American Nicky Hayden has spoken of his excitement and anticipation at returning to Honda when preparations for the 2014 MotoGP world championship commence in Valencia next week.
The 2006 world champion will make his debut on the new production Honda RCV1000R machine during next week’s three-day test session in Spain after he ended a miserable five-year stint at Ducati by joining the Aspar squad.
Hayden has only finished in the top six twice in a nightmare final season on board Ducati’s struggling factory Demosedici.
And looking ahead to his return to ride a Honda for the first time since he was a Repsol Honda rider in 2008, the 32-year-old told MCN: "I can't wait to get on the bike and to see what my feeling is like. It will be good just to feel a different bike.
I've had a lot of problems and you start to question if it's you or the bike. I know it won't be easy but I'm looking forward to it. I'll still be pushing at the last race, even though I got the flick and didn't get the new bike that I was supposed to. It was tough but I’m proud of what I've done and my team."
Honda’s new production bike will be unveiled in Valencia later on today, but Hayden is undoubtedly the most experienced of the quartet that will ride the RCV1000R.
Rookie Scott Redding will ride one of the new bikes, which doesn’t have pneumatic valves or a seamless shift gearbox like the factory RC213V prototype, but many feel it will be down to Hayden to show the potential of the production bike in the early phase of next season.
The popular Kentucky rider, who had expected to ride an Aprilia ART bike until talks collapsed because of Gigi Dall’Igna’s defection to Ducati, added: “Most importantly Honda seems to be really behind me.
"When the Aprilia thing fell through, Honda US stepped up and Honda management wanted to help me even so late in the season."