SYDNEY (AFP) – Former world Moto GP champion Casey Stoner fuelled speculation on Tuesday that he may return to the sport by announcing he will test ride with his old team Honda at Motegi.
The Australian, who won two world titles in motorcycling's most prestigious category, in 2007 and 2011, shocked the sport last year when he retired at the peak of his career aged just 27.
At the time, he said he was disillusioned with the sport and switched to V8 Supercars.
But he admits he has missed the thrill of two wheels and will now complete four Honda test sessions, joining the team in Japan on August 6 and 7.
It has increased speculation that he could make wild card race appearances this year with the Australian and Japanese Grands Prix seen as most likely, although Honda have denied this.
"There are times when I miss riding my RC213V so I am really happy that Honda have asked me to do some testing in Motegi this year," Stoner said on the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix website.
"It will allow me to enjoy what I miss which is riding a MotoGP bike."
A spokesman for the Honda Racing Corporation insisted that wild card appearances were not part of the plan.
"There have been rumours of a wild card race for Casey but this is out of the question," HRC Team Principal Livio Suppo said.
Crucially Honda want Stoner's assessment of their RC213V which is locked in a tense struggle with Yamaha for this year's world championship.
"When you have a new bike it is good to have a test rider who can really push the limit before you give the bike to the factory riders," said Suppo.
"If you do something you do it properly which is why HRC have agreed with Casey to come and do a series of four test sessions in Japan."