Nicky Hayden might have tested Ducati’s factory Panigale World Superbike machine and visited Aprilia’s Italian HQ recently, but the popular American is still to decide whether his future lies in MotoGP or WSB in 2014.
Hayden rode a Panigale at Mugello with Ducati interested in him spearheading its WSB effort next season after he was released by the Bologna factory’s MotoGP squad and replaced by British rider Cal Crutchlow.
The 2006 world champion is also in big demand in MotoGP, with Forward Racing confirming today in Misano that talks are on going about him riding a Yamaha YZR-M1 engine and chassis package in 2014.
The Spanish-based Aspar squad is also keen on the former Repsol Honda rider and Hayden visited Aprilia’s Noale base to get more of an insight into its ART project.
Hayden insists he has yet to take a final decision on his future and he said: “I had talked with Ducati during the summer break about the superbike test and I had told them if I hadn’t signed by then I would definitely come and ride it, even though I’ve said that maybe World Superbike is not my first option.
"I enjoyed the experience and I was just curious to see what it was like and only rode for half a day. I’m glad I did it and I liked it and the bike was fun to ride. I was going pretty quick and it was a long time since I rode a superbike.
"There are worst things I can be doing next year than riding in World Superbikes, but if I can stay in MotoGP then I am going to do that.”
Hayden’s priority is obviously to remain in MotoGP but he admits the chance to jump on a competitive bike capable of winning in World Superbikes is appealing.
He added: “The thought of winning sounds very exciting but I don’t want to give up on my dream of being in MotoGP if I still have that possibility. I feel like I could still go to World Superbikes in a year or two and once you leave here you don’t normally come back.
"But the thought of being on a good bike is fun and exciting but will it mean as much? I know winning is winning but at a different level. How much of a buzz do you still get from it?”
When asked by MCN for his thoughts on his visit to Aprilia, Hayden said he wanted to be fully informed about all his options before taking a final decision in the near future.
He said: “I had a look and it was very interesting. The race department is really serious and they have got a nice set-up there. I’ve got a big decision to make and I don't want to just make it on hearsay. I’d like to get the facts, meet the people and see what’s there.”