Nicky Hayden is in Mugello today, testing the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS13 with Ducati Corse’s World Superbike contingent. The purpose of the day’s track excursion is surely a bid by Ducati Corse to keep Hayden in the Bolognese family, and to give Hayden an idea of the Panigale’s WSBK racing package, as the Kentucky Kid is weighing his options for the 2014 racing season.

The test coincides with rumors emanating from the WSBK paddock that Carlos Checa is reportedly looking for a way out of his contract with Ducati Corse, as the Spaniard has struggled to find results with the Italian company’s latest superbike platform. Whether Hayden is auditioning for Checa’s seat is uncertain (Marco Melandri is rumored to be in the mix as well), though we imagine Ducati wouldn’t mind having both riders on its WSBK roster next year.

That proposition will be a tough one for Hayden though, as he has been linked to multiple rides in the MotoGP paddock as well — despite Dorna’s hope for a top talent and lovable personality, like to join and inject life into the World Superbike Championship. Surely near the top of the list is a position in the NGM Forward Racing garage, where he would ride a non-MSMA spec Yamaha YZR-M1 race bike.

That move may be tough though, as Yamaha Racing has been said to be pressuring Forward Racing to sign a younger rider, to help develop Yamaha’s future talent pool, and then of course there is the issue of Colin Edwards, who has been pushing to stay with the team.

Another option may reside with Team Aspar, which will continue with the Aprilia ART package for next season. Already showing itself to having the best CRT package in MotoGP, Aprilia Racing have committed to building an all-new machine for next season, with the rumor of a pneumatic valvetrain not being denied.

With Aleix Espargaro already showing that the ART can compete with the Ducatis under the right conditions, a more powerful engine and revised chassis only whets the appetite further on what the other Italians can do in MotoGP.

Lastly, there is the possibility for Hayden to join the LCR Honda squad on the new Honda RCV1000R “production racer” machine that has been so heavily talked about in the news. Rumors in the GP paddock suggest though that Lucio Cecchinello is looking for money to bring Hayden back to Honda, and the biggest wallet that is open right now is the one from American Honda, which would like once again to use Hayden’s star power in the United States to sell some bikes.

With four interesting options, and likely additional less interesting ones, on the table for Hayden, we can understand why he is taking his time making a decision for next year. One thing is for certain though, the former World Champion is now the next levy holding back the rushing waters of the 2013 Silly Season.

Once Hayden decides where he will race next season, a slew of other contracts will be finalized. For now, we wait to hear the results of the Mugello test with Ducati and the WSBK-spec Panigale.

Photo: Ducati

  • Ian

    Nicky should stay in Moto GP as long as he can. His options for a good ride in GP are growing, with a couple being better than the bike he is riding now.

    Even with the hefty pay cut looming, riding a more competitive package for a couple years would be a great way to go out. He deserves that much.

  • Greg

    I think Nicky could do well in WSBK, but would like to see him compete in MotoGP a bit longer. Having him in WSBK could boost American interest in the series, but it would be even more effective if Dorna would get a TV contract with someone more mainstream than BeIn television…

  • Harb

    Nicky needs to completely cut ties with Bologna and move on to a competitive ride. In this era of racing, Ducatis kill careers.

  • BrianZ

    I think Nicky should go for the LCR ride on the Honda bike with American Honda $$$ to foot the bill. I think Nicky has resigned himself already to the fact that the next few years do not hold anywhere near the kind of pay he was getting from Marlboro Ducati. He can ride the GP paddock for a couple more years and then move to the WSBK paddock and still make waves there too as other GP riders have shown to do in recent past. By then more sponsorship $$$ and other bike technology will have settled into the series along with the rules package that DORNA is looking to have in place ultimately.

  • Gutterslob

    Don’t do it, Nicky…. that thing’s got no frame!!

  • Much like the frameless Desmoseidici, the Panagale seems to work best with dedicated tires and not so good with spec tires.

    I would love to see Nicky on a Honda or Yamaha production racer in Moto GP and American Honda would be wise to try to make this happen. Hayden certainly brings some star power to the brand, but perhaps equally as important, he can help develop the production racer for Honda.

  • AC

    None of the MotoGP options are going to make him a world champion again, so I don’t see why he would stay in the series. Go to WSBK and go for the triple crown…

  • Ken C.

    I agree with AC.

    I say his best bet is in WSBK where he actually has a chance of competing for the championship (in theory). Otherwise his options in MotoGP would see him in the middle of the pack, or worse, for another year.

  • lumpy

    he should join the green team in closed.

  • William

    I would like to see Nicky take the Aprilla Ride, If his objective is to stay in Motogp then Aside from a Ride with Suzuki, Aprilla seems like the only way back to a full factory seat if they decide to take the leap. Lets face the facts Yamaha and Honda Production racers will never be full factory Rides and Honda will make sure he never gets any closer to a spec bike other than walking past Marquezez garage.

    Aprilla Just needs to work out there fuel situation. Ducati Superbike program is not worth the effort unless as they allow Manufactures to choose their Tires. It’s a shame Nicky is Realizing he wasted some of the Best years of his career on a PIG of a Bike. The least that Ducati should have done is offered him a Position as a Development Rider with Wildcards.

  • Owspeed

    The Ducati 1199 was built for Spec tires… Pirelli!, which is the SBK spec tire.
    The bikes needs to be allowed to make more power (read, less restrictions for the 1200cc twin)

    I think Hayden should go to SBK.
    If you are not Mark, Jorge, Dani or even Rossi, the chances of winning in MotoGP are very slim for Hayden, as those rides will not be available.

    The racing in SBK is generally so much beter and more competitive then Moto, that it would be great to see Nicky out front again. Look at Biaggi. Mid field or runner up in MotoGP. 2 times champion in SBK.

    The Ducati MotoGP is so disappointing. Their SBK should remain their focus.

  • Neilmatic

    If Nicky is back on a Honda for MotoGP. American Honda can do an LCR Race Replica bike too. I’d bet that replica would sell just as well as the Repsol replica if not better.

  • smiler

    “His options for a good ride in GP are growing”. Which if the MotoGP rides is that.
    A good ride in MotoGP is in the top 10. None of those he is in discussions with are top ten.

  • Damo

    I hope he goes to WSBK and becomes the first MotoGP/WSBK double champion.

  • JD

    Have you really paid attention to the way he races against others? Nicky has as much heart and skills on the battle ground as any of them. he is badass but what put him out of the winning rides was his year with the number one plate in 07 if i remember correctly. Lack of results which cast doubt about his ability in my view but a move to wsbk will bring to him wins and a championship, even on a ducati 1199

  • TexusTim

    I wish he would stay in moto gp and cut the tye’s with ducati….he could do well on the apriila or the honda, honda should scoop him up but as long as ducti is sniffing around honda wont come close cuz there not going to offer him the same money but i think honda would be a solid ride if nicky could get off the duacti money tree and ride a competitve bike…and I think the honda will be fast with a good rider and team…..I also think the support from honda or aprilla would be better and faster than ducati. of course all this manuvering could be for a one year deal to ride it out till suzuki comes in 2015..I bet a lot of riders are thinking this in one way or another.

  • Tim M

    I say production Honda GP so he could stay in the premiere class. The Panigale is competitive in Superstock 1000 but Ducati isn’t doing any better in WSBK than in GP. It would suck to line up for 38 races and keep finishing 7-10th. If he goes to WSBK he should sign with Aprilia. At least he’d have a chance at winning. It’s killing me since I love Ducs!

  • kev71

    I don’t know if $ is his motivation. Hopefully he stashed away a lot of the cash he got from Ducati. If he wants a title go to WSBK and hope Aprilia has an offer because the Panigale won’t win him a title. If he wants to stay in Moto GP my guess is it would be to stick it to Ducati. It would be great to see him beat Crutchlow and Dovisioso every week!

  • WSMC#304

    Nicky, you should leave the Bologna factory.
    To me, they have never given you the right support, and have always treated you as the 2nd rider.

    I think the Honda package fits you the best.

    Don’t be another Colin Edwards and ride the ART/FART. The Honda should already be better than the Ducati you’re riding.

    BTW, I own Ducati motobikes and love em. They have real frames.

  • WSMC#304


  • L2C

    I think he should consider the two best bike options: Aprilia and Honda. Take the pay cut, more money would come later in the form of sponsorship deals after his performance improves. If Ducati couldn’t stomach keeping him in the premiere class, then they are only looking to keep him because of his marketable advertisement and public relations skills, not primarily for his riding ability.

    And besides, Ducati is not even thinking championship in either MotoGP or WSBK. They know as well as anybody else that their bikes aren’t up to running at the front in the dry.

    Nicky should welcome a completely fresh start with another team/manufacturer. He’d have a whole lot more fun again. His fans would too.

  • V

    Staying in gp will not get him “a chance for a better ride later on”. Once Hayden goes to CRT he’s never going to get a factory ride again, especially with an army of young riders coming up the ranks. Unless he’s happy riding around as a perpetual back marker, getting lapped by the factory boys. WSBK is his best choice for riding on some kind of competitive machinery, which tbh he hasn’t had since he left honda.

  • Mariani

    “The bikes needs to be allowed to make more power (read, less restrictions for the 1200cc twin)”

    Fuck that! Ducati changed the regulations and bumped their engines to 1200cc because they wanted to, and they were allowed to do so by having a lesser tuning state, greater air restriction and a minimum weight of 168kg.
    The 1199 already ditched the weight penalty, despite keeping the 200cc bump. Changing the regulations to Ducati’s favour yet again would be a big ‘fuck you’ to the rest of the competitors.


    Anyway, I like WSBK first and MotoGP, well, sometimes.

    With that in mind, I think it would be interesting to see Hayden in the production category.
    Even more so in the under performing Duke.

    Or maybe not?!

    Imagine if he ends up on World Superbike’s mid-pack because of Ducati’s performance.

    No, seriously, imagine that!

  • billy dean

    GO NICKY!!!!

  • SBPilot

    Hayden and Melandri at Ducati in WSBK – drool, though I’d be rooting for Melandri.
    The sensible choice for Hayden is to go to WSBK though. Like others said, he can have a chance to fight for the title there. In GPs, he’s going no where.

    All racers race to win, but then again there are some who are obsessed with fame (like Cal) who said he’d rather run around mid pack in GPs then win a WSBK title. I would think any racer that is running mid pack for the past 6 years is sick of it and would rather fight for wins again. And plus, I’m sure Ducati would pay him more than any other private GP team to race in WSBK.

  • WSMC#304

    While it’s true he probably stands a fair chance at winning a WSBK title as long as it’s not the Ducati, MotoGP is still the arena he prefers to compete in. With a Honda production racer he stands an excellent chance to make podium as one theorizes that it is at least going to be a better bike then the Ducati. If he stays competitive in MotoGP, there might be further opportunities when Suzuki return for example.

  • BenFaster

    Does ANYONE know what Nicky is paid for his current ride? I have it on good word that Ben commands and got a $5M U.S. out of his deal. I feel pretty certain Nicky is not at that level – but actually I have no idea about any of it.
    Anyone here actually know?

  • BDP

    Nicky won in ’06 on consistency, on the best bike, just. With only two wins that season he was a fortunate champion; remembering that Rossi chucked it away in Valencia that year while in the title lead. These days requires wins, wins, wins as well as consistent podiums. Different days.

    Not really a fan of big business making final decisions on who gets a ride in Motogp based on sponsor money and bottom lines; shouldn’t it be based on speed, talent, promise? Bring the next generation up on those satellite bikes.

  • Harb

    Everyone keeps talking about money – stuck in the mindset of the most recent silly season chapter.

    Nicky isn’t Cal. Cal was making about 300k/year at Tech 3, really not retiring money. A riders career can change at the drop of a hat (or bike). The fat stacks offered by Ducati sets Cal up financially and goes a long way to eliminating the financial concern he faced in a very uncertain profession. Now that he has the money off his mind, he can work on getting his name in the history books and on that championship trophy.

    Nicky, on the other hand, has made his millions. Twelve of them, by most reports. Cal has lots of time and no money, Nicky has lots of money but his riding years are far fewer than Cal’s. Nicky wants to make the very most out of however many more seasons he has left in the sport, so his priority is to get on the most competitive bike as soon as possible.

    Obviously, the WSBK Ducati is not that bike. It may have a big bag of cash on the seat, but probably no trophies. The non-factory M1 is probably the most competitive for 2014 – it’s the closest bike to factory-spec, the extra engine allocation and higher fuel limit will help it overcome the M1’s biggest shortfall – power. The production Honda is a similar option, but I have reasons to believe that Honda is going to make sure that the customer bike is only as good as they want it to be. Regardless, the Japanese customer bikes are the fastest ticket to the front of the pack for 2014.

    Aprilia is a slightly longer-term gambit, but I think it’s his best option. It may or may not be as strong as the off-the-shelf M1 or RCV next year, but it’s set to get some beefy upgrades that should let a talented rider do some good work with it no matter what. Aprilia is looking more and more interested in going whole-hog into the GP game, so strong results in 2014 could mean full factory involvement in two to three years. If Nicky is that rider to push them over the edge next year, 2015 and 2016 would be a very interesting time indeed. I don’t think that someone with the history of hard work and loyalty that Hayden has would have a hard time sticking out this MotoGP thing for another three seasons.

  • JW

    1) I hope he breaks all ties with Ducati, all ties..
    2) As far as the Honda statement, about bringing him back, what the hell, they fired him after he won the championship for them. Screw Honda.
    3) Yamaha why go there if they are looking for younger riders, underpowered
    4) Suzuki – not ready
    5) APRILIA the “other Itailian company” beating the Ducati team in 2014 with Hayden on board – Priceless

  • DAmn

    the panic-ale has no frame. but i cant imagine hayden without a brain.

  • smiler

    Genius JW as it looks like Aprilia will not be racing in WSBK next year…..

    Anyone any info or comment from his ride on the 1199?

  • Norm G.

    re: “I think Nicky could do well in WSBK, but would like to see him compete in MotoGP a bit longer. Having him in WSBK could boost American interest in the series, but it would be even more effective if Dorna would get a TV contract with someone more mainstream than BeIn television”

    “G-dub” sees the big picture. bravo.

  • Norm G.

    re: “of course all this manuvering could be for a one year deal to ride it out till suzuki comes in 2015”

    do yourself and your fellow motorcyclists a favor. please stop “brandishing” the name Suzuki as though it were a loaded weapon…

    IT AIN’T.

  • Norm G.

    re: “there might be further opportunities when Suzuki return”

    opportunity to lose a limb. NO DICE.

  • paulus – Thailand

    take the money….

  • motojoe

    I agree with V.

    He has laready raced around for 8thish place for too many seasons. Why go to a fART bike for more of the same. Go to WSBK and race up front.

  • motojoe

    I think a lot of us would like to see Colin go bck to WSBk also. He seems to be just filling the grid for GP when he can compete up front in WSBK.

  • WSBK should make everyone one run stocks engine internals, air boxes, gas tanks and ECU so everyone can be happy. No restrictors or different engines mods. As of now the Pinagale isn’t restricted but has to run stock internals when the 4’s ran run modified heads, pistons and crank. In SuperStock form these bikes are all very close so why change it run what you sell and if you can’t cut it build/sell a better bike. That would end all the crying. 1000cc 4’s, 1100cc 3’s, and 1200cc 2’s in stock form only mods exhaust and tires that would be cool..

  • that being said Nicky on the RSV4 would be GREAT!!

  • This is from but is credited to “staff” so it has to have been posted elsewhere as well…

    “Former AMA and MotoGP champ Nick Hayden tested the Panigale Superbike today at Mugello. Hayden did around thirty laps on the bike, and is said to have enjoyed it aside from a small harmless crash.

    There is no word is Hayden will test the Ducati Superbike again or if he will accept Ducati’s offer to pay him handsomely to race the bike in 2014.

    Italian media are vibrating today, not just because Hayden rode the Superbike, but because he also uploaded a map of a recent training run he made to the Internet. The route he took was around the area of Noale, Italy in the province of Venice.

    Noale is the home of Aprilia.”

    Who knows…maybe he is looking at Aprilia for a factory effort to stay in GP

  • Westward

    If Hayden goes to WSBK he could be a champion again or he can stay in MotoGP and remain an also ran. To the comments that Ducati’s kill careers, It seems to have done well for Stoner in MGP and Checa in WSBK. Checa, who has never known what it is like being a champion until he won on the Ducati in the recent past.

    And Stoner, his whole demeanor stems from his success on the Ducati that carried throughout his career. Not to mention, that Ducati has done well for Capirossi and Elias in MGP, and a long list of pilots in WSBK like Bayless.

    Bayless, who btw is the only pilot to every win races on a Ducati in both MGP & WSBK methinks…

  • WSMC#304

    I think that Aprilia is a viable option for Nicky but who knows how competitive it will be compared to the Honda or Yamaha racers.

    while many hear are wanting to see him in WSBK, I still tho.l MotoGP is the venue that I as a fan, want to see Nicky compete in and beat the crap out of Ducati for releasing him. Riding for them I’m WSBK is an insult and only meant to help damage control for us sales, their biggest market.

  • Rich1

    Trade one non competative Ducati for another one – no thanks. If Checa is trying to get out of the WSBK Panigale package that should tell you something. He is better off trying to get on with LCR Honda or the non factory Yamaha M1 and just continue in MotoGP. Going to WSBK on a bike that is not capable of winning the title would be a waste of Nicky’s time.

  • Poop de poop

    I’m with V.

    Why would you want to ride around in tenth place in GP and kill your career when you could be winning races and grabbing podiums in wsbk?! Everyone is bagging on Ducati, but they have more wsbk wins and championships than any other manufacturer. If anyone can win races again in wsbk its ducati and Hayden. Wsbk breeds legends the same way GP does. Besides the racing in wsbk is ten times better then GP.

    And to the guy that said he was lucky to win in 06. Are you kidding me?! That was probably the last great season gp has had! There was actual racing!! WTF

  • Poop de poop

    Rich1, Checa is like 50 years old and has gotten banged up this year. He’s not looking he’s most likely getting sacked. Also the Ducati wasn’t a full factory effort…

  • WSMC#304

    Ducati arrogance.

    Ducati have made a mistake to not retire Nicky gracefully.

    I hope Nicky turns down their WSBK offer.
    I hope he stays in MotoGP for a few more years.

  • Apparently Nick was either a .1 under or .1 over the track record for WSBK during his test and about a .1 faster than Bayliss had been on the test bike prior to his spill that was a result of not being used to the Pirelli tires (which are said to be as different as night and day from the Bridgestones used in GP).

    I hope he goes to LCR or Aprilia but this test may have given Ducati hope to retain Nicky for marketing.

  • Halfie30

    It’s easy. Edwards, Hayden, Rossi, and Spies all need to filter in to WSBK in the next couple/few years. Hayden leading the charge by being the first to go over and be in title contention is perfect!