Honda has confirmed that Casey Stoner was return to racing for a one off outing at this year's Suzuka 8 Hours. The double MotoGP champion will make his debut at the famous endurance race in July alongside Michael van der Mark and on a Takumi Takahashi on July 26.
“After riding the bike in Sepang a few months ago, I’ve been speaking closely with Honda about the possibility to take part in Suzuka," said Stoner. "It’s always been an event I wanted to do and something I was never able to consider when I was racing in MotoGP, due to our busy schedules, so I’m really looking forward to taking part. The bike is very different to a MotoGP machine, but it will be a new challenge and a chance for me to try something new and unlike what I’ve been used to in my racing to this point.”
Stoner's return for the race has been heavily speculated but the confirmation is sure to see interest in the event surge and for HRC vice-president, Shuhei Nakamoto, the opportunity to have Stoner and van der Mark teamed together was too good an opportunity to miss:
“We are very happy that Casey agreed to take part in the 8hr with Honda. It will be great to see him back on a bike in a racing environment and I’m sure he will enjoy it. Together with van der Mark and Takahashi they form a strong team to compete in this endurance race – I’m excited to see how they will do.”
Van der Mark and Takahashi have won the race for the last two years, when teamed with Leon Haslam, but being teamed with Stoner added something different to the race. Both riders with each saying that it was something that added an extra layer of excitement to the race.
Stoner, who retired following the 2012 Valencia Grand Prix, has been a regular test rider for Honda over the last two years and will have four days testing the Suzuka specification superbike at the official pre-event tests in July.