Nicky Hayden: WSB switch was serious option

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Nicky Hayden says he was seriously tempted to try and become the first rider in racing history to win both the MotoGP and World Superbike titles in 2014.

Released by Ducati’s official factory squad after a frustrating five-year stint, the popular American contemplated a WSB switch before extending his MotoGP career with a move to the Spanish-based Aspar squad.

Hayden will ride a new production Honda RCV1000R in 2014 alongside ex-250GP world champion Hiroshi Aoyama, but he said the prospect of moving to WSB was an option he seriously considered.

The 2006 MotoGP world champion told MCN: “I really did look closely at World Superbikes and I really had a big decision to make. I did some research but my heart was still in MotoGP and it kept coming back to wanting to stay there and have some fun again in a good situation.

"I have a lot of respect for World Superbikes and to be the first rider to possibly win them both was something I still do think about, but not for next year.”

For a time in the summer, Hayden was linked with a move to BMW in World Superbikes, but that was one of the only options he never even spoke about.

The 32-year-old added: “I had some normal discussions to see what was out there and talked money with a couple of teams. I was taking it serious and not just using them. It was funny at one stage because one of the few teams I didn’t talk to was BMW and that was the one everybody thought was going on.”

Hayden was offered the opportunity to remain with Ducati by switching to a Panigale seat in World Superbikes.

But asked if he felt he needed a complete break from the Bologna factory after a troubled final year on the struggling Desmosedici, he said: “I was torn both ways. I did have some good things at Ducati with a lot of friends. But I was a little bit bitter that they didn’t want me in MotoGP but they were giving me a superbike offer.

"I rode the bike and considered it with them and we know in superbike Ducati has a good history. At that time there was a different leader and one reason I didn’t go down that road was because I thought it would more of what is going on in MotoGP now over there.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt