The future of Nicky Hayden appears to have been decided. Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has decided to drop Aprilia in favor of Honda, according to German language website Aspar is set to make an announcement later this week on its future, and that decision appears to be that the Spanish team will be running Honda’s production racer RCV1000R for next season.

The decision was made almost inevitable once it was announced that current Aprilia racing boss Gigi Dall’Igna would be leaving the Noale factory to join Ducati. Dall’Igna and Martinez had a strong working relationship dating back to the years in which Aspar ran 125 and 250cc team, and Aspar’s faith in Aprilia’s MotoGP program was based on the strength of that relationship.

With Dall’Igna gone, that leaves Aprilia’s MotoGP program in disarray – at least, temporarily – and makes the Honda production racer the best option. Aspar also had the option to run a Ducati GP13 as a customer bike with the spec Dorna software, but with Dall’Igna just arrived and little chance of any updates to that bike, it was not a promising option.

The decision was made despite a last-ditch effort by Aprilia to retain Aspar. New Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano had flown to Malaysia to try to persuade Aspar to stick with the Noale factory, but the uncertainty over Aprilia’s future in racing meant his efforts were in vain.

American Honda’s financial contribution to help get Nicky Hayden back on a Honda helped to make the choice for the Honda easier. Whether HRC also helped to sweeten the deal is unknown, but of the five bikes Honda have already built, only two had been sold, one to the Gresini Honda team for Scott Redding, and one for the Cardion AB team for Karel Abraham.

Having four bikes on the grid instead of two will make developing the machine much easier, especially with a proven veteran like Nicky Hayden on board.

Aspar’s defection from Aprilia leaves only the PBM team with any links still to Aprilia. The British team is currently racing Aprilia’s RSV4-based engine in their own chassis, but there have been rumors that Paul Bird’s team may drop the Aprilia lump in favor of something else.

The Aprilia engine is handicapped by the spec software, as the engine is designed to make use of the butterfly exhaust valve for improved mid-range, but Magneti Marelli have not implemented software control of this yet, nor are they likely to in the near future, other algorithms being given priority.

With the functionality list being determined by the popularity of an item, requests for functionality to help one specific engine technology tend to be put to the back of the queue.

Who Hayden’s team mate will be is as yet unknown. Aleix Espargaro has been released to the NGM Forward team for 400,000 euros, 300,000 of which comes from the Forward team, and 100,000 of which comes from Espargaro himself, in the form of him foregoing his bonus for winning the title of best CRT rider.

Eugene Laverty had been linked to the ride, but Laverty was an Aprilia appointee, and with Aspar switching to Honda, he may not have a place in the team. According to Speedweek, the list of possible riders could also include Yonny Hernandez or Hiroshi Aoyama.

Current rider Randy de Puniet looks set to take on a full-time role as tester for Suzuki, who will be making their return to MotoGP in 2015, if all goes to plan.

Source: Speedweek; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

  • Finally with Gigi making his move Nicky can finalize his deal. I know that the Honda proddie racer wont be competitive with any factory bikes but maybe Dall’Igna can bring Nick back to Ducati after next year.

    I think they would have been great together in 2014 had Piaggio not been bleeding money.

  • smiler

    “maybe Dall’Igna can bring Nick back to Ducati after next year”. Not a hope, he can now look at Colin Edwards as a rival. No with no real chance of a factory ride or winning a WSBK championship either. Must be for the money.

  • Bruce Monighan


    Nicky’s best deal. He does well on the Honda, Casey Stoner was impressed by bike and he will certainly be getting the better of hte Ducatis.

    I really am excited to see Nicky stay in MotoGp and this bike could be a a regular top ten contender and maybe in the top 5 or 6. That is a whole lot better than where he has been

  • motobell

    this is sad!

    Nicky has been standup guy and is a great ambassador for the US. Unfortunately at his best today he can potentially match Rossi/crutchlow et al for 4th place in speed. so when riders like Nicky who could spice up mid field action go onto a slower bike by design it is career over. Yes the honda proddie could be faster than ducati next year but it will be slower than factory yamahas and hondas so it will be engineered for 7th or 8th place at best.

    i really wish nicky at least gets best of the rest next year to prove he still has lot left in the tank. anyway, his chance of getting back on a competitive bike again are gone for forever in motogp. May be this is honda’s plan to bring him to wsbk when they build a new bike.

    i still want a top rider on the aprilia – from dominating wsbk and surprising everyone with their CRT, it looks like they may wither – the new evo rules could end aprilia challenge in wsbk and with not enough demand in motogp and gigi gone, they could struggle to stay in motogp.

  • Coreyvwc

    It’s going to be really humorous watching Nicky regularly beat Dovi and Cal next year on the humble little production racer. Good for him!

  • L2C

    I think the production Honda will be as competitive as the satellite Yamahas. It has to be because of Honda’s commitment to Scott Redding. Honda will not want to provide it’s newest star with a bike inferior to the Tech 3 Yamaha, which Pol Espargaro is set to ride next season. The Honda may not be capable of winning races, but 4/5 place finishes are likely, I think.

    Honda had to tell Redding something to get him to sign with Gresini. Promises of being competitive straight away on a new machine had to be part of it.

    Good news for Nicky, though. The new Honda will run rings around the GP13, that’s for sure.

  • L2C

    The main threat of the new production Hondas will be to Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl on the factory RC213Vs. I’d be worried if I were either of them.

  • Seth

    I think it’s a great move. The production Honda has the potential to be pretty competitive. Casey stoner (a man that doesn’t sugar coat things) had great things to say, putting it only 3 to 5 tenths behind the factory honda. Which makes it basically as fast as a Yamaha. Of course the spec ECU will have its challenges, but with a higher motor limit and extra 4 liters of fuel I think at times the proddie honda could be pretty darn fast. Sadly, I don’t think Nick will be fighting for the win, but I think he’ll be a solid contender in the second group. One thing we do know…. He’ll be faster than the ducatis. ;)

  • sburns2421

    The Honda production racer is third-tier. Nicky will find himself in the same position he did for the last few years, in that 7th-10th range. At best a lateral move. By design the production racer will not be as good as the factory or satellite bikes, nor will it be allowed to regularly beat those machines. It will always lag behind.

    Pecking order.
    1) Honda and Yamaha factory teams
    2) Honda a Ymaha satellite teams
    3) Honda production racer and whatever Yamaha does for Forward
    4) Ducati (for now, soon to improve)
    5) Non MSMA teams

    Nicky must really be angry at Ducati not to take the WSBK ride they offered, or pehaps ego does not allow him to move down to the lesser series. He is a good rider wasting the last few competitive years he has on a bike that will never win.

  • L2C

    LOL at the speculation – but I’m sticking to mine because Scott Redding vs Pol Espargaro. ;)

  • TexusTim

    very good news !! I think he can bring it to the honda and yamaha satalite bikes at least it will be closer, he is a great american ambasdor for moto gp and am gald to see him stay.
    Am very sad to see that between ducati and dorna they basicly killed off aprilla the rules man seem to be made to discouage them and the fact they cant get maranelli to help them shows they got no love from any place I can see… and there were moving right we will lose aprilla and gain suzuki by 2015…really wanted to see the aprilla be a solid entry in motogp..they have the skills but no love and no money mean no motogp grip spot…did they do somthing to someone or were they looking to take it to ducati so they took there main guy..I guess if you cant compete heads up the next best thing is make your competion weaker…not the spirit I want to see..its really unfair to them and the fans to play these games and dorna unfortunalty caters to honda first ducati second yamah third and all the f=rest as they say are fodder for the masses.

  • Ian

    I agree with L2C. Honda will make sure their production racer is up to speed for Scott Redding. But, Espargaro’s targets for next year are the two satellite Hondas. He has to fast track his way to Rossi’s vacated bike to take the battle to Marquez. He is probably the only one who can do it for the long run.

    IMO, Nicky will have better results next year. Hopefully, he is beating Smith and in the hunt for 6th-7th place each weekend. The only bikes he should always be behind would be factory Yamahas, factory Hondas and satellite Hondas. The rest should be up for grabs and that will be his target.

    He may even have a couple 5th-6th moments, which would be a big step for his results.

    i do however agree that it is hard to ever go back to a satellite bike or a factory bike once you take a step down. There is always young talent on the rise.

  • PD

    Guys, I’d really appreciate a heads-up on where I can get a subscription to that newspaper y’all guys are reading that apparently is reporting on the future. Besides seeing what Nicky willen haven been donen next season, I wanna take a gander at the business section, see if I can pick up some stock “tips.”

  • SBPilot

    Now that that’s done and dusted, I’m more curious as to who will take the second Honda production at Aspar. I’m really hoping a new face, like Eugene Laverty.

    The main photo should be of Nicky when he was riding a Honda :P

  • @ Smiler
    ““maybe Dall’Igna can bring Nick back to Ducati after next year”. Not a hope, he can now look at Colin Edwards as a rival. No with no real chance of a factory ride or winning a WSBK championship either. Must be for the money.”

    You must right ’cause Gigi never allowed Max back at Aprilia into his late 30’s early 40’s to win not one but two World Titles in SBK….Dall”Igna already told Nicky that his riding style is the type that he wants to build around. If Nick had agreed this year he could have been on Spies bike next year with Spies on a Panigale in WSBK.

    I am not sure how you logically make the leap that turning down $3million from Ducati to ride their WSBK bike and signing a much more humble contract with Aspar means that Nick is racing for the money-not for position.

    It may not come to pass but he does not appear to shat on Bologna on his way out the door at Ducati so I say the door may be opened again in the future.

  • Conrice


    I don’t know – Nicky said his career at Ducati has been “like shoving shit up a steep hill”. I think that may be the one bridge he’s ever burned. I’m not saying you’re wrong about Dall’Igna – because you’re right. He said that he wanted to build a bike around Nicky, have Nicky develop a bike, etc. And you’re right in the comparison about Mad Max. I’m just not sure about the big wigs letting that happen. Dovi and Cal are going to work just as good in the capacity of marketing for Ducati. I think after the testing fiasco, Nicky is done with them too.

    I think the dice is loaded with the production Honda, but it was at NGM too. The APE was his real only shot – and that’s DOA now.

    @ Seth – Where did you hear the proddie was only .3 -.5 slower than the factory bike? All Casey said was he ws surprised. Honda didn’t release any lap times.

    And you have to remember, those tests were in unfavorable conditions. The gap between the two bikes is not going to be as big in bad weather.

  • I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the production racers on an occasional podium at certain tracks. If not that, then I certainly expect some good racing against the satellite bikes. I could see the proddy racers gaining in second halves of races when the factory riders switch to their lean maps and the spec bridgestones start to lose front grip. Don’t the bikes in this class also get a little bit more flexibility in tire choice?

  • Motogpdr

    Now Nicky can perhaps finish 6-8 instead of 8-10. IMHO he should have taken bigger money and gone to ducati wsbk The goal of being first and only motogp and wsbk champ is much more valuable then being a back marker in motogp on some second rate bike

  • TexusTim

    so I doubt he would return to ducati, part of the push to degrade aprilla was to prevent this headline.
    “Nicky hayden takes it to ducati on an aprilla”…get it now? dorna and ducati were not going to let that happen so after he turned down the wsbk panigal the pressure to take aprilla’s main guy hoted up and now look.aspar pulled the pin and switched…this is the crap that made stoner depart the series and its what will keep him from ever coming back….I cant waite for a tell all book from nicky when he retires…it must be weired for him to be back on a honda ..remember they dumped him a year after he won his first title and hes had lean years on the ducati ever since…glad to see him move on and not finish with ducati…really wanted him on the aprilla cuz I would love to see that headline.
    as far as spies goes it remains to be seen if he still has that ride next year…theres is doubt about this.. its not for sure due to perfomance clauses and such most of these deals can be terminated under such clauses
    he may test this winter and then ducati may or may not bring him back for 2014…..after all he’s an american…o waite a minute dorna is courting asaian,indian and south americans….WERE OLD AND FAT IN AMERCA AND LOST INTREST IN THIS MOTORCYCLE THING…lol

  • JD




    sorry if I sounded a bit harsh

  • TexusTim

    not all of us are arm chair racers man. and some of are behind nicky and I personlly feel he will do better next year than in the last few on the duc…I am certain he will be happy and that has to be important to him.

  • Halfie30

    There is NO doubt if Nicky wanted to win anything again he should have gone Ducati WSBK. However, for him to have to deal with HRC again, after the last couple years they gave him giving them a championship in ’06 with the odds against him, speaks volumes about how he feels about Ducati. Calling 5-10 with a possible 4th competitive is just retarded. I only hope HE is happy with whatever role he takes on in the future. Great guy, fast rider.

  • jet

    All i know is that Nick signed my 11 racing cap at laguna and i wished him there and i say again,he will be back to kick some marquez ass…..

  • paulus

    Best wishes of success to Nicky.

    He seems a good guy and deserves paying for his combination of riding and ambassador skills.
    There are only so many seats at the motoGP table … he has chosen from what is available to him.

    All the time the US/Europe remain important markets, there will be a representative in the show.
    No doubt Asia and Latin America are target markets, but the current market is high volume of low margin motorcycles…. ideally the brands want to keep those revenues and build new ones from the developing nations.

  • Norm G.

    re: “had Piaggio not been bleeding money.

    “rome” has been “burning”. I’ve alluded numerous times to dorna pulling their revenue stream out from under them like so much rug. now the dumbing down of WSBK. all this on top of being in receivership under beggio earlier this century. they’re gettin’ it from all angles. well mostly from ezpelata.

  • Anvil

    Gotta agree that the RCVR has been engineered to be third-tier bike. There’s no way that that bike will be allowed to consistently finish too close to the megabuck RC214Vs as long as they’re still on the grid. I hope I’m wrong, but I know that’s probably wishful thinking.

    As for Ducati, they apparently made Hayden/Aspar an offer, and possibly with factory equipment. Sport Rider reported that Hayden was not interested. He’s not at all happy with Ducati factory management.

    However, if Dall’Igna starts to get Ducati straighted out, I could see him making another pitch to Aspar/Hayden for 2015 if contracts allow. Things might have changed by then, even in Hayden’s mind. Aspar replaces Pramac. It could happen.

    According to the same report (as well as this one), Aprila was desperate to keep Aspar and Hayden. If Aspar hasn’t signed anything yet, don’t completely rule out the possibility that they make one final gasp at this thing. Futile probably, but it wouldn’t be shocking.

  • TexusTim

    I could see Dall’igna doing that but beyond his managment style the bike would have to be far improved.he aint going back if the bike is still barley top ten.and whatever hayden may have issue with will likely still be have to know it must be somthing with new ownership cuz he stayed to see what would be under them and hence he’s moving on.
    I would love to see Aspar,Aprilla,Hayden team come to be..but man the rules killed the bike being competitve and Ducati took there lead guy who might get it right or even get maranelli to help out but that option looks to be gone.

  • JW

    I liken Hayden’s stay at Ducati like a verteran coming home from a bitter fought war. You did your time and there comes a point when you are done fighting the battle (Ducati management). Hayden fought the Ducati battle for a long time. He will never ride for them again. For 14, there will be the front pack battle which is getting all too familiar….. again, and then there will be the middle pack watched by a legion of fans, the best ground war – entertainment will be between Hayden – Honda and the “new” Ducati Army. Hondas genius at work..

  • larriice

    In my opinion, the honda production racer’s competitiveness will come down to whether it gets 24 or 20 liters of fuel for next year. If it’s entered as a NON MSMA bike (MM Dorna ecu, and 24 liters of fuel) then I could see that extra bit of fuel helping a lot with the gap to the rest of the field. It could possibly give the satellite yamaha’s a run for their money, especially with Yamaha already struggling with the 21 liters of fuel that they have this year. It’s going to be interesting to say the least!

  • Anvil

    @TexasTim and JW: Agreed and I also assume Hayden’s displeasure probably has something to do with the new ownership. Apparently Hayden and Preziosi were fairly tight, too. It’s not clear it was directly related to Audi, though, as only Ducati factory management were cited.

    Dall’Igna is very fond of Hayden. If in a year, he still thinks Hayden is valuable to his project, and Ducati have a promising bike, I could imagine him making another pitch. He has a lot of power and could probably make Hayden feel a little better about it. He’ll still need to do a hell of a sales job, though.

    @larriice: The RCVR won’t carry 24 liters of fuel according to Nakamoto. The assumption is that it will carry more than 21, but definitely not 24. It’s also not known how much, if any, modification will be allowed by Honda to the production bike. Even though it’s a purchase, HRC could withhold technical support if unauthorized modifications are done. That’s just speculation now, but it could very well be what happens.

    I agree that the RCVR could possibly cause a little trouble for the Tech3s, especially since they have young riders.

  • damn

    Dall’Igna or anybuddy wont succeed. all the engineers at ducati love to sleep

  • jimbo

    Am I right in thinking the RCVR’s will get HRC support? Probably a stupid question I know but…

    It seems the whole purpose of the CRT concept last season was to make a low cost, competative machine that could race alongside the prototypes. Aprilia did that, albeit with the most tricked ART on the grid but it was regularly embarassing the Pramac bikes and when he wasn’t jump starting you would usually see Aleix right up there in the first few laps, a few more seasons of development that bike would have been in the mix for top non aliens

    The rules and management dramas have essentially scrapped the ART in favour of the Yams and mostly the Honda’s and for me that stinks, massive potential lost due to money and background politics.

    I know we are getting Suzuki back in 2015 but how long will they last before the rules and regulations, and indeed the budget rear its ugly head and force them back out.

    So many double standards

  • smiler

    He can do better next year. Why Would Hinda make the production racer faster than the factory bikes and the factory supported satelite bikes?
    Now that Ducati have sorted their race dept and Suzuki returning next year. That will be 8 factory bikes and @8 satelite bikes. It what world would Honda or any of the suppliers allow their satelite and production racers dominate the scene.
    Hayden was very very lucky to win in 2006. That was 7 years ago. Natioan loyalty is one thing, daftness is another.

  • Ian

    It seems like not enough people talk about talent in these comments. Yes, the bikes make a huge difference. I know this. Then, the talent of the rider does the rest. If Nicky still has the fire and the talent, he has a chance to improve his results on the Honda production racer. I’m assuming that bike won’t be down on power a huge amount. My optimistic and simplified view is this:

    Hayden will be on what is presumed (rightly so) to be a third tier Honda. But, he has the talent to bring the bike along and fight the second tier Honda.

    The four bikes he should target to beat are the two satellite Hondas and the two satellite Yamahas. Battling those four bikes would be seen as a great success, and probably a lot of fun too.

    Hayden could have a chance to be next year’s Espargaro. That is, riding a lower tier bike and using his talent to battle with higher tier bikes. Except Hayden could be finishing higher up in the standings than Espargaro is this year.