Earlier in the summer Ducati announced that the American would not remain with the squad for 2014, with Cal Crutchlow subsequently confirmed, and since then there have been lots of rumours about where Hayden will ride.
The 2006 world champion has admitted to speaking to various teams in both MotoGP and World Superbike and while his ambition is to stay in MotoGP a recent test aboard the Ducati World Superbike has fanned the flames to rumours linking him with a move to the series.
Speaking at Misano ahead of this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix, Hayden said that the WSBK test was arranged earlier in the summer to give him an idea of what a contemporary Superbike was like to ride.
“We had planned that in the summer break if I hadn’t signed anything that I’d ride the Superbike,” said Hayden. “I enjoyed the experience, I only had a half day on the bike because I didn’t to get too comfortable on the bike and then have to come back here and take time to readjust to MotoGP.
“It’s been a long time since I rode a Superbike but it’s something that I’m glad that I did. Superbikes don’t race at Mugello but we know that it was pretty quick. It’s a long time since I rode a Superbike so I don’t have anything to compare it to.”
The former AMA Superbike champion has had numerous one-off Superbike outings at the Suzuka Eight Hours, but 2002 was the last time that the American raced a Superbike full time and he clearly is not fazed by the prospect of returning to the production based series:
“There wasn’t anything crazy with the bike that I don’t think I could manage [to adapt to]. I come from Superbikes so I think that it could be an easier chance of going back to it. I grew up on those bikes so I don’t see a problem.”
But even though Hayden enjoyed the experience, he again made clear that his primary goal is to remain in MotoGP, even though the prospect of winning races on a consistent basis in WSBK has been weighing on his mind:
“If I can stay here on something good that’s what I want to do but if not then I’m interested in Superbike. I’ve certainly thought about that and I know that’s the reality and the thought of winning sounds very exciting but I don’t want to give up on my dream in MotoGP.
“I think that I could go to Superbikes in a year or two because I know that once you leave MotoGPyou don’t normally come back. The thought of being on a good bike and winning is exciting but would it mean as much as winning in grand prix? I know that winning is winning but on a different level how much of a buzz do you get still get from it?”
Hayden has been linked with the privateer Honda Production racer but that is likely to be dependent on Honda America funding the ride. And with no definite word forthcoming about the deal the most concrete options for Hayden, apart from Ducati in WSBK, remain Forward Racing and Aprilia.
Hayden admitted that he visited Aprilia’s Noale factory and came away impressed, while on Thursday Forward’s Giovanni Cuzari confirmed that he is in discussions with Hayden and Aleix Espargaro for the team’s 2014 privateer Yamaha seats:
“As everybody knows we are speaking to a few riders including Nicky Hayden and Aleix Espargaro,” said Cuzari