Nicky Hayden’s priority might be to secure a factory prototype ride for the 2014 MotoGP campaign, but the popular American is currently weighing up potential options in World Superbikes.
The 2006 world champion’s place at Ducati is under serious threat again, with the Bologna factory locked in fresh talks with on form British rider Cal Crutchlow to partner Andrea Dovizioso next season.
Hayden has made no secret of his desire to stay on a factory Desmosedici next year for what would be a sixth premier class campaign with Ducati.
The former Repsol Honda rider told MCN in Germany today that he has not been told by Ducati that he doesn’t have a future with the struggling Italian brand, which is currently unable to get close to the dominant performance level of HRC and Yamaha.
Keeping his options open in case his MotoGP career is coming to an end, the Kentucky rider is seriously look at a World Superbike switch.
He denied today (Thursday) that he has talked to Ducati about racing a factory Panigale in WSB next year and sources claim the interest in Hayden is coming from Kawasaki and BMW.
Hayden said: “I have had some contact from WSB teams and I am interested. I would love to stay in MotoGP on the right bike and the right team but at the moment it doesn’t look so good. I want to keep racing, so I might have to look somewhere else and I have to look at what my options are and take the one I feel is the best.
My first choice would be to stay in MotoGP on a prototype bike. I still believe I can run at the front. I saw Valentino (Rossi) win in Assen and that only confirmed that. I spent two years with him and I was very competitive and I am very competitive with Dovi too and he was on the podium a lot last year. I was in front of him in Assen for the whole race until he put a move on me at the last corner. I believe I can still be here but I need to see if I have that opportunity.”
When asked by MCN whether Ducati had indicated a preference to sign another rider for its factory squad in 2014, he added: “No I haven’t been told that but I haven’t really had much feedback the other way either.”
Hayden’s fortunes in MotoGP have nosedived with Ducati’s failure to roll out a competitive Desmosedici challenger but give the opportunity he told MCN he would happily sign a contract extension.
“I believe in Ducati and the guys I work with are incredible. It is not like I have given up on this at all, not even for a second. I’d love to stay here if that was possible and there is no reason why this team and this company can’t win again in MotoGP. Right now is not the best moment and things need to improve but the potential is there, “said Hayden.
Should Hayden switch to World Superbikes then he could potentially create history by becoming the first rider to win MotoGP and WSB titles.
He said: “It has crossed my mind but it is not my first goal. It would not be a bad little thing. I haven’t been to a WSB race in years so I’m not a good guy to comment on the level. It is a good championship and there are factories involved, so there is a lot to play for. I don’t think it would be easy to just jump in there after 10 years here (in MotoGP) and I am sure it will be a big challenge.”