Just call him Nicky Ducati


Nicky Hayden changing alliances nickyhayden.com

The worst-kept secret in the Moto GP paddock finally outted itself at Indianapolis, as first Repsol and then Ducati Corse issued press releases confirming that Nicky Hayden is leaving his long-term riding association and love affair with Honda and will be on the Ducati Moto GP team in 2009.

The "love affair" has unfortunately been very much a one-way street for Hayden, as ever since Spanish midget Dani Pedrosa was promoted to the factory squad the Kentucky rider has clearly been getting the short end of the stick from the Honda factory, even as a prospective and then successful world champion. It’s been a pathetic exhibition on the part of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer, the more so because it’s been returned with nothing but the utmost professionalism from Hayden.

As fellow CMG contributor Steve Bond wrote to me today, "Nicky never threw anyone under the bus publicly, never said anything negative about the team, the bike or the tires. Class all the way – something in short supply these days."



Modelling early race gear at Indy

Hayden’s world title in 2006 was on the last of the 990 cc beasts; the more 250 cc-like 800s have been a problem for him. The current Ducati, on the other hand, seems to be a ravening beast more like the old bikes; nobody except Stoner has been able to ride the damn thing all year; he’s first, everyone else on the bike is last.

Since the Desmosedici seems to respond to an aggressive, toss-it-around style, and both Stoner and Hayden have a dirt track background, it looks like a match made in heaven.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that Ducati has been chasing Hayden for years, and in fact only signed Stoner when Hayden made the mistake of remaining loyal to Honda two years ago.

The official Ducati press release follows:

Ducati Corse hereby announces that Nicky Hayden will join its factory MotoGP team for 2009. The 27-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky, will line up alongside Casey Stoner and will make his debut on the Desmosedici GP9 on the 27th October in a test immediately following the Valencia Grand Prix.

Hayden arrives at Ducati after six years in MotoGP with Honda, the highlight coming in 2006 when he was crowned World Champion. His aggressive riding style and amenable character have made him an extremely popular rider – both on the track and off it.

"We are really happy to have Nicky join us," declared Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Corse CEO and Ducati Motor Holding Product Director. "We are certain that his never-say-die attitude, riding style and character will be great additions to our team in 2009. I would like to thank HRC for allowing Nicky to start testing our bike immediately after the Valencia Grand Prix.


  1. It was nice to see Hayden at the last race, show Honda how they will regret they way they treated him.

    Rossi showed Honda, now it’s Nickys turn.

  2. Nicky Hayden has earned the racing world’s admiration and respect for the classy way he’s handled a difficult two years. He and Ducati are the eventual winners in this little drama. They should compliment each other very well.
    Honda and HRC, on the other hand, have fallen several notches on my scale because of the shoddy way they treated Hayden, particularly after he won them a world championship. It’ll be a pleasure seeing Hayden and Ducati put Honda and Pedrosa in their place next year.

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