MotorcycleDaily.com – Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Is Nicky Hayden Finishing His Last Year in MotoGP?

Nicky

This weekend, Laguna Seca fans will be cheering on American racer Nicky Hayden aboard his factory Ducati MotoGP bike . . . perhaps for the last time. Hayden’s five-year relationship with Ducati may be coming to an end. Apparently, as his contract with the factory expires, there has been no offer to renew it for 2014.

In Germany last weekend, Hayden admitted that his prospects of staying in MotoGP were not good, and that he had been in contact with more than one WSB team for next year. One report indicates Hayden already has a firm offer to switch to Superbikes, where he could potentially become the first to win both the MotoGP title (in 2006 with Honda) and the WSB title.

Many have wondered whether Hayden would have been far more successful, and perhaps even won another title, had he ridden a Honda or Yamaha the past five years. During Valentino Rossi’s stint at Ducati, Hayden frequently equaled, or bested, the legend.

There is some speculation that Ducati will hang onto Hayden by putting him aboard an 1199 Panigale in WSB, where the new superbike has thus far been unable to achieve a podium finish. Perhaps there will be some announcement about Hayden’s future in California next weekend.

76 Comments

  1. Fkwyman says:

    I’d love to see Haden on a WSBK. GP bikes are awesome machines by the actual racing is often stale in comparison to WSBK. TBH, I rather miss the days of watching 8 AMA 600′s banging plastic at the front with 2 to go. Watching the same bikes stretching out a second per lap, week after week, is getting tiresome. I’m curious how informed the WSBK commentator was who mentioned Rae going to GP Duc, and Haden dropping squarely onto his vacated Honda saddle.

  2. PatrickD says:

    Nicky has had 10 years on one of six factory bike seats. 28 podiums and 3 race wins are the statistics. He’s had a better chance than almost everyone else, and hasn’t delivered. Whilst team mates with Rossi, Pedrosa and Stoner, he’s shown that he’s not in the same class. Whilst they’d win, he could scarcely muster a podium.
    Nice guy, good ‘wing-man’, but it’s time one of those seats went to someone hungrier.

  3. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I just read elsewhere that Hayden supposedly announced he is not riding for Ducati MotoGP in 2014.

  4. TheRandyGuy says:

    Study your history, guys: Honda treats EVERYBODY the way they treated Hayden. Gardner, Doohan – World Champions got the boot when Honda decided it was time to move on. Lawson read the tea leaves and departed before he was shown the door. Hayden did what KJ,Jr. did, won the title once – good for him. The Ducati debacle is a shame, if for no other reason than it’s good for the sport for different manufacturers to win the title. If Hayden does finish in MotoGP, he’ll leave with the prestige of being a World Champion. Not a bad way to go.

    • Dave says:

      Indeed. Honda does not like it when the rider becomes a bigger brand than their bike.

      • Scotty says:

        IIRC after 5 straight titles and a monster crash Mick Doohan was more a bionic man made of metal than a normal human! Maybe he’s just had enough – 5 straight is a good record.

        • Dave says:

          Doohan nearly lost his leg before his first championship and somehow managed to do all he did with essentially a living prosthetic for a right leg. He retired in ’99 after badly breaking it again.

  5. Nomadak says:

    I would really like to see Hayden get an opportunity on a Tech 3 Yamaha and see what he could do agains the factory boys with a good bike. That would be something to see. If that weren’t possible, I would like to see him head a Yamaha return to WSB. The guy brings his best to each race weekend and is truly an ambassador for the sport. He is a good rider and has tons of experience. I hope he has a few more years in Moto Gp left in him.

  6. Philip says:

    On the positive side, I think Hayden is a good prospect for any team. I think he is the most popular American actively racing in any series and on top of that his riding skills are as good if not better than ever. Anyone see those ‘monster saves’ on the Ducati last weekend?
    I’d like to see him on a Honda superbike, win the WSBC, win the Suzuka 8hrs, and win a mile to get the grand slam. Don’t know if it could happen, but if I were him, those would be my goals.

  7. Karlsbad says:

    What goes around comes around, Pedrosa’s honeymoon is over. Honda & Repsol are set to groom the new golden boy Marquez. Honda and Repsol want a title and I doubt Pedrosa will get it for them. Nicky has a great reputation as a real team player and all things considered has done an admiral job with the Duc. BUT… winning cures all ills and so far Nicky has seen little of the podium since the switch to Ducati. At the end of the day it is all about winning and ALL teams are under huge pressure to win. wherever Nicky ends up I am sure you will see the same work ethic as always and I wish him the best of luck.

  8. GG says:

    It is a real shame that Hayden will be recorded as a world champion of the premier category of motorcycle racing. He never deserved to be a world champion.. Statistics, namely race wins, do not lie. Back then it was a shock to see him getting a ride with HRC and keeping it for so many years. A real shame and a waste of a fine motorcycle. We want great riders, not nice guys.

    Do not worry, we might still see him crowned as world champion – this time in the WSBK series, that is the championship of second-rate riders.

    • DeltaZulu says:

      Oh, so you MUST be a MotoGP racer yourself, huh? I mean you talk with so much authority about “second-rate riders”. Or, if you’re not in MotoGP, you are just another loudmouth, keyboard commando.

      • GG says:

        11 seasons, 6 seasons on a factory honda, 3 race wins.

        • DeltaZulu says:

          So, you’re either just totally jealous of Nicky or a complete liar, then. You say he didn’t deserve to be world champion, but did he or did he not end the 2006 season with the most points? And, how many world championships do you have there, Mr. Jealousy?

    • Ricardo says:

      GG = Gibernau or Guintoli?

    • booyaaa says:

      GG, get your head our of your ass

    • GG, You are a big talker. Come out from behind the curtain you wizard. Let us know who you are so we can acknowledge your greatness. Hell, I have 3 race wins. I guess that makes me faster than Nicky too!

      • DeltaZulu says:

        Matt – “Come out from behind the curtain you wizard” – LOL!

        Hell, I had 4 race wins in one day… although, to be honest, it wasn’t on motorcycles, it was with Humvees. And, I have to come clean, the other two guys did have the up-armored Humvees and I had the standard one. But, hey a win is a win, even if they didn’t know we were racing…. I knew!

        • DZ, I love it, Humvee racing. You are the MAN. It is in your blood. BTW: thank you for your service to this great country.

          • DeltaZulu says:

            Matt – Thank you, sir for the kind words. It has been a distinct and high honor to serve this great nation.

    • Dave says:

      The name for the man who finishes the season with the most points = Champion. He beat Valentino Rossi at his peak with everything on the line in the last race. There may not be a rider in the modern era who deserved his championship more than Nicky.

      • DeltaZulu says:

        Dave, you nailed it. Pretty much any other argument is out of stupidity or jealousy.

      • Dave says:

        And Nick did it in spite of being knocked out of a critical race by his overzealous teammate.

    • stinkywheels says:

      I admit he kinda backed into the championship but he DID win it, and really had to battle with one of the greatest to secure it despite having a sh—y teamate. But, facts are facts, 3 wins ( I thought it was 2). When he was champ Honda screwed him by designing a bike for his Spanish teamate to satisfy Repsol. Second rate, no, undeserving, no, World Champ,yes, nice guy, yes, ambassador, yes!

    • Provologna says:

      I’d like to see the pathetic circular reasoning behind this person’s detailed explanation how he attaches the word “shame” to a World Champion of the fastest motorcycle road race series extant.

      Any mortal riding one of these vehicles flat out in a straight line would likely soil themselves then immediately thereafter crash and die.

  9. Glen says:

    Pedrosa and Piug kept the Spanish Repsol Oil Company happy. Repsol contributes enormous amounts of money towards the Honda Team. Honda’s “bean counters” LOVE that subsidy towards the huge expense of their MotoGP team. They can’t stop themselves from always kissing Repsol’s as@. On another note: I also think that Nicky was kept on by Ducati for this long because of his never-say-die work ethic and great attitude and the fact he’s American and America is Ducati’s BIGGEST market. I’m sure his salary was excellent when he was first hired. I too often think what he could have achieved had he been on a Honda taylored for him.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I am sure any manufacturer out there would jump at the opportunity to kiss Repsol’s as@. And on your other note :-) I don’t think the nationality of the rider really has any impact in North America with respect to Ducati’s sales – I think Diavels and Multistradas have the impact here. Apparently winning in MotoGP doesn’t matter that much either to North American sales. I think Ducati has reached that holy marketing grail – a cultish, lifestyle brand – like a particular American manufacturer that comes to mind.

  10. TomS says:

    When Nicky left AMA to join MotoGP, I didn’t think he’d be competitive with the top tier riders. But he’s got a world championship in his pocket and he has matured impressively both as a rider, an ambassador for the sport, and as a human being. He has been riding his ass off on a bike that has little chance of winning, without complaint and always with honesty and style.

    Whether he stays in MotoGP or switches to WSBK I wish him the best, and I look forward to watching his career wherever it is.

  11. Jack says:

    Nicky has always been a class act and standup guy. No trash talking or other drama that seems to dominate professional sports. He is one of the hardest workers out there and a great face for any company. Ducati needs to look in the mirror and realize the bike is the problem, not the riders. I think the bike has gone so backwards that even Stoner couldn’t be competitive on it. If Cal had any sense he would stay far away from it. The Tech 3 Yamaha is miles ahead of the Ducati. I think Ducati is making a big mistake with Nicky but it’s their show and their checkbook.

  12. Mike Cyprus says:

    Ducati were never successful when rules were clear like they are these days. What they were doing is to tailor the rules on their bike. Now days BMW and Aprilia are in, so Ducati stuck to what they can build that is a complete failure.
    Nicky should go to Kawasaki or Honda

  13. bikerrandy says:

    None of us fans know how much Nicky get’s paid for his services in Moto GP. I’ll bet it’s less than we think.

    Moto GP is all about european Nationalism. Not so much about how efficient the riders are. Funny thing is now there are 3 USA GPs on the yearly schedules. Since Nicky may leave, Spies is questionable for the future, Edwards is an also ran, how can Moto GP races in the USA remain profitable in the near future? We all know professional road racing is not a top sport in the USA. If Nicky doesn’t stay in Moto GP, I don’t see a good future for the world sport in the short term in this USA.

    • Vrooom says:

      I don’t go to a GP to see Hayden, Spies (OK, maybe once) or Edwards (another maybe once), I’ve gone to see Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, etc. I don’t think there are many US fans going to see Hayden, or they’re gluttons for punishment.

  14. bikerrandy says:

    None of us fans know how much Nicky get’s paid for his services in Moto GP. I’ll bet it’s less than we think.

    Moto GP is all about european Nationalism. Not so much about how efficient the riders are. Funny thing is now there are 3 USA GPs on the yearly schedules. Since Nicky may leave, Spies is questionable for the future, Edwards is an also ran, how can Moto GP races in the USA remain profitable in the near future? We all know professional road racing is not a top sport in the USA. If Nicky doesn’t stay in Moto GP, I don’t see a good future for the world sport in the short term.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Funny thing is now there are 3 USA GPs on the yearly schedules.”

      don’t blink.

      • Hot Dog says:

        It’s a crying shame but Indy is on the chopping block. The venue is spectacular, it’s centrally located in the U.S. and the camping is track side. I’ve been to alot of bike races and the Indy Boys know how to put on a show second to none. Most American bike riders have told me they don’t go because it’s nothing but “Foreign Crap” racing there. Come on, with narrow mindedness like that, is it no wonder we’re the brunt of rejection. Go to Indy if you live within 1000 miles, you won’t be disappointed.

        • EZ Mark says:

          I went to the inaugural race in Indy a few years ago.
          The whole infield is tall buildings, completely blocking the view. It’s a spectator sport isn’t it?
          I watched the whole race on the Jumbotron. I can watch it on TV at home for a whole lot less money.

          • Hot Dog says:

            I went to Laguna, and other than it being a SOB to get to, at least you couldn’t watch much of the race because of the curves, people and elevation… Sit on the Corkscrew and see 5 seconds of racing. There’s no comparison, in my view, for watching racing. I sat on turn 1 of Laguna and I could watch them go thru 2 or 3 turns before they were gone. Been there and done that. What do you guys think? Should we dump Indy?

  15. EZ Mark says:

    Get off the Ducati’s Nicky. Their glory days are over.
    Get a ride with Yamaha or Aprilia. BMW is looking pretty serious lately too.
    Biaggi won in WSB in his 40′s. You should do really well there.

  16. goose says:

    I know MotoGP is Nicky’s dream but I hope to see him in WSBK. I’m sick of seeing him work so hard and barely make the top 10.

    If Ducati gets the new bike to work (and is willing to pay) it would be great to see Nicky on a red bike but in front of the pack.

    On the other hand, it would be great to see him back on a miler, all he needs is a Mile win to have an AMA Grand Slam.

    Good luck and thanks for the great rides where ever you wind up Nicky.

    Goose

  17. VLJ says:

    Off the top of my head, I’m hard-pressed to come up with another reigning 500 GP or Moto GP World Champion who was ever treated as shabily as Nicky was by Honda. Yes, Pedroza did seem to be a real up-and-comer, but to regard as an afterthought the loyal guy on the other side of the garage who just ended demi-god Rossi’s monopoly on the championship, and to do so in favor of an unproven youngster?

    I don’t know whether Nicky would in fact have done more with Pedroza’s ride/status with Honda than Pedroza has from 2007 to the present, but I do know he earned the opportunity to show us.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m hard-pressed to come up with another reigning 500 GP or Moto GP World Champion who was ever treated as shabily as Nicky was by Honda”

      surprising the influence of Spanish oil money innit…?

  18. Gary says:

    The Ducati team is where great careers go to die. Hopefully Nicky will get another chance with a decent team. I think he has a few wins left in him. Pity to waste it riding a lead sled.

    • Joe D. says:

      Yeah. It’s too bad the Duc couldn’t cut the mustard against the front runners. What do you think Audi is now going to do with the MotoGP team they got in their $1.12 BILLION purchase of Ducati? Maybe a pushrod VW engine is in the workes.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “What do you think Audi is now going to do with the MotoGP team they got in their $1.12 BILLION purchase of Ducati? Maybe a pushrod VW engine is in the workes.”

        nothing quite so “earth-shattering” LOL, but there is the possibility of following yamaha’s lead and reducing their involvement to engine supplier…?

      • Gary says:

        I don’t think the bike is to blame. Bikes are bits of steel, carbon fiber, plastic and rubber … all bolted together. Ducati has had winning efforts in WSB. They should examine the ingredients in that success and work to recreate it, hiring new managers and engineers that can get the job done. I imagine they are in the early phases of doing exactly that.

        • VLJ says:

          Of course the bike is to blame. When not even the combination of Valentino Rossi/Jeremy Burgess can produce anything resembling a competitive machine (nor has any other rider/engineer combo except Stoner with the long-since abandoned steel trellis frame version), the problem clearly can be traced to the bike itself. Rossi and Dovi were both regular visitors to the podium before taking on the Ducati, as were Nicky Hayden and Marco Melandri, and Rossi is immediately becoming so again.

          It’s not a coincidence.

          Ducati’s winning efforts in WSB? There were primarily the result of displacement rules that were wildly rigged in their favor. They are afforded no such advantage in Moto GP.

          Bottom line, their Moto GP machine these past few seasons simply hasn’t been on the level of their factory competition.

  19. kando says:

    Agree 10000% he should have stayed with Honda or worked with yamaha as ducati has been running pieces of crap for too long. Nicky is a great rider but this many years wasted at ducati won’t find him another GP title.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Woulda, shoulda, coulda. I am sure the opportunity Ducati gave him seemed great at the time. Given what we know in hindsight, I am sure everyone would agree with your statement, including Hayden.

    • Vrooom says:

      Stoner won a championship on that “piece of crap” so I’m sure Nicky was thinking he had potential to do so as well. Turned out Stoner could do miraculous things with a bike.

      • VLJ says:

        Stoner won a championship on the previous iteration, which featured Ducati’s traditional steel trellis frame. He stuggled mightily on the next version; the same version with which no else has been able to do anything.

  20. Halfbaked says:

    I had always hopped there would be a MotoCzysz C1 for Nicky to ride when he left Ducati.

  21. Joe D. says:

    I think Nicky has had enough pasta to last a life-time. I think developmental stint aboard a Bratwurst 1000RR in WSB would be just the ticket.

  22. George says:

    Nicky never got the support he deserved at Honda and Ducati has stunk in Hayden’s tenure. I don’t blame Nicky for the foul performance either.

    If Jeremy/Vale duo can’t fix Ducati’s ills, it can’t be fixed.

    I suspect Ducati refused to redesign the bike the way Jeremy/Vale requested. Seems very stupid on Ducati’s part, they hired the best race engineer and one of the best racers of all time and then seemed to ignore their feedback…

    Back on topic: Nicky, hate to seem him leave MotoGP but I’d rather see him in WSBK on a competitive bike than on a CRT machine tooling around in 12th or worse in a MotoGP race.

    I think Nicky is still fast enough to win but he seems like his spirit is broken at Ducati.

    • kevinj says:

      You are exactly right. Honda shafted Nicky when Pedrosa showed up with his dumb@ss manager Puig. Then he goes to Ducati and does yeoman work trying to make that bike competitive. Look at the lists of riders who couldn’t ride that bike – Nicky has nothing to be ashamed of. And the whole time he has been there he has been an absolute class act. No whining, just riding. How many other GP riders can you say that about? I hope he gets a good ride in World Superbike – nobody deserves it more. I would be hesitant to go with Ducati in that class, they are just in disarray. Good Luck Nicky!!!

    • Tim says:

      You’re right, he never got the support from Honda that he deserved. He won the title, and prior to the next season they developed the new bike taylored to the smaller Pedrosa, thinking he was the up and comer. How many titles does Dani have? I’ve never understood how or why Honda abandoned their World Champion the season after he won the title.

      I wonder if Honda really wants to take the spotlight off the rider and put it on the bike? They failed to re-sign Rossi after he won titles for them, despite the fact that he was in his prime and despite the fact that Honda has the deepest pockets of all the factory teams. I really think they want the attention on the bike, and not on the star riders.

      Maybe Hayden could sign with the Suzuki team? He would be a very good catch for them. It isn’t clear how competitive their bike will be, so they could use an experienced guy with Nicky’s name recognition. They won’t race until 2015, but maybe he could do a year of WSB, then come back?

      • goose says:

        Nicky has suffered enough at Ducati, putting on a Suzuki MotoGP would be cruel.

        Goose

      • MGNorge says:

        No manufacturer wants it ALL on the rider either! Winning tends to get the prospective buyer’s juices flowing and the closer they can make buyers think they’re getting close to what they saw racing, the better. MotoGP has a tough time since there are not typically street based versions.
        I think Honda does a good job in spot lighting their riders but also seeing that at or close to the front of the pack every week doesn’t hurt either.

  23. Norm G. says:

    I was on about him going to WSB before he resigned this 1 year deal for MotoGP. sure would like it to be on the “Panini”, but that’s not etched in stone. following the sykes/kwak model, just has to be competitive kit with a manufacture willing to go all in. hell, that could even be Suzuki…! LOL the only question left is how “tied” will a manufacturers hands be in the austerity era…?

    • Halfbaked says:

      I’m confused by your post maybe it’s the language barrier but could you explain “Panini” and the sykes/kwak model. Also what does the austerity era have to do with WSB racing?

      • Bud says:

        It’s not the language barrier, he just babbles.

        • DeltaZulu says:

          Bud – You nailed it… Babbles – lol! Blowfish KIA, we call him, but Mr. Babbles is good, too!

          • Hot Dog says:

            Boys, boys! Tsk tsk, well give him a boot for me too.

          • Norm G. says:

            ever notice, how “name calling” is typical behavior when an individual (marine, civilian, or other) is simply EMBARASSED by their own ignorance…? interesting :)

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Norm’s perspective is always unique and often insightful. He is typically good natured, as well. Much appreciate his participation. You, on the other hand, need to leave out the name calling (unless you can certify that you are still in grade school).

          • Hot Dog says:

            Direk, he does throw gasoline on the campfire, that much you must admit.

          • Dirck Edge says:

            Maybe not gasoline … but he stokes the flames.

      • Krisd says:

        “Panini” = 1199 Panigale….
        Dude- Norm G is one blogger standout that writes sense…..well, most of the time :-)

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “I’m confused by your post maybe it’s the language barrier”

        English is not your 1st…?

        re: “could you explain “Panini”

        slang for panigale. see derogatory references by others using “PIGnail”, “PIGnale”, etc.

        Q: “what does the austerity era have to do with WSB racing?”

        A: someone hasn’t been paying attention. WSBK is under the thumb of ezpelata. google is your friend.

      • Dave says:

        “Panini” = Ducati, presumably WSBK

        sykes/kwak model – team/rider committed to developing a new bike/program.

  24. Jeremy in TX says:

    With the other big teams already stocked with good riders, it is hard to imagine he’ll get an offer in GP. Unless Kawasaki or Suzuki intend to be in the game big next year and fish for him, Hayden will most likely go to WSB.

  25. starmag says:

    What a shame. The only American near the top. What could have been? I hope you got paid well Nicky, because the Ducati vampire sucked the life out of your title hopes. You ran even with and beat Rossi last year, he switches bikes and now he’s at the front with the best. I think you could be at the front also. The other Honda spot should be you, not always-a-bridesmaid Pedrosa.

  26. Ryan M says:

    Hey, look at Biaggi..he went on to a great career with Superbike.

    I think it would be great to see Hayden in WSB

  27. Rob says:

    The Ducati doesn’t have a competitive bike and that’s why Nicky hasn’t done better. He really got shafted by Honda when they built a bike for Pedrosa and I am convinced that had he been on a Yamaha he would have at least been finishing in the top 3.

    If he goes to WSB he’s going to win. Guarantee.

    • gper says:

      not sure about that, his frame is so big (weight) and his american dirt-track style didn’t suit the 800 yammy which really loved corner speed.

      i think the biggest thing that shafted him was the move to 800cc (although i totally agree honda didn’t help by designing for pedrosa, thanks puig).

    • raivkka says:

      It’s obvious the bike is not competitive. The lap times for Dovi and Nicky’s Ducati’s are approximately the same which tells me the riders are riding the bike to it’s limit. It would be different if Dovi’s times were 1 or 1.5 seconds faster than Nicky’s but they are not. Same last year with Rossi and Nicky, both of their times were very similar.