Nicky Hayden confirms Honda split.
Thursday, 11th September 2008
Nicky Hayden confirms the worst kept secret in MotoGP - that he won't be riding for Honda next season.
During the pre-event press conference at Indianapolis, 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden confirmed that he won't be riding for Honda next season and gave a revealing glimpse into life at HRC's factory team.
Hayden, who has been with Repsol Honda since his 2003 MotoGP debut, will join Ducati Marlboro next season, where he will ride alongside 2007 world champion Casey Stoner - although the move is still to be officially announced.
"It's looking like World Superbike with Aprilia," Hayden joked, when asked about 2009.
"It's no secret; everybody knows where my next stop is going to be," continued Nicky, without actually naming Ducati. "But officially we're waiting on to do it the right way until the releases come out because there's teams and stuff.
"I'm looking forward to it. I know it's going to be a big change for me, and hopefully probably in the next, you know, [the] announcement will be coming soon.
"I have had a long history with Honda, and I don't have - sure, things here lately have kind of went, you know, kind of turned ugly with everything going on, all the drama. But still, we've had a lot of good races together, won championships in the AMA , and obviously the world championship was the big one.
"Sure, every day wasn't just a big holiday but we had some good days, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity they gave me. But I think it's, you know, it's time to move on, try something different. But we'll worry about that later and for now just focus on this weekend and try to go out in a good way together."
Many consider that Hayden hasn't received the backing he deserves from Honda since the arrival of former 125 and double 250cc world champion Dani Pedrosa in 2006 - and cite the Spaniard's shock mid-season switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres as a prime example of the power Pedrosa and his supporters yield within the team.
Pedrosa will make his Bridgestone debut this weekend at Indianapolis, while Hayden confirmed that he was never asked about the possibility of changing tyre brands - adding that the new wall dividing the Repsol pits, in order to protect tyre data, is nothing new.
"Well, I mean that's quite a touchy subject, but I mean, I was shocked like everybody else - but no, I wasn't asked and I just kind of heard it on the street," said Hayden of Pedrosa's tyre change. "In Misano before the race they told me. I couldn't, you know -- yeah, I think I couldn't believe it, like everyone else. So, yeah, I'm not really sure what's there to say.
"Don't really change a whole lot for me. You know, it's one less rider on Michelin, which I think hurts. It's getting close to being spec tyre now, you know. There's really only five or six guys left that aren't on Bridgestone. So, yeah, it really don't change a whole lot other than the wall down the middle of the garage. Honestly, there was already a bit of a wall there. So not a lot's changed," he declared.
The rather bleak image of life at Repsol Honda continued when Hayden was asked if he might leave the team before the end of the season.
Hayden stated his determination to see out the remainder of the year "unless they lock the door on me" something that he said "could happen" and that if it did some people in the team "probably would never notice."
"I expect - I mean unless they tell me, no, I don't have any intention not to do the rest of the season," replied Hayden. "I mean that seems crazy. I honestly haven't really - that's what people thought after Misano and everything had happened, but no, I plan on - I owe it to Honda to go out. I think they know that, at least the guys in my team know I'm not going to lay down until the very end, until Valencia.
"So, no, I fully plan on doing the whole season unless they lock the door over there on me, I plan on going in there and getting on the bike. (Laughter). That could happen. I mean, you know. There's probably people in that box that if I didn't show up probably would never notice. (Laughter). But I plan on going.
"I'm not trying to be funny or give one-liners," insisted Nicky.
"No, that was funny. (Laughter)," quipped Colin Edwards.
Meanwhile, Hayden now has five races left with which to try and claim a podium finish on the pneumatic-valve RC212V, which Pedrosa will also ride this weekend.
Hayden, who hasn't won a race since 2006 and has taken a best finish of fourth so far this season, missed the last two rounds due to a heel injury sustained on a Supermoto bike at the X Games on August 1.
Hayden's heal remains in a protective boot and he walks with the aid of crutches, but the Kentuckian will be doing his best in front of his home fans and is desperate to try and resurrect something from "the worst season of his career".
"It's all right; it's a little bit better than Misano, for sure. This track going left will be a lot better, but honestly I hoped to be more healed," he said. "I had some doctors saying it's going to take a while and being a racer you think, no, and go get another opinion and find somebody who says I'll be all right quicker.
"It's taken awhile, and it's just the wrong part of the foot that I broke. It's been slow but, yeah, I'll be all right here this weekend going left. So it's certainly been another tough year for me and probably the worst, honestly, if I'm honest, probably the worst season of my career so far.
"So things change quick in racing and no better time to try to turn it around than right here at home. I know we have a few things going against us, but hopefully this weekend coming to the track - I think racing inside an oval, this feels natural to me. I grew up Vegas, Daytona, a lot of tracks inside an oval like this. So should feel pretty comfortable," he declared.
Nicky Hayden confirms Honda split. | MOTOGP News | Crash.Net