What has been speculated on for months has officially been announced by both Honda and Ducati: Casey Stoner will ride for HRC in 2011.Stoner, the 2007 World Champion, will leave Ducati after four seasons with the Marlboro-backed team and will join Honda, though it is not yet known for which team he will ride. The Repsol Honda team is currently made up of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso and, according to HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda is hoping to keep those two in addition to Stoner."We are very pleased that Casey will join Honda again next year," Nakamoto said in a release issued early this morning. "Clearly he is one of the top riders in MotoGP and he will bring valuable speed and experience to our team. In the factory Honda squad we already have two very strong and experienced riders in Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, who are performing very well and currently hold second and third positions in the 2010 World Championship. HRC hopes also to retain these two riders for next year - giving us what would be a truly formidable line-up."Stoner is currently sixth in the MotoGP World Championship, but his four-year run with Ducati will end on November 7 when the Valencia Grand Prix brings a close to the current season and his contract. Stoner won his first and only World Championship in 2007, giving Ducati its first title in the premiere class."I would like to thank Casey on behalf of our fans and our sponsors, but most of all on behalf of all the people working at Ducati," said Filippo Preziosi, Ducati Corse General Director, in a team release. "The victories and emotions he gave us, rewarded all the hard work and sacrifice we made. In these four years together we have had a lot of great moments. Securing the 2007 MotoGP World Championship title and the victory at Mugello in 2009 were moments that we will never forget. In Casey we not only found an incredibly talented rider, but also an honest and loyal guy and that's why there will always be a strong and sincere bond between us, even as a competitor."Stoner says it is time to move on."I must thank Ducati for giving me such a great opportunity to race and win with them over these past four years," Stoner in the Ducati release. "They took a gamble when they signed me at the end of 2006 as I was unknown, but as we worked together we were able to win a championship, many races, and challenge for the championship in the last two seasons. I have now decided to move on and I will have new challenges in the future and different obstacles to overcome, but I will not forget these years with Ducati and the people I have had the privilege to work so closely with. So a big thanks to Ducati and all our sponsors who we have shared success with while achieving lifelong goals."Stoner's departure leaves an open spot at Ducati, though most believe that Valentino Rossi will make the move from Yamaha to fill that spot for next year.

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Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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