Honda open to Casey Stoner MotoGP wildcard
Repsol Honda has left open the possibility of fielding a wildcard for Casey Stoner later this year despite overlooking the Australian as a substitute for the injured Dani Pedrosa.
Team manager Livio Suppo has confirmed to Italian media that the team discussed the possibility of Stoner standing in for the Spaniard, who underwent arm surgery last week.
Citing Stoner’s lack of recent competition and unfamiliarity with the upcoming circuits, Honda has instead elected to use its test rider Hiroshi Aoyama to fill the role.
Stoner has tested with the team on several occasions since walking away from full-time racing and retiring to Australia at the end of 2012.
Although disenchanted with the sport upon his exit, Stoner recently announced a one-off return to competition with Honda in the Suzuka 8 Hour production bike race, to be held on July 26.
The 29-year-old tweeted “it would have been an honour” to ride in place of Pedrosa, before adding the tag #NotMeantToBe.
“There were some pros, but more cons, so we decided it would be better to leave it,” Suppo told Italian newspaper Gazzetta de la Sport of Stoner substituting for Pedrosa.
“People don’t realise how high the level is, so having won a lot doesn’t mean one is immediately quick on his return.”
Suppo drew comparison with Stoner’s fellow Australian Troy Bayliss, who scored a best result of just ninth in a four-race return to the World Superbike Championship earlier this year.
Despite throwing doubt on whether Stoner could compete against current Honda hot-shoe Marc Marquez, Suppo left open the possibility of facilitating a return via a wildcard at a later date.
“If he seriously wants to return, he must prepare,” said Suppo.
“Entering a one-off race would be more of a disadvantage, for us and for him, with the added risk of getting hurt. And anyway, I keep on believing that he doesn’t want to race full time.
“(But) a wild card entry at the end of the season? He can ask us and we’ll think about it.”
Stoner had been scheduled to appear on a MotoGP-spec Honda at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Top Gear Festival later this month, before the event’s change of venue and date, which now clashes with Suzuka.