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Nicky Hayden Moving to WSB Next Year

After 13 years in the Premier class, 2006 MotoGP champ Nicky Hayden will move over to the WSB championship next year as a member of the Ten Kate Honda team.

Hayden’s MotoGP career was mixed with considerable success and failure. After proving his ability to win races, and taking the 2006 MotoGP crown for Honda, Hayden moved to the Ducati factory team and began a long struggle for competitive results. The Ducati was notoriously difficult to ride (effectively ending Marco Melandri’s MotoGP career), and the lack of results stained Hayden’s reputation in the class. This despite the fact Hayden essentially matched teammate Valentino Rossi when Rossi rode for the Italian squad over a two year period.

Rossi, of course, moved back to a competitive bike and now leads the championship, while Hayden moved from Ducati to an Open Honda that could not compete with the factory rides. Here is what Hayden had to say to the press earlier today in Motegi:

Nicky Hayden: “Well this will be my last year in MotoGP as I’ll be moving to World Superbike next year with Honda and the Ten Kate team. That’s about all there is to it, not a lot more and nothing too dramatic! These last two years have been not so good and I wasn’t in a position to get the result to keep a high level bike in MotoGP. I’ve always thought SBK might be something I want to try, I liked the racing there, the opportunity felt like a good fit.”

“I’m getting a bit older but I still enjoy the sport and the game. It’ll be a fresh challenge and a new opportunity to go there and have some more fun. Of course I’ll miss MotoGP and I’ve had a great opportunity here and been part of some great teams and worked with some great people but nothing lasts forever and we gotta keep moving, go to SBK with Honda and hopefully have some fun.”

45 Comments

  1. PatrickD says:

    The Honda WSB effort, as half hearted as it may be, can at least muster a couple of podiums throughout the year. Nicky’s bike this year? He’s need everyone to fall down to show a result.
    He’s got a big problem on his hands with van Der Mark. The first rule is to beat that guy, which isn’t going to be easy. In fact, he mightn’t get past him at all, given his fairly explosive rookie year.
    But it’ll gladden many hearts if/when he steps onto the podium next. Laguna Seca next year?

  2. DaveA says:

    The deal was contingent upon a guarantee that there is a new bike coming for season 2 of Nicky’s contract. When you think of Nicky’s loyalty, remember that American Honda is a different entity than Honda. The ride Nicky has now in MotoGP was made possible for him by American Honda, and it’s American Honda that Nioky is loyal to.

    I really hope that the 2017 bike will be good enough that Nicky will want to go for another contract to give the proper time to develop the bike and have a chance to win on it, as I think he still has the talent, and I think everyone agrees, the drive, to succeed.

    Good luck 69!

  3. Jim says:

    Hayden is a good guy and I wish him the best in this endeavor, it could not have been an easy step.

  4. motobell says:

    WHY? WHY? I believe Nicky is still one of the top riders and capable of a WSBK CHAMPIONship but this is stupid decision to go with Honda – career over. Thanks Nicky! great for many us who remember you rising through AMA to motogp – i dont want to see you fighting midpack – this is worst decision – even worse then the open honda – really wish you were on the aprilia.

  5. Norm G. says:

    like the move but don’t like his chances. who knows, Honda’s finally shown they’ve got a pulse with the RCV, so maybe they’ll actually do something…? with the rule changes, the Blade really doesn’t require much to be competitive. I think the current iteration is still a very fresh/good looking design, it just needs to homologate a ‘top-end makeover”. dimensionally, the Blade and the Zed are the same bike (76×55). team green’s shown that bore/stroke ratio not only works, but can DOMINATE.

  6. Provologna says:

    Nicky seems like one of the most loyal and devoted employees any mc company could ever hope to find. Wishing him only the best. If he can’t get a competitive bike, I hope his team pays him very well, and he leaves the stage safe and in the best health to enjoy the rest of his life.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Nicky seems like one of the most loyal and devoted employees any mc company could ever hope to find.”

      in the words of Kenny Roberts, that and $2 bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

  7. Grover says:

    If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay off the porch!

    • Grover says:

      Stay on the porch?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Stay on the porch?”

        no, you had it right the first time, better to stay off. if you’re on the porch you’ll only see the big dogs frolicking to and fro and that could be depressing.

  8. Gng says:

    Unless Honda builds Hayden a bike that will be head and shoulders above the other bikes throughout a full season, Hayden will not become a world champion in WSBK.

    • Roland says:

      There is a rumor about Fireblade replacement coming in 2017.
      Fair chance that Honda is serious about grabbing a WSBK title with the new bike.
      No doubt Nicky will be assigned extensive development work for it in 2016.

      No one has ever won both MotoGP and WSBK championships.
      If anyone’s gonna acheive that, Honda would surely love to have that happen on their bike.
      And a high profile rider like Nicky doing that would do wonders in terms of marketing.
      I bet he’ll get serious support from Honda this time.
      IMO this is a right move at the right time. I wish him luck.
      WSBK needs more riders like Hayden.

  9. Thud says:

    Hmmm, what is the future for Americans in motogp?? Is there any hope? Can Spies come out of retirement??

  10. Jeckyll says:

    New Honda next year, so hopefully he will be on a competitive machine.

    With Yamaha coming back to WSB and Honda finally updated the ‘fireblade’, hopefully we’ll have some good competitive racing.

  11. hh says:

    Nicky H is a great rider with a superbike style, he should have gone back years ago, just as Edwards should have. Do wonder if Honda has the bike and if Yamaha steps back in what will that do?

  12. Blackcayman says:

    Fair thee well!

  13. Pete says:

    Wonder why Edwards didn’t go years ago. Been there, done that I guess. You would think racing for W’s would be better than racing for 15th. Either way I think it will be great to have Hayden in WSB. Go Nicky!! Now we just need to get Spies back there.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “Wonder why Edwards didn’t go years ago.”

      I think it is just the stigma of a demotion. MotoGP is considered the cream of the crop – the best riders on the best bikes. It is like quitting a major league team that isn’t competitive so that you can be more competitive in the minors. There just aren’t many takers for that kind of thing. Poor Hayden is going from a losing team in the majors to a losing team in the minors which means this was probably the only deal on the table for him that didn’t require a tie and a microphone.

      I wish him the best, though. Hopefully, Honda will deliver a competitive WSBK machine to him soon. Or who knows: maybe he will actually be competitive on the current Honda and shut everybody up?

      • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

        I think it is more than thinking of it as a demotion. Stepping down would mean less salary and probably losing sponsors (and that money). His sponsors were already sponsoring competitive riders in WSBK. Why be redundant?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Honestly, I doubt he was making much more in the lowest caste of MotoGP as he stands to make in WSBK. In fact, if he can deliver, he’ll make a lot more WSBK.

  14. Vrooom says:

    Thank god. Watching Nicky continually race to 15th place finishes is no fun. He’ll be competitive in WSB hopefully, and get back to being in the mix. Wish it happened a few years ago.

    • Alex says:

      Yeah, it’s about damn time. It will be interesting to see how he adapts.

    • VLJ says:

      Don’t count on Nicky being all that competitive in WSB either, not while riding a Honda. The disparity between his bike and the leaders won’t be as ridiculously futile as it’s been in MotoGP these past half dozen years, but the antiquated Pata WSB CBR1000RR is not a threat to the leading Kawasakis, Aprilias, and Ducatis.

      Case in point, Aprilia-mounted Sylvain Guintoli won the championship last year. This year, after moving to Honda, he finds himself occupying a desultory sixth place in the standings. He’s managed only one podium finish and zero wins, compared to sixteen podiums and five wins last season. Unless it’s a wet race he has no chance at a podium, never mind a win. The same goes for his teammate, and they’re the only Honda riders in the series.

      Conversely, Johnathan Rea is almost unbeatable this year on his factory Kawasaki. He was good last year on the Honda, finishing a distant third in the championship, but I highly doubt he became that much better of a rider over the offseason. No, the difference was simply the swapping of rides. The same goes for his Honda teammate in 2014, Leon Haslam. He finished in seventh place last year, with only one podium and no wins. This year, riding for Aprilia, he’s garnered eight podiums, including a race victory.

      Unless Honda comes out with an all new ride for 2016, Nicky doesn’t stand a chance of finishing any higher than mid-pack. To put it plainly, he will not be on a competitive bike.

      Same ol’, same ol’.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        That is the sad truth. Honda doesn’t have a competitive bike for WSBK right now. Their effort goes into MotoGP while Aprilia and Kawasaki in particular are really invested in WSBK. Apparently Yamaha is going to be throwing down the gauntlet in WSB next year as well.

        We’ve been reading about the possibility of a new V4 sport bike from Honda in the near future. Maybe, just maybe, Hayden will have an interesting ride if not for the upcoming season, then the next.

        If Hayden has more than two lackluster seasons in WSBK, his career is over.

        • VLJ says:

          Guintoli’s career basically ended when he moved from Aprilia to Honda. At his relatively advanced age, his competitive-ride window is about to close.

          Nicky is in the same boat. From the moment he went to Ducati his chances of ever landing a top ride again were finished. There is no way to reverse the downward spiral, not without a Spanish or Italian passport, anyway. His only shot now at redemption would be a Max Biaggi-style conquering of WSB, and that can only happen if Honda does a complete about-face and decides to give a crap again about that series and hand Nicky a bike that’s fully capable of winning.

          Heard anything from the EICMA show, MCN or anywhere else regarding a new-from-the-ground-up CBR1000RR for 2016? Nope. Neither have I. It ain’t happening, at least not for the 2016 model year/race season.

          It has to happen for the 2017 model year or you’re right, his time on the world stage will be over.

        • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

          Honda and a V4 sport bike rumours have already been squashed directly by Honda.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            That’s just what they want you to think, Bob. Haha! Oh, well. That is too bad if that is indeed the case.

      • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

        AIMExpo is next week. We’ll know then how Nicky’s season will go based on what they bring to the show. Such a shame if he goes from the worst bike in GP to the worst bike in WSBK.

        I hated how a champion like Loris Capirossi died such an undignified GP death by finishing last in the final seasons of his career. I really liked him aboard the 500 and 990.

        I fear Nicky’s death will be worse. Loris at least finished last in the premier class. Because of that bike and team, Nicky will probably finish last in the next best class.

      • Scott says:

        Rumor has it there’s going to be an all-new CBR1000 in 2017. We can only hope that Honda got down on their knees and promised Nicky it’ll be a championship-caliber bike. Honda has already screwed Nicky twice. Yet he remains loyal to them. There must be a payoff somewhere…

    • JVB says:

      Guintoli should be an example of what will happen to Nicky. On top of moving to an average Honds in SBK, Yamaha is jumping back into SBK, so that will bump the Old Honda back down the finishing results at least 2 more spots. If Nicky isn’t riding the RC, then his chances to shine are minimal.

      Since I did not grow up a “Honda-guy” Nicky was never on my radar years ago. Through his hard work and dedication he exhibited in Moto GP, I came to respect him. I’d rather see him exit professional racing like Bayless instead of Spencer.

      • Dave says:

        Re: ” If Nicky isn’t riding the RC”

        That’s my question. Is the RC-213 “Superbike” legal for WSBK?