After a lifetime of racing prototype GP machinery that handled like a dream, Stoner rode a Suzuka-spec CBR1000RR at Sepang earlier in the year alongside his contracted HRC MotoGP testing duties. Not surprisingly, Stoner was very fast. He’ll partner Honda’s World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark and HRC test rider Takumi Takahashi with the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO squad, in an attempt to win Honda’s sixth consecutive victory at the event. The Suzuka 8hr race is a breeding ground for dodgy/funny/stupidly long team names, and Casey has escaped relatively lightly.
Casey Stoner: “After riding the bike in Sepang a few months ago, I’ve been speaking closely with Honda about the possibility to take part in Suzuka. It’s always been an event I wanted to do and something I was never able to consider when I was racing in MotoGP, due to our busy schedules, so I’m really looking forward to taking part! The bike is very different to a MotoGP machine, but it will be a new challenge and a chance for me to try something new and unlike what I’ve been used to in my racing to this point. I’ve been impressed with Michael van der Mark this season and Takumi Takahashi has a lot of experience on this machine, so I’m looking forward to hearing their comments and working together with them in preparation for the July race. Now I need to concentrate on my training to be ready for the race!”
Sunday 26th July is the date. Let’s hope Stoner’s comeback is a catalyst for other manufacturers to wheel out the big boys at Suzuka, just like the good old days. Rossi and Lorenzo on the new R1?