Former double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner
will come out of retirement during a series of test sessions for Honda.
The gifted Australian, Ducati's only world champion before claiming a second crown with Honda in 2011, walked away from the sport at the end of last season - aged just 27.
But Stoner, who has since taken part in V8 Supercar racing, will now get back on a MotoGP machine after agreeing to four tests at Motegi, Japan 'over the next few months'.
"It's been almost seven months now since Valencia and I'm still happy and comfortable with the decision I made to stop racing," said Stoner.
"Sometimes I miss riding my RCV, so I am happy that HRC asked me to do some tests in Motegi this year. This will allow me to enjoy what I miss: riding a MotoGP bike! I'm looking forward to getting on the bike and see how it has changed from last year and I'd like to thank Honda for this opportunity."
The official purpose of the tests is to help Honda work on the evolution of the RC213V and also next year's new privateer production racer bike. The tests are sure to spark further speculation that Stoner could make a race return as a wild-card later this year. However such wild-card rumours are described by Honda as 'now out of the question'.
"We are very pleased to have Casey back on a Honda!” said HRC Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. “He knows this machine very well and I'm sure he can help our engineers and technicians with the development of the RC213V. We will also ask him to test the new production racer and give us his initial feedback to assist us in producing the best machine possible."
Stoner's place in the Repsol Honda team has been taken by rookie Marc Marquez, who currently leads the championship standings by 16 points from team-mate Dani Pedrosa.
Marquez and Pedrosa briefly tried the 2014 RCV prototype during a private test at Aragon in June, but decided to stick with the present version of the machine. Changes to the MotoGP rules mean that next year's official MSMA machines must use the new control ECU hardware, and one litre less fuel per race.
Honda's new production racer, a cut price version of the RCV for sale to privateers, will be required to run the full control ECU system - software and hardware. The keep costs down, the bike does not feature pneumatic valves or a seamless shift gearbox, but will enjoy the privateer perks of four litres extra race fuel and twelve instead of five engine changes during the year.
Stoner took 38 MotoGP wins between 2006 and the end of 2012. Ducati has not won a race since Stoner left for Honda at the end of 2010.