A few days later than expected, Nicky Hayden has decided to stay with Ducati for the 2010 season, as the Marlboro Ducati team exercised their option on the American rider today. We had originally expected this announcement at Indianapolis last weekend, after earlier news suggested we’d here about the contract, one way or another, before the month of September. But, better late than never, and the news helps sure up the paddock for the 2010 season.
While it was Ducati that contractually had the option to renew Hayden’s contract, the team said it would not have a rider onboard who did not want to be there. By now, the GP9’s reputation as a career-ender is well-known in the paddock, and Hayden hasn’t been bashful about exclaiming that “This season has been the biggest challenge of [his] life.” With his podium finish at Indianapolis, and improving finishes and lap-times, Hayden must feel that he’s taming the beast to choose to stay on the Ducati squad, and hinted as such in his press announcement:
“This has been a very good week and this news just adds to that. After the good result in Indy, now to renew the deal with Ducati is exactly what I wanted. I’m very happy. I always had faith and believed that we could achieve good results. I’m excited for these last five races of the 09 season, and if you look at the progression we have made from the start of the season to the middle, hopefully we will continue this through to the end. I just wish to say a big thanks to all the guys who made this happen, especially everybody in Ducati as well as all our sponsors and I’m sure I’ll be able to do a good job next year and to continue to build with, and be part of, the Ducati family”.
The otherside to that story may also be that Hayden had no where else to go. Critics of Hayden chastize the American for his poor performances, depsite the fact that he won the World Championship in 2006. For Ducati, the math is fairly simple, Hayden has a strong following the US and is media savvy. He “gitt’r’s” it done when it comes to selling motorcycles, and strengthens the Ducati brand in one of Ducati’s largest markets, and at the end of the day, MotoGP is all about selling motorcycles.
Others cite the Hayden contract renewal as a response to Dani Pedrosa finally putting pen to paper with HRC (despite the announcement at Brno that the deal was done). That move meant Ducati could no longer cherry-pick a top-rider from another team, leaving only the “also rans” in contention for the factory spot. With Hayden signed to Ducati, this also means that all of the Factory seats are now taken, except for one spot at HRC, which is reportedly virtually guranteed to go to Andrea Dovizioso.