Casey Stoner will leave Honda and ride alongside Loris Capirossi
at the factory Ducati Marlboro Team for the 2007 season, according to a report in his native Australia.The Australian
reveals that the 21-year-old will sign a multi-year deal with Ducati, replacing Sete Gibernau
- the rider Stoner ironically injured when he crashed out of Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.
Stoner has been prompted to leave Honda after the re-signing of factory Repsol riders Nicky Hayden
and Dani Pedrosa, plus the rumoured decision to hand Marco Melandri
a third factory machine in 2007.
"Those deals with Marco, (Dani) and Nicky have already made me a minimum of fourth in line at Honda," said Stoner.
"No rider has ever won a world championship on a satellite bike and that is what is appealing about a factory team like Ducati," he added. "Every year Ducati are winning more races, they are becoming more competitive, as are the Bridgestone tyres."
Stoner has taken one pole position and one podium in his debut MotoGP
season, but six non-scores have left him just seventh in the championship standings.
Meanwhile, the Honda LCR team - which graduated with Stoner to the MotoGP
class this season - has moved quickly to sign a replacement, tempting veteran Carlos Checa from the Tech 3 Yamaha team, where he has turned heads with impressive performances on Dunlop tyres this year.
"Yes, I have reached an agreement with Carlos Checa but I would also like to wish Casey all the best with his future career," confirmed LCR team principal Lucio Cecchinello.
Checa was due to ride a Honda, alongside Stoner, at the Pons team this season - but the departure of title sponsor Camel to Yamaha forced the team to withdraw from the championship.
In another development, Colin Edwards
now looks certain to stay with the factory Yamaha team, alongside Valentino Rossi, in 2007 - the first season of 800cc racing.