When Livio Suppo made his shock switch Honda HRC after eleven years in Ducati to become Honda’s marketing manager many hinted, including Loris Capirossi, that Suppo’s first big move in 2010 would be try to lure Casey Stoner away from Ducati into the Honda factory team.
Suppo has gotten a jump start on the 2011 silly season and on Monday evening after the test session at Jerez, the Italian spent a long time with Casey Stoner and his dad Colin (Casey’s manager) in Stoner’s motorhome, negotiating Stoner’s eventual move to Honda next year.
Stoner has always stated that he would like to finish his career in Ducati, but will he be able to resist the sirens of Honda, especially when they come from Suppo, the man who strenously defended him during the Australian’s then mysterious illness?
What reasons could push Stoner away from the Ducati family into the loving and waiting arms of Suppo and Honda in 2011?
After Stoner’s three race pull-out last year, many said that the echelons of Ducati management were upset with what they considered a disappearing act and Phillip Morris/Marlboro who foots most of Ducati’s GP bills were doubly upset with the Australian, trying to get Jorge Lorenzo by dangling a 7 million euro offer, more that twice what Stoner makes, to ride for the Italian team and when Lorenzo refused preferring to stay with Yamaha, asked Stoner to apologize.
Add to all this that this year’s new Ducati Desmosedici has now become more rider friendly, with Nicky Hayden coming close to the podium in both rounds and the American is always available and happy to do promotional tours for the Italian manufacturer.
Who will be the rider that will lose his ride in Honda to make room for Stoner’s eventual switch? Andrea Dovizioso or Dani Pedrosa? Apparently the relationship between Honda and the Spanish rider has become tense over this last winter after certain statements made by Pedrosa regarding the RC212V machine. Honda has been trying to satisfy everyone of Pedrosa’s technical demands and long time sponsor Repsol, who has always strongly backed Pedrosa’s presence in the team in these last four years, now seems to be willing to renew their sponsorship with the Japanese team, even without Pedrosa.
The first official step towards the 2011 silly season has begun.