Although it was widely expected that Roger Lee Hayden would get a wildcard ride on the Kawasaki ZX-RR at the Laguna Seca MotoGP round, official confirmation stubbornly refused to appear. Now, though, Kawasaki have finally confirmed that World Champion Nicky Hayden's younger brother will definitely get a wildcard at Laguna. Hayden is currently riding for the factory Monster Kawasaki team in AMA Superbikes, which is why he was offered the ride.
The press release itself is fairly unremarkable, except for the final comments by Michael Bartholemy, the team's manager:
Originally we had no intention of running any wild card riders this year, but we were able to look again at the possibility after the Catalunya race and it quickly became apparent that there was an opportunity for us to run a third bike at Laguna Seca.
He later continues:
Who knows? Maybe this will be the start of us using wildcard riders more in the future or, possibly, running a third bike full time in the championship next year. (Emphasis added)
Dorna has been pressuring both Kawasaki and Suzuki for a long time now, to get the teams to run extra bikes and fill up the grids. This looks like it could be Kawasaki's first step towards granting Dorna's wish, opening up the prospect of another empty seat on the grid. With Kawasaki having just signed John Hopkins, and reportedly chasing both Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri, running a third bike could be the way that one of Kawasaki's current riders, either Randy de Puniet or Ant West, get to stay in MotoGP. Whatever happens, we can expect competition between the team mates to be extraordinarily fierce, their future depends on it.