HRC management has thanked Nicky Hayden for his contribution to its MotoGP effort after the Japanese factory released the 2006 world champion.
Hayden will move to Ducati in 2009, with Italian Andrea Dovizioso moving to join Dani Pedrosa in the Repsol-backed factory team.
Hayden is the last man to win a premier class world title for Honda, and he has been a loyal servant to HRC since he first switched to MotoGP in 2003.
HRC president Masumi Hamane says: “We wish to thank Nicky for all he has achieved for Honda both as a rider and a man. Nicky and Honda have shared much success and a few disappointing days but in each case Nicky has always behaved cheerfully and has led the team in a positive way. His warm-hearted character has been much loved by all who have worked with him.
"Together we have won two AMA titles and the most important title of all, the MotoGP World Championship. Nicky raced the 990cc RC211V with great success but since the technical regulations reduced MotoGP engine capacity to 800cc, both Nicky and HRC have tried our best but we have been unable to find the best balance between rider and machine necessary for Nicky to show his full potential, so we have decided to part company at the end of the season.
"We want to thank Nicky who always tried positively under tough conditions. We respect him for his brave challenging spirit. We wish Nicky good luck for the future with his new challenge. Nicky is a good guy loved by all, but also he is a tough competitor and I am sure he will be tough to beat next season."
Repsol Honda team manager Kazuhiko Yamano, speaking on behalf of the HRC’s hands-on racing personnel, says: “On behalf of HRC employees past and present, both engineering and software staff, I wish to thank Nicky for all he has done for Honda and our racing teams.
"The success he has brought to Honda is well recorded but has also made a valuable contribution to our race development projects. Nicky has been an excellent ambassador for Honda, his genuine polite and friendly personality has made him a favourite with racing people, the media and race fans wherever he goes. Nicky is a racer, a tough man on track and always a gentleman with whom it has been a pleasure to work.
"He always gives 100 per cent to everything he does. He won two AMA national roadrace titles for Honda before joining the Repsol Honda MotoGP team to race the 990cc RC211V. Nicky and the RCV were the perfect rider/machine combination and together they won the 2006 MotoGP World Championship. We all wish Nicky good luck and success with his new challenge he will be a fierce rival for our team in 2009.”