Casey Stoner’s factory Honda crew could be heading back to Ducati in 2013 to work with Andrea Dovizioso.
Talks are on-going about the Australian’s crew, led by Italian Cristian Gabbarini, moving back to the Ducati factory they left at the end of 2010 when Stoner joined Repsol Honda.
Stoner, who is currently out of action with a serious right ankle injury, will retire at the end of the season though HRC management has expressed a desire to keep some if not all of his crew to help rookie Marc Marquez’s transition from Moto2 to MotoGP.
But with Valentino Rossi certain to take his entire technical crew from Ducati back to Yamaha next season, the opportunity has emerged for Gabbarini and the rest of Stoner’s crew to work with Dovizioso on a Desmosedici GP13.
Dovizioso has signed a two-year deal to join Ducati from the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad and he confirmed that talks had taken place with Stoner’s crew during yesterday’s MotoGP test at Brno.
He told MCN: “This is one thing we have talked about and everything is important in a factory team. I don't know if they will be my team and we have time to work on this. Who will be in the crew is really important to me but who makes the race is not the mechanics, so we have to think about many people. We have to fix the mechanics but what is really important is to organise with Ducati and Audi the people on the top like the engineers. This is one thing we are working on.”
Gabbarini confirmed that his intention was to remain with HRC in 2013, with Honda management keen to keep him with the Japanese factory after he was an integral figure in helping Stoner win Honda’s first MotoGP title since 2006 last season.
Gabbarini told MCN: “I can only speak for myself and my intention is to stay here (HRC) but nothing is completely defined. But the other guys I don't know.”
Gabbarini confirmed he had an offer to stay from Honda but “we are still discussing this.”
He declined to comment though on a possible return to Ducati, where he was crew chief with Stoner between 2007 and 2010. Stoner won 23 races for Ducati and the 2007 world title and he remains the only rider to have mastered the Desmosedici.