The uncertainty around Dani Pedrosa’s future could pave the way for Casey Stoner to make a spectacular return to MotoGP with Honda, says former world champion Mick Doohan.
Pedrosa sat out the Grand Prix of the Americas and will also miss this weekend’s Argentine GP after undergoing surgery on a troublesome forearm injury for a second time in a year.
Hiroshi Aoyama, the HRC team’s test rider and Japan’s 2009 250cc champion, has stepped in as his temporary replacement.
Doohan said it would be very hard for Pedrosa to return and fight for the title, a feat he’d failed to achieve after nine seasons in the premier class despite winning multiple races and pole positions.
“Dani’s a great rider … he’s been a long time with Repsol Honda, a tier-one team with great machinery, but he hasn’t produced the results,” Doohan told AAP at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
“He’s won grands prix, he’s qualified on pole – he’s ticked a lot of boxes except for that world championship box.
“In years gone by, the teams wouldn’t have had you hang around for so long.
“Unfortunately for him, I think his best years may be behind him – but I hope he proves me wrong.”
Doohan suggested countryman Stoner could be an option if the team decided to part ways with Pedrosa or if the Spaniard left of his own accord.
Stoner quit MotoGP at the end of 2012 after two world championships, but had been a regular test rider for Honda and recently announced he would contest July’s Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race.
“If he does want to come back, maybe he’s an option for them to replace Dani Pedrosa for next year,” the Australian said.
“This is just my opinion.
“For me, Stoner retired too young and for the wrong reasons and this is why he wants to come back.
“But it’s yet to be seen if he can step up to the challenge to compete against these guys.”
Another Australian, Jack Miller, could also be in the mix if the opportunity arose after he made the jump up from Moto3 to MotoGP with LCR Honda this year.
Miller crashed late on debut at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix and finished 14th in Texas at the weekend after starting 19th for his first two championship points.
“If he can get a top 10 in any grand prix, then that’s a win for him,” said Doohan.