The 2011 MotoGP world championship line-up is starting to take shape with Honda officially announcing the signing of Casey Stoner today.
Shortly after Ducati confirmed the 2007 world champion was quitting at the end of the current campaign, HRC announced that it had captured the signature of Stoner.
Stoner’s deal with the Japanese factory halts endless speculation about the 24-year-old’s move to ride a factory RC212V next season.
Ever since his father and manager Colin Stoner met Ducati and HRC bosses at the second race in Jerez, it has been rumoured that Stoner was on his way to Honda.
HRC was desperate to sign the former LCR Honda rider as it tries to win back the premier class world title it last won in 2006.
Honda’s short statement confirming the signing of Stoner did not include details of the team he will ride for in 2011. Honda is still locked in negotiations over a possible three-rider factory line-up featuring Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.
HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said:
"We are very pleased that Casey will join Honda again next year. Clearly he is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he will bring valuable speed and experience to our team.
"In the factory Honda squad we already have two very strong and experienced riders in Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso who are performing very well and currently hold second and third positions in the 2010 World Championship. HRC hopes also to retain these two riders for next year - giving us what would be a truly formidable line-up."
Stoner's switch to Honda was eased by new HRC manager Livio Suppo.
He was the man who signed Stoner for Ducati at the end of 2006, and despite rumours of a big rift last season when Stoner took an illness sabbatical, Suppo has been influential in luring the former 250GP world championship runner-up to ride an RC212V next year.