for Casey to race again,” exclaimed the Ducati manager. “But if we asked him to do so, something that has not happened thus far, would decide together what would be the best scenario and the best time to do it.”
I must confess that if in the end Stoner does not race in the Qatar Grand Prix on March 20, it will be a big disappointment. It’s true that Stoner has repeatedly claimed both directly and indirectly that racing again is not in his plans, but, excuse me, when someone denies his intention to retire at a press conference, and two weeks later the cover of Solo Moto announces his retirement, I have a hard time believing anything…The doubts will soon be resolved.