Retired MotoGP champion Casey Stoner will return to Ducati as a 'brand ambassador and test rider'.

The Australian won Ducati's only MotoGP title during his first year with the team in 2007, before a move to Honda - and second world crown - in 2011.

Stoner retired from MotoGP the following year, but has since taken part in testing duties for Honda and an ill-fated entry in this year's Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance race.

An offer to replace the injured Dani Pedrosa at Austin and Argentina this season was surprisingly declined by HRC, a decision that may have contributed to Stoner's Ducati return.

The 30-year-old's new role - announced minutes after Honda confirmed his departure - involves becoming a 'brand ambassador' for Ducati, including an appearance at World Ducati Week from July 1-3, plus 'a selected number of MotoGP tests for the Ducati Team next year'.

MotoGP fans will doubtless hope that those tests could lead to a wild-card race appearance.

"It's been a great journey with HRC over the last five years, winning the World Championship in 2011 was obviously a high point and I've made many friends and formed lasting relationships along the way," Stoner said.

"For 2016 I am very excited to announce that I will again be joining the Ducati team! I have so many great memories working with the people and the brand of Ducati and the opportunity to work with them again is something very special.

"Gigi Dall'Igna has brought with him a new approach and I'm looking forward to assisting the team, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone however I can.

"The Ducati brand and the Ducati fans have been such a big part of my career and my life, so it will be really great to reunite the relationship and start another chapter with this iconic brand."

Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, added: "Stoner has always remained in the hearts of all the Ducatisti and I am really pleased that he has decided to come back to our family.

"Casey has an extraordinary talent and with his experience he will be able to make an important contribution for Gigi and the two Andreas in the development of the Desmosedici MotoGP bike.

"His presence at WDW 2016 will be a special gift for all the Ducati fans and enthusiasts, who will finally have the opportunity to catch up once again with this great champion who brought the 2007 world title to Borgo Panigale and who won numerous GP races with the Desmosedici GP."

Stoner won 23 races for Ducati between 2007 and 2010. The factory has not claimed a grand prix victory since his departure.



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