Honda confirm Nicky Hayden departure

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Honda has confirmed that Nicky Hayden will no longer ride for its official factory team, with Ducati expected to officially announce today that the American will partner Casey Stoner in 2009.

Hayden had revealed he would be leaving Honda at the end of the season during the pre-event press conference for the Indianapolis GP, where he claimed his first podium of the campaign with second.

The Kentucky rider has spent his entire MotoGP career with HRC, joining Valentino Rossi in the Repsol squad back in 2003. He has won three races – twice on home soil in Laguna Seca -  but the undoubted highlight was his dramatic final race win over Rossi ti clinch the 2006 world title.

Hayden said: “I’ve been with Honda a long time. I owe a big thanks to everybody who’s ever worked with me at Honda, from my AMA days to my rookie year in MotoGP, right up to now. I’ve worked with a lot of great people at HRC, Honda and Repsol too. It was always my big dream as a kid to race for this team.

"It’s something I’ve enjoyed a lot. I want to thank everybody there, all the guys from tyre technicians to crew chiefs and all the way up. Sure, it hasn’t just been one big holiday, along the way there’s been some tough days but a lot of good days too.

Winning the World Championship was by far the highlight of my career so far, plus I won a couple championships in America with Honda, the Supersport championship, the Superbike title and the Daytona 200.

"And I won some dirt track with Honda too: I won Springfield short track twice, the Peoria TT, in all four Grand National dirt tracks. Winning MotoGP rookie of the year in 2003 was quite an achievement against Bayliss, Edwards and Melandri, that was something I was pretty proud of.

And of course my two MotoGP wins at Laguna were awesome experiences. I’d just like to thank everyone, and the best way to thank them is to put up some results these last few races. That’s the plan.”

An announcement confirming his Ducati switch will be released later today.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt