MCN MotoGP reporter Matt Birt is at the Japanese Grand Prix, and broke the news Nicky Hayden had signed for Honda for a further two years. Want to know more and read Matt's insight into the news?
Decisions, decisions, decisions - Hayden finally signs
So Nicky Haydens protracted contract saga finally came to an end tonight when HRC confirmed it had agreed a new two-year contract with the American.
Its hardly a big shock, as while negotiations have been going on for weeks, Nicky has made no secret that his preferred option was to remain at Honda. And that was despite rumours that he could have doubled his money by switching to Yamaha. The final contract was agreed at noon today and Nicky signed 30 minutes after hed finished fifth in todays final free practice session. We have got an exclusive interview with him tomorrow so catch that in next weeks MCN.
Signing at least means Nicky will get to test Hondas new 800 machine on Monday, and hes now got no other distractions in his quest to end Valentino Rossis reign as MotoGP king. Despite what he might have saying in public, the longer the issue dragged on then the longer it would have been playing on his mind. And with a formidable opponent like Rossi bearing down on him in the standings, Nicky had enough on his plate contending with that side of the job.
Speaking to HRC president Suguru Kanazawa tonight at a special technical presentation of the RCV where Nickys deal was announced he was never worried that Nicky would follow Rossi into the arms of Yamaha. Nicky was obviously holding out for exactly what he wanted from HRC though and only signed when he got what he wanted. And by not joining Yamaha, he showed it wasnt all about the money.
Apparently Yamaha bosses are furious that they've missed out on signing Hayden for the second time. Sounds like they really thought they had him snared this time, as now they have to go cap in hand to offer Colin Edwards a job having also failed to clinch a deal with Casey Stoner earlier in the year. It will be interesting to get some reaction tomorrow.
Id imagine Colin will be buying Nicky a beer the next time he bumps him. Had Hayden signed for Yamaha, the Texas Tornado was out, and Id heard a pretty sound rumour that he was being lined up to join Troy Bayliss in Ducatis factory World Superbike squad. That would have made some team in WSB eh?
Bizarrely we got an impromptu chat with Colin at the circuit hotel tonight for his initial thoughts. Thats where Nickys deal was announced, and I legged it to a computer in the hotel reception to file a quick story to our website boys. Now thats tough when my e-mail came up with the writing all in Japanese, so Id no idea whether it had actually been sent.
Desperate to check the office received it, I suddenly remembered one of the pitfalls of being in Japan means my mobile phone doesnt work. Luckily, Colins sidekick Pete was in the lobby, and he said I could blag the phone in Colins room, so while filing the story on Nicky I picked up a few early comments from Colin while he was chilling on his bed watching TV.
Now Nicky has signed it seems that a few other things might start to falling into place fairly soon, though it crushes the hopes of Marco Melandri and Casey Stoner of joining Dani Pedrosa in the Repsol Honda team. They were the obvious prime candidates to replace Nicky, and now they must continue to wait while their respective Italian team bosses try and finalise their own plans.
With the rumours about his Honda ride rife in the paddock, I caught up with Shinya Nakano and Kawasaki team boss Harald Eckl, but both said nothing would be decided until the Japanese rider meets bosses on Monday or Tuesday.
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