German MotoGP: Casey Stoner talks Honda switch

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Casey Stoner has spoken briefly about his decision to quit Ducati at the end of the season and move to Honda in 2011.

The 24-year-old, who has won 20 races for Ducati since the start of 2007, will ride a factory RC212V next year in what could be a three-rider factory HRC squad with Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

The Aussie was inevitably asked about his move at today’s pre-event press conference for the Sachsenring’s German MotoGP clash and he admitted the decision had been tough to reach.

Stoner won a historic first world title for Ducati back in 2007 but he admitted needing a new challenge in 2011.

He also said that while the decision to leave Ducati and move to Honda had been a tough one, he said it was a choice he reached earlier this season.

Rumours of Stoner’s switch to HRC started to surface as early as the second round of the season in Jerez when his father and manager Colin Stoner flew to Europe for talks with Honda and Ducati.

In today’s press conference he cleverly dodged naming Honda in his answers and he said: “It took a long time to make a decision and it definitely is an emotional one having had such a fantastic run with Ducati.

"I’ve had a lot of good times with them and I still believe we’ve got more to enjoy this year. But I’ve decided to have a new challenge and try new horizons and see what I can do next year with a different manufacturer.

"It is a manufacturer that a lot of people look up to and have done for a number of years. It is a manufacturer that when you’re a child you dream of riding for.

"I have to thank Ducati and this is another stepping stone in my career and we will see what we can make of it. I want to do well for the rest of the year but also need to see what the future holds.”

The announcement about Stoner’s departure came with 11 races of the current campaign still to run.

But the former LCR Honda rider denied his decision would have a detrimental impact on the factory Ducati team for the remainder of the season.

He added: “Nothing has changed between us, We made the decision quite early on in the year and now I’ve been focused on this year.

"I’ve had my own difficulties with losing a bit of confidence at the start of the year with the crashes and I’ve just trying to get back on track.

"The last three races I’ve been fast enough but still haven’t managed to pull it together.”

Nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi will take Stoner’s place with American Nicky Hayden closing in on a new deal to remain with Ducati for 2011.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt