The future of Nicky Hayden’s racing career has finally been revealed, as the factory Honda team announced its official rider lineup for the 2016, and it features the Kentucky Kid alongside rising star Michael van der Mark.
With seemingly no options in the MotoGP paddock, Hayden embarks on a move that many fans had hoped to see: competing in the World Superbikes, and potentially becoming the first rider in history win both the MotoGP and World Superbike Championship.
“Well, my next stop is Superbike with Honda! I’m very excited, obviously, to stick with Honda; it’s where I’ve had the most success in my career. World Superbikes is a championship that I followed closely as a kid when a lot of American riders were fighting at the front,” said Hayden about the news.
“It just seems like the right time and the right team to go with. I know I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s going to be a big challenge, but also I’m very motivated to start and learn what I can. I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has supported me through my MotoGP career. We had a good run but now it’s time to move on and try something different.”
Rumor has Hayden on a two-year deal with Honda, though both parties can elect not to renew that partnership at the end of the 2016 season. Hayden will ride the fickle Honda CBR1000RR SP this coming season, though Honda is widely expected to have a new Fireblade out for the following year, which would be Hayden’s best shot at the WSBK title, if he is still with the team.
Honda has been a big part of Hayden’s racing career, and his racing success. Hopefully the Japanese company’s continued support of Hayden will allow him to rise once again to the front of the pack.
Furthermore, the addition of an American into the World Superbike Championship, especially one as popular as Nicky, should hopefully spark some interest in the beleaguered series, which struggles in the USA more so than elsewhere, which is really saying something.
Source: Honda Pro Racing; Photo: © 2015 Tony Goldsmith / www.tonygoldsmith.net – All Rights Reserved