Honda has officially confirmed that Casey Stoner will join its MotoGP lineup for 2011.
The move had been rumored since former Ducati boss Livio Suppo moved to Honda last autumn, and Stoner has now followed him, with the announcement of his Honda signing coming shortly after Ducati revealed he was leaving its fold earlier this morning.
Honda did not reveal how long Stoner's deal is for, and said it would not announce its full 2011 squad until later this year. But team boss Shuhei Nakamoto did suggest he was eager to retain current riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, amid rumors of a three-bike factory program next season.
"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," said Nakamoto. "HRC hopes also to retain these two riders for next year – giving us what would be a truly formidable lineup."
Stoner started his MotoGP career with satellite Honda team LCR in 2006, before leaving for Ducati at the end of the year and winning the 2007 MotoGP championship.
"We are very pleased that Casey will join Honda again next year," said Nakamoto. "Clearly he is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he will bring valuable speed and experience to our team."
Although it is losing Stoner, Ducati is now widely expected to sign Valentino Rossi from Yamaha in his place, with Tech 3 rider and Superbike champion Ben Spies favorite to step into Rossi's vacant seat if the deal goes ahead.