There is a rumor that has been floating for a couple of weeks now, and with at least three reputable sources indicating that Nicky Hayden is negotiating with Yamaha to race MotoGP next year, it is time to bring it to the attention of MD readers.
Yes, Honda’s Nicky Hayden, the new AMA Superbike champion and dirt tracker extraordinaire, has finished the last year of his current Honda contract. As the “golden boy” of American roadracing, he is a hot commodity both in the U.S. and abroad. We have opined before that Nicky belongs at the World championship level.
In many ways, it makes sense that Nicky will end up on a Yamaha MotoGP bike next year. He needs to race with the best, and Honda already has Valentino Rossi and Daijiro Kato signed for next year. Nicky would want to be on a competitive bike, and Max Biaggi proved that Yamaha is on the right track with its MotoGP machine with his win at Brno a week ago. Furthermore, Biaggi has indicated that he is leaving Yamaha for another team, and Yamaha will be anxious to compete for the MotoGP championship with both Carlos Checa and a qualified replacement for Biaggi. We should hear an official announcement from Nicky Hayden before too long indicating his plans for 2003.