Retired double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner could be set for a return to Ducati.
The Australian claimed the factory's only MotoGP title in 2007, moving to Honda in 2011 where he claimed a second crown before retiring at the end of 2012.
Stoner has since taken part in MotoGP test riding duties for the Japanese factory, plus an entry in this year's Suzuka 8 Hours, where he was injured after the throttle stuck open.
Significantly, the 30-year-old also offered to fill-in for injured former Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa earlier this year - but was surprisingly turned down by HRC.
Rumours of a Stoner return to Ducati began with a Speedweek report during the flyaway races. With questions from the media intensifying, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti visited the media room in Valencia on Wednesday, where he told us:
“As you know Casey has been a hero for Ducati, winning many GP races and the world title in 2007. Obviously he moved to Honda and has been working with them, but still he is in the heart of all the Ducati fans and has a good relationship with many Ducati people.
“So let's see what the future brings. We know the contract with Honda expires at the end of this year and obviously if there is a chance to do something together we would love to do it. That is the only thing I can say.”
So far from a denial - and why pick words so carefully, and refuse to answer any further questions, if Stoner returning isn't a real possibility? - but the Honda contract means there is unlikely to be anything official until January 1.
It is not thought that Stoner would consider a return to MotoGP full time, but a wild-card alongside some Ducati testing duties seems to be of interest...
Ducati have not won a MotoGP race since Stoner's departure.