Ducati has announced in Laguna Seca this morning that American rider Nicky Hayden has signed a new one-year deal with its factory MotoGP squad.
The 2006 world champion has signed a deal for 2013 with an option for the 2014 world championship campaign, as was first revealed by MCN on Twitter yesterday (Thursday).
The Kentucky rider, who turns 31 on Monday, said: “I’m very happy that I’ll be back with Ducati and back in MotoGP, racing at the highest level for a very important team. I love the guys I work with, I love the Ducati fans, and I love the brand. This is an important time for Ducati in a number of ways, and I’m excited that I’ll continue to be a part of it. I feel like I’ve got some unfinished business here, and hopefully we can get all the pieces into place and reap the rewards of the hard work we’ve put in the last couple of years. It’s nice to be able to make this announcement at Laguna and to share the moment with my fans, friends and family. If I can do a good result on Sunday, it could make for a pretty special birthday weekend.”
Hayden’s new deal completes a turnaround in fortunes for the 2006 world champion, who recently feared his Ducati future was in doubt.
Ducati’s priority has always been to get Valentino Rossi to sign a new two-year deal and management then engaged in lengthy negotiations with British rider Cal Crutchlow.
Hayden’s place on a GP13 Desmosedici appeared in serious doubt but he held positive talks with Audi executives during the recent Italian Grand Prix at Mugello and yesterday it became clear that terms on a new deal had been agreed.
With Hayden now signed, attention will now turn to the future of current team-mate Rossi.
Speculation is rife in Laguna Seca that the Italian will quit Ducati and complete a shock move back to the Yamaha factory squad he left at the end of 2010.
The shock announcement from Ben Spies earlier this week that he will quit Yamaha at the end of 2012 has only increased speculation that Rossi will be back on a YZR-M1 next year.
If Rossi does move to Yamaha then Crutchlow is still likely to be an option to leave the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad and join Hayden.
But Hayden, who has scored just three podium finishes in his Ducati career, said: “I haven’t really asked and I really don’t know. I’m sure if I got on the Internet I could find five different names but I really don’t know. I hope Valentino stays and we can make it all work. But with Ben leaving it makes you…… If Ben knew he was staying I can’t believe he would announce he is leaving. But it doesn’t make a big difference to me.”
For nine pages of exclusive news from the Laguna Seca MotoGP round, see the August 1 issue of MCN.