Ducati have confirmed that they offered two-time MotoGP World Champion, Casey Stoner, the opportunity to make a return to MotoGP racing at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi as a replacement for the injured Andrea Iannone, but the Australian declined the offer.
Iannone has been ruled out of the Motegi race due to not recovering enough from the fractured T3 vertebrae he suffered during a free practice crash in Misano last month. The Italian has also missed the Misano and Aragon Grand Prix' and was hoping to be ready for Motegi.
Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, who has stood on for Iannone in the last two races, will not be available as he is in Valencia busy testing the 2017 Ducati Desmosedici, which has opened the door for second test rider Stoner to make a possible return to racing, alongside Andrea Dovizioso.
In an interview with Italian website corsedimoto.com, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti confirmed the Stoner news.
“We gave Stoner the chance to replace Andrea, but he declined,” said Ciabatti, who added that they had not totally ‘closed the door’ on Stoner racing again quite yet.
Ciabatti hinted that if Iannone was still unable to compete at next weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, Stoner may be tempted to accept a wild-card at his home grand prix.
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“First we have to wait and see if Andrea recovers, and then we’ll see what we do if he doesn’t,” said Ciabatti.
“Initially Casey had no intention to return to the paddock until the final race in Valencia. But maybe since it’s Australia he will change his mind, I don’t know.”
In his racing days, the 30-year-old Stoner was virtually unbeatable at the Phillip Island Circuit winning every race from 2007 until 2012, when he retired and was also the last Ducati rider to have won in Australia.