You cannot argue with the fact that Nicky Hayden has not achieved the results he has wanted, or Honda has wanted, since taking the MotoGP championship a couple of years ago. He sits in eighth position in the 2008 World championship just prior to the Laguna Seca round this weekend. Dani Pedrosa is clearly the number one rider on the Repsol Honda Team at this point.
So, will Honda keep Hayden for 2009? There is no final word, yet, but it would appear likely Hayden will move to another team. Young Andrea Dovizioso has out-performed Hayden aboard his Honda with the satellite JiR Team Scot. Dovizioso is sixth in the championship in his rookie year, and could be called up to be Pedrosa’s teammate for 2009.
Despite his troubles, Hayden still shows flashes of brilliance, including the near podium robbed from him at Assen a few weeks ago when his pneumatic-valved Honda gave out in the final corner of the race . . . forcing him to coast across the line for fourth place. For one, Ducati still believes Hayden can win, and has shown interest in him for 2009 as a replacement for Marco Melandri. Melandri’s manager indicated last weekend that he has negotiated a termination of Melandri’s relationship with Ducati effective next year.
For his part, Hayden has indicated he is still interested in staying with Honda, but his performance this weekend at his home GP will undoubtedly be critical to his negotiating leverage.