Nicky Hayden shocked at Dall’Igna’s Ducati defection

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Nicky Hayden admitted in Malaysia today that Gigi Dall’Igna’s shock defection from Aprilia to Ducati for 2014 had caught him completely by surprise.

Dall’Igna initially appeared to reject Ducati’s approach to try and lead the Bologna factory out of its current slump, but he had a late change of heart that has thrown Hayden’s 2014 plans up in the air.

The popular Kentucky rider was poised to sign a deal with the Spanish-based Aspar squad to ride an upgraded ART 1000cc machine next season.

A big selling point in the deal for Hayden was the prospect of working closely with highly respected engineer Dall’Igna, who had told the 32-year-old recently that he was committed to staying with Aprilia, despite the big interest from Ducati.

Dall’Igna’s departure to replace Bernhard Gobmeier at the helm of Ducati Corse has thrown the future of Aprilia’s MotoGP project in doubt.

And Jorge Martinez’s Aspar squad is now locked in talks with HRC about buying two of its production RCV1000R models for 2014.

Hayden said: “I haven't signed anything with Aprilia and things are definitely changing. I need to understand what Aprilia is going to do without Gigi and if they will make the commitment to the program and put the money and resources behind it.

"I was very close to a deal, so I was very shocked to see him leave. Ducati are not doing me any favours. Not only have they sacked me they have taken the guy who was going to my new engineer.

"I knew it was a possibility but when I was in Aprilia (after Misano race) Gigi said that was not the case, so I was certainly surprised about it. Gigi has achieved a lot and that's why I was impressed with him. It is why the Aprilia option was looking so good."

Hayden said he was now in the process of assessing new options, with Aspar too considering its Aprilia future without Dall’Igna leading its MotoGP project.

Hayden, who finished in eighth position in today’s Sepang practice, added: “Things have definitely changed and now we are going to re-evaluate. I haven't signed anything yet.

"I was very close with Aprilia and that was basically a done deal although we didn't have anything in writing. But now we don't know what Aprilia is going to do.

"We need to know if they are still going to make the commitment. It was going to be a lot of money and a big project to build a full on MotoGP bike, so we have to understand if they will still do it and at what level.

"I have a good feeling with the Aspar guys but we are now considering the option again, which in the long run could be better. The Honda thing came back up and there is lot to sort out like bike prices and sponsors."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt