MotoGP » 1 January 1901
Stoner signs for Cecchinello!
After apparently failing to secure sponsorship by the required deadline, Honda Pons has lost the services of 2005 250cc World Championship runner-up Casey Stoner - but the young Australian will still ride a Honda RC211V in MotoGP next year, after re-signing with his former 250cc boss Lucio Cecchinello.
Stoner had originally been tipped to graduate to the premier-class with Cecchinello's LCR race team, on Yamaha M1 machinery, in 2006 - but later accepted a rival offer from Honda Pons.
However, turmoil over whether title sponsor Camel would remain seems to have ended Stoner's time at the Spanish outfit after just two pre-season tests.
Meanwhile, Cecchinello - who has presumably secured the sponsorship required - convinced Honda to let his team run Stoner instead.
"Casey contacted me to tell me that he was available and we quickly found an agreement," Cecchinello told motogp.com. "We just have to sign the amended contract... The new deal will specify that he will race for us, in the MotoGP class, for the two next seasons.
"It has been a pretty difficult period after the end of the season," added the former GP winner. "Before the end of the championship, we were clearly looking at a move to the MotoGP class. We had the rider, an agreement with Yamaha and a spot on the MotoGP grid.
"What happened is that Sito Pons couldn't contract Max (Biaggi) and made an interesting offer to Stoner. So we lost our rider and couldn't move forward with the project.
"Almost two months later, Casey eventually told us he was available again. Meantime, he had tested the Honda and was willing to race on this machine, so we talked with HRC to make it possible," Cecchinello concluded.
It could be argued that Stoner's new deal means that Camel now expects to be backing Max Biaggi, at Kawasaki, in 2006. If Camel had failed to find Biaggi a ride, it is believed they would have remained as title sponsor at Honda Pons.
Stoner's switch now means that Pons will almost certainly become a one rider team in 2006, providing it can secure the backing required to run Carlos Checa.
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