Rumors have been rife over the future of Nicky Hayden in MotoGP, as the former-World Champion and five-time Ducati man is seeing his seat up for grabs at the Italian factory team for yet another silly season. With it being no secret that Cal Crutchlow is looking for a factory ride in the premier class, and Yamaha reportedly not stepping up to the plate in that regard (add more fuel to the fire with Pol Espargaro reportedly coming into the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team next year), Crutchlow has all but officially been seen in Ducati livery for next year.

With Ducati keen to retain the services of the Italian Andrea Dovizioso, Hayden is left as the odd-man-out in this game of MotoGP musical chairs. With his options in MotoGP very grim because of the four prototypes agreement the MSMA has inked with Dorna, the American’s options outside of Ducati Corse are limited really to non-MSMA bikes, unless something radical occurs in the Pramac Racing side of the Ducati camp (Ben Spies has a contract thru 2014, and Iannone is hotly tipped to retain his seat for next year).

With limited options in MotoGP, many have opined Hayden to try a switchover to the World Superbike Championship. While the obvious choice would be for Hayden to enter through the Ducati Alstare SBK team (presumably replacing the 40-year-old Carlos Checa), and continue his role as US ambassador for the Italian brand, MCN is reported just last week that the real interest in WSBK for Hayden’s services are coming from Kawasaki and BMW Motorrad.

Nicky is a huge force for Ducati in the US market though, and we would be surprised to see Ducati let the American out its family, especially after the five long years the Kentucky Kid has had at Ducati Corse, the last few being the most forgettable.

With Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati’s MotoGP Project Director, spilling the beans on a Ducati Desmosedici GP13 production racer, and the roster for Ducati’s “Junior Team” not yet set in stone, there are avenues in MotoGP for Hayden, though none of them are likely commensurate with his worth as a rider.

This may help nudge Hayden towards a World Superbike ride — where in WSBK he would surely become and instant favorite to win the Championship. But as we have seen in the past, GP riders truly view WSBK as a step-down in their career, and tend to pick bad rides in MotoGP over good rides in World Superbike.

However with reports this week out of Germany suggesting that Ducati is keen to retain Hayden in some form or another, including on a Ducati 1199 Panigale R, the initial rumor of Hayden on a factory Ducati in World Superbike enters back in the fray — and so goes the back and forth over the American’s future, with so many options on the table, just none of them clearly better than another.

We will perhaps not have to wait long for Hayden’s decision though, as it is being rumored that an announcement is forthcoming at this weekend’s race in Laguna Seca. As always though, time will tell.

Source: MCN & GPone; Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

  • Tim

    GOING THE WAY OF Colin Edwards….. CRT/No Factory Support bike

    I hope Cal Crutchlow doesn’t take any offer from Ducati. It’ll be the down fall of his Career. The only person who has WON on a Ducati is Casey Stoner and that’s when they were running the 800cc’s machines. There has not been a top Ducati Finish since then 2007

  • Alex MacPherson

    I don’t find this surprising at all. I don’t think I have seen a photo of Nicky this season where he didn’t look pissed off.
    I really hope Cal doesn’t take the Ducati seat. Riding for Ducati is a career-killer… just ask Rossi and Hayden.

  • Tim

    100% with Alex…

    BTW Ever since Nicky moved over to Ducati from Honda I don’t recall him ever being on the Podium

  • TheSwede

    Hayden took a third at Aragon (in the dry) in 2010 while Stoner won

    Still I’ll be sad to see him go. He’s a consummate professional and has sacrificed his career trying to develop that Ducati. He’d be a contender in WSBK or a terrific development rider in GP, but I’m not sure the money is good enough doing that to keep him here.

    Sidenote: I think hes forgiven Pedrosa by now, but Estoril 06 is still one of my favorite races. The depths of his dispair perfectly set up his emotions when he won it, plus Elias came out of nowhere and rode like a bat out of hell..

  • Michael

    Crutchlow is a great rider but so is Andrea and he is no faster than Nicky on any given weekend with the GP13. Nicky deserves that seat as much for his talent as he does his work ethic and commitment to Ducati. If they move him it would be a big mistake. Not to mention the effect it will have on the popularity of their MotoGP program in America or for MotoGP itself.

    I agree though that team is a career killer. I wish Nicky had more competitive options available in MotoGP. Its really too bad he burned his bridge with Yamaha when he first came to the series. I don’t think they would ever be an option for him regardless of who else is available.

    On the flip side it would be great to see Nicky in WSBK on competitive machinery. It makes much more sense for Kawi to dump Baz than it would for BMW to dump Marco or Chaz. Any team or manufacturer who picks him up will be lucky to have him at their disposal.

  • Halfie30

    Nicky was on the podium at Indie a couple years ago on a Duc. Casey won plenty of races after 2007. And Cal may just be the guy who can get the bike right in a faster amount of time. He won’t be “afraid” of the understeer and such. I say let him get that seat and only sign for two seasons, at which point the bike Gould be capable of race wins.

    Nicky rides with the rear, Rossi relies in the front. Both ends lack feel on the Duc. They need a rider who can go as fast as the bike will allow through corners to sort it. Having a Jr team doesn’t fix anything. What will fix it, if anything is a guy like Cal.

    I hope Nicky goes to WSBK so Edwards and Rossi follow suit eventually. Can you imagine Sykes, Guintolli, Melandri, Hayden, Rossi, Edwards, Camier, Fabrizio, etc, all on superbikes?! It would steal the show Ron MotoGP, and hopefully light a fire under Dorna’s ass!

  • Keet

    I would love to see Hayden go “home”, back to Honda and the Pata/Ten-Kate team. Too bad Dorna is going to severely neuter WSBK over the next few years.

  • starmag

    A real shame. The only American to root for of late, that’s anywhere near the front. He runs with Rossi last year, Rossi switches bikes and now he’s at the front. Why couldn’t Nicky be also? Because he’s got five years of Ducati stink on him and Yamaha and Honda won’t offer him a seat. He should have always-a-bridesmaid Pedrosa’s seat.

  • Tim

    There is also more drama at the Cal’s Tech3 Team next year. They have already signed Pol Espargaro Moto2 rider. So that means that either Bradley Smith or Cal has already lost their ride. Smith has not been in any of the Silly Season News so far this year, so does that mean Cal is already gone from their 2014 Lineup? Tech3 is going to run 3 bikes are they? Probably not

  • KK

    Le sigh…..

    Nicky is the type of guy in professional motorsports that we need. doesnt have a stick up his ass and is super down to earth… never forgot his roots. I will follow him untill he hangs up his leathers for good.

    I hope he lands on a good team in WSBK… Id love to see him and Sykes at Kawi. I think that bike would suit him

    I still think the new school americans trying to move up the ranks will have such a hard time in prototype classes.

    THey are raise on the dirt or on AMA superbikes. Bikes that have character, wiggly around and need to be wrangled to win. Aka, NOT perfect.

    I think seeing Spies wint the WSBK title in his first try is a testament to that point.

    I think americans can do well in prototype but not be dominant like they were in the 80-90s when the bikes were like riding raging bulls.

  • TexusTim

    theres more going on here than this…ducatti must be nuts ! so if they let him go to wsbk he will ride the new panigale….. it is really ripping it this year right ? this whole thing could be cured if moto gp would let suzuki in next year…you have to wonder why dorna made them wait till has to do with riders and who dorna wants to see in the game thats for sure, when you “drill it down” nothing else makes any sence…we need nicky in moto gp…not piro….we have innone and dovi that would leave room for cal if hes crazy enough to throw his career away…instead of all this bullshit they have done it would make more sence for them to let the past go and open the doors for more factorys to come in…if they didnt make rules to favor this factory or that and just got down to buisness moto gp would be totaly different and could be more affordable…lose nicky you will see the americans lose more interest till it’s a lost cause..there playing around too much…too complicated fo new viewers let alone to find a favorite team/rider to root for !

  • Norm G.

    re: ” Not to mention the effect it will have on the popularity of their MotoGP program in America or for MotoGP itself.”

    motogp’s loss is superbike’s gain…!!! :)

    but of course with control of WSBK now wrestled, it’s all ezpelata’s gain. :(

  • Much as I love seeing my fellow mericans in Motogp – Nicky doesn’t have what it takes to bring the Duc to the podium and won’t likely get a factory ride elsewhere.

    Personally I’d like to see both him and Spies in WSBK with the more factory like bikes taking the east continenters to task.

    Sadly but I think being in Motogp has gotten in the way of being competitve. Things like tattoos and 69 references arent top level attitude, and that’s whats necessary – attitude, focus and skill not one or two but all three.

  • lilredducati

    Hayden to WSBK……. what a perfect reason to head to Laguna next year….. and it wouldn’t be a step down…… look at Bayliss,,, Biaggi…..

  • Norm G.

    re: “It would steal the show (from) MotoGP, and hopefully light a fire under Dorna’s ass!”

    they don’t care. control has been seized. the rebellion has been put down.

    (Imperial March plays)

  • MotoSoup

    I wish he would have told Ducati to kiss off a long time ago. I know it’s not that simple, but I always felt like they were just using him as a marketing/PR posterboy. I’m not sure Ducati ever cared if he got on the podium or not, so long as he looked good at the photo shoot the next day.

    Ducati makes some killer bikes, but they are about image and ego. Not winning races…

  • JW

    When one door closes, another opens. The only seat I see worth taking is to replace Bradl. Bradl can get the boot over his poor performance. Hayden can always take a year off and ride Suzuki in 15. Going to world Superbike with Ducati would be a bad move, don’t you all think? But no matter what, he has had a long great and relatively healthy career. He will land on his feet wherever he goes. He has more mony than he will ever know how to spend, life has been very good to him.

  • Slangbuster

    Hayden will do well wherever he goes. Ducan’ti on the other hand….not so much. Pretty laughable really. Monkeys and a football come to mind.

  • Rob

    I love it how everyone says Cal will be able to ride the Ducati. The odds are that he will be 6-8th place or crash out due to the poor feedback of the bike.

    When he doesn’t do well it will be Ducati’s fault or will it still be Rossi’s fault? Better to be on a capable bike but I understand he wants money.

    Nicky just never fit the Ducati and has always been outperformed by his teammate. He should just sever ties with them completely if he ever wants to win a race again in any series. Obviously Ducati made some bad development choices long ago and needs a revamp from scratch. WSBK rules don’t favor them either at the moment.

  • Phil

    No surprises here, but I really can’ t see Cal without a seat. Something will turn up.

  • philly phil

    I prefer to watch WSBK anyway. If this is what it take for Ducati to win in WSBK, and possibly help the sport get on to mainstream American TV, then heck yeah!!

    The MGP ducati is not doing well…he’d probably be better off jumping ship anyway

  • buellracerx

    Blessing in disguise. Break free of the Ducati curse until they finally get their s**t together. (probably never)

    Nicky on a kawi? Awesome. Hope it happens.

  • Tim

    Latest Nicky News:

    Ducati Says, “though don’t want to lose the experienced 31-year-old and will offer him alternative options, including a potential opening on a factory Panigale in World Superbikes.” Part of discussions with Ducati management last week though included the prospect of a Panigale ride and Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti told MCN: “We’d like to keep Nicky within Ducati and we have a few options we have discussed with him, including World Superbikes.

    However, Hayden denied that had spoken to Ducati directly about a switch to World Superbikes, though he had been approached about a move to WSB recently from other interested parties.

  • Craig

    Alvaro Bautista has got to go… Total factory bike and fast for 2 laps then slides back as fast as a Ducati or crashes trying to keep up. Give that bike to Hayden … At least he has motogp champion to his name.

    On the other front, he has nothing to be shameful about. He has lived the dream and been paid well for it!

    If you do leave Ducati then leave them for good. Get that Aprilia and kill me!

  • jet057

    Ducati : Don’t fear the reaper !

  • The Rutler

    Ducati are a total embarrassment. Being beaten by CRT machines is not where a premier brand like Ducati should be. Hayden, Dovi and all others are doing all they can to keep that thing on the track – never mind making the podium. Cal will be no different. Ducati should scrap that supposed racebike and start again from scratch . . . .maybe with a CRT frame – :-)

    I hope Nicky Hayden finds an alternative MotoGP ride – even if its on a CRT. He’ll still probably beat his ex-Ducati team mates.

  • smiler

    Hayden himself said he was lucky to get the title in 06. He has always been a solid rider but never brilliant. He has been loyal to Ducati, partly because I do not seriously think others would take him that far through his career. There were never any rumours of him leaving.
    Suzuki are waiting until 2015, for once it seems Dorna are not forcing Suzuki to wait.
    To be honest, I am a little surprised that Ducati don’t kick Spies out of a contract.
    Bradl has done well enough on the Honda to continue.
    Dorna are clearly pushing to make MotoGP the Spanish cup by pushing for Pol Paella on Yamahaha.
    Hayden could do alot worse that MotoGP. It rescued Biaggi’s career and by the end most people liked him. Checa also and now he is too long in the tooth.
    If Hayden took the championship next yr for Ducati a number of CRT teams and even Suzuki might be interested in him for a couple of years.
    However something will likely occur, it always does.

  • starmag

    jet057 says:
    July 16, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Ducati : Don’t fear the reaper !

    Dude, that shi+ is funny. Made me LOL. Always looking for the perfect one liner myself. The only thing better would have been a link to the way back vid:

  • Damo

    “Ducati makes some killer bikes, but they are about image and ego. Not winning races…”

    Odd last I checked Ducati has won at least one world title on every iteration of superbike they have made, aside from the Panigale, which is obviously in its first year of development. (Rule bending aside.)

  • Jim

    This could be way out in left field but how about Hayden on a EBR Bike (American Rider on an American Design). That could be a heck of a PR campaign

  • Chaz Michael Michaels

    I would love to see Nicky tearing it up in WSB…hell, I’d love to see a Hayden/Spies Ducati WSB team.

    MotoGP is the rock star show in Europe and I imagine it would be hard to give up being a rock star but… it isn’t natural to see Nicky Hayden muddling around in 9th and 10th.

    Nicky Hayden is a winner. He’s spent his life on bikes and in the winner’s circle. His natural habitat is the podium.

    So long as he doesn’t retire I’m happy wherever he goes, be it WSB or staying in motoGP.

    See you at Laguna Seca Nicky!

  • jet

    W/ so much negativity i’m still proud to own mine.I heading out tomorrow for a weekend at Laguna Seca and i get to park my baby on the island and drink water w/ my freakin pinky sticking out…..LOL,,have fun guys and be cool to each other ,riders.

  • Arthur Dent

    It would have to work better than Italian Rider on an italian Design .

  • Hank

    @Tim…you are a moron!! Casey won races and quite a few podiums in 2010 on the Duc!

  • Tim


    why do you have start with the Name calling? Does your mom know you’re on the computer posting on here rather than doing your homework? Well you’re the idiot. You know you should get a tutor for your reading comprehension. “There has not been a top Ducati Finish since then 2007” Top Ducati Finish is a Championship. Did I say anything about Podium?

  • Ruyter

    I actually like the idea of Nicky being part of Xerox Ducati (please Xerox) together with Nicolo Canepa. ;)

    I am a follower of the red planet religion, but Ducati made imho wrong decisions with the riders. Remember 2007? Stoner as wild youngster and Capirex as teamleader (first). They should really build up a team with experience and hunger … so Hayden and Crutchlow would have been my choices. And they need at least one good rider for developement, like Alex Hofmann is at Aprilia. Doing all the testing for WSB and CRT (ART with Espagaro) and commentating for “Sport1” in German TV. Lots of info and background from him.

  • kev71

    Nicky to WorldSBK or retire. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not take a ride with a shitty CRT just to stay in MotoGP. It kills me every race to see C. Edwards finishing 15th… dude needs to hang-em-up and go to his ranch in Texas and shoot stuff!

    And anyone saying Hayden and\or Spies to Suzuki in 2015, what makes you think that bike will be competitive?

  • JW

    I am not sure how competitive Suzuki will be back in MOTOGP-15. Considering the options, this being the only one that i see right now that would be good for Suzuki and Nicky. Nicky has stuck it out with Ducati and helped them develope the bike (even though they didn’t listen half the time). Suzuki needs a skilled tenured likable rider for this task. They are not going to get this critical development out of a rookie, right? I believe Nicky too can help Suzuki sell more stuff than an unknown. So it’s not always about winning first year out, rather a general presence that gets consumers thinking, buying, riding, boating, racing, dirtbiking, ATV – ing again

  • Norm G.

    re: “This could be way out in left field but how about Hayden on a EBR Bike (American Rider on an American Design). That could be a heck of a PR campaign”

    gottdammit jim I like the way you think…! not likely, but I like it.

  • Norm G.

    re: “And anyone saying Hayden and\or Spies to Suzuki in 2015, what makes you think that bike will be competitive?”

    historical ignorance…? blind optimism…? drug use…? but I digress.

  • JW

    I said it would be a great move for Suzuki for reasons stated. The bike will surely be as good as the Duc. It’s not all about winning in MOTOGP , there are many financial interests to be gained with this marriage. It a good job for Hayden and good for Suzuki as Hayden is the most likable guy in the paddock.

  • DP

    The Ducati team is a career killer for sure, Nicky made a conscious decision to remain there for so long, basically sacrificing his career. However I dont feel bad for him, he was a world champ, he has a great life, makes lots of money, has been a GP rider for many years.. I’m mad at Ducati because of their attitude towards bike development.. seems they think that its the rider that will make a non competitive bike competitive, but in MotoGP this doesnt work.. the bike itself is the difference, as we all see now that Rossi is winning again with the Yamaha where for two years he couldn’t on the Duc. I have owned 4 Ducs and am a Ducati fan, but honestly they have no business in MotoGP.. they are a small company and cant really keep up with the costs and level of R&D necessary to be competitive in MotoGP in my opinion. Honda and Yamaha can design and build new parts to test relatively quickly, Ducati Corse simply cant. So the riders must make do with what they have while the Yamaha and Honda camps are constantly testing and upgrading. It doesn’t matter how good a rider you are, at this level of racing the bike is more a deciding factor than the rider and its very hard to overcome a situation like that. But I digress.. Good luck Nicky wherever you go, you’ll be welcome and well liked wherever you land.