Factory Ducati team-mates Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller had assistance from a very special trackside coach at Portimao on Friday in the form of double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner.

After retiring at the end of 2012, with 38 MotoGP wins and a world title for both Ducati and Honda, Stoner signed-up as test rider for HRC and then Ducati.

The Ducati partnership came to an end in 2018 and, due to health issues and Covid restrictions, the Australian hasn’t been at a MotoGP event for three and a half years.

"I met Casey for the first time yesterday here," said Bagnaia, who like Miller joined the factory Ducati team this season and is on course to claim second in the world championship behind Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo.

"Today he was like our coach. He was on the track to see us. It’s nice to hear another point of view. I appreciate it. He’s not a normal coach - he’s Casey Stoner. For sure it was great. Maybe tomorrow it will help us even more."

Helped by Stoner's trackside tips, Bagnaia and Miller finished a strong second and third on the timesheets behind Quartararo.

"I had an on-track spotter today, which was nice. And you can’t ask for a better one than him," said Miller. "He was out on track, saw a few different things. Gave me a tip after FP1, and I worked on it in FP2.

"He had a few suggestions as any other rider coach would do, but I think you pay extra attention when someone like [Stoner] is telling you what he’s seeing on track, that’s for sure.

"We’ll have to talk to Ducati next year and see if we can get him in the budget to come to a few more races!"

Countryman Miller is now riding for the same team as Stoner, but said the similarities end there.

"I don’t want to even put myself in the same boat. Casey is a legend. What he did in the sport is fantastic," Miller said. "I'm not in the same field as him. Double world champion, [38] MotoGP wins. I’m a completely kettle of fish. But also the times are different now.

"He was incredibly strong throughout his career. I hope to one day be on the same [world champion's] trophy as him, that would be lovely. But it was nice to catch up. I hasn’t seen him for a long time."