Aspar Decides: Nicky Hayden To Ride A Honda In 2014

The future of Nicky Hayden appears to have been decided. Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has decided to drop Aprilia in favor of Honda, according to German language website Aspar is set to make an announcement later this week on their future, and that decision appears to be that the Spanish team will be running Honda's production racer RCV1000R for next season.

The decision was made almost inevitable once it was announced that current Aprilia racing boss Gigi Dall'Igna would be leaving the Noale factory to join Ducati. Dall'Igna and Martinez had a strong working relationship dating back to the years in which Aspar ran 125 and 250cc team, and Aspar's faith in Aprilia's MotoGP program was based on the strength of that relationship. With Dall'Igna gone, that leaves Aprilia's MotoGP program in disarray - at least, temporarily - and makes the Honda production racer the best option. Aspar also had the option to run a Ducati GP13 as a customer bike with the spec Dorna software, but with Dall'Igna just arrived and little chance of any updates to that bike, it was not a promising option. 

The decision was made despite a last-ditch effort by Aprilia to retain Aspar. New Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano had flown to Malaysia to try to persuade Aspar to stick with the Noale factory, but the uncertainty over Aprilia's future in racing meant his efforts were in vain.

American Honda's financial contribution to help get Nicky Hayden back on a Honda helped to make the choice for the Honda easier. Whether HRC also helped to sweeten the deal is unknown, but of the five bikes Honda have already built, only two had been sold, one to the Gresini Honda team for Scott Redding, and one for the Cardion AB team for Karel Abraham. Having four bikes on the grid instead of two will make developing the machine much easier, especially with a proven veteran like Nicky Hayden on board.

Aspar's defection from Aprilia leaves only the PBM team with any links still to Aprilia. The British team is currently racing Aprilia's RSV4-based engine in their own chassis, but there have been rumors that Paul Bird's team may drop the Aprilia lump in favor of something else. The Aprilia engine is handicapped by the spec software, as the engine is designed to make use of the butterfly exhaust valve for improved mid-range, but Magneti Marelli have not implemented software control of this yet, nor are they likely to in the near future, other algorithms being given priority. With the functionality list being determined by the popularity of an item, requests for functionality to help one specific engine technology tend to be put to the back of the queue.

Who Hayden's team mate will be is as yet unknown. Aleix Espargaro has been released to the NGM Forward team for 400,000 euros, 300,000 of which comes from the Forward team, and 100,000 of which comes from Espargaro himself, in the form of him foregoing his bonus for winning the title of best CRT rider. Eugene Laverty had been linked to the ride, but Laverty was an Aprilia appointee, and with Aspar switching to Honda, he may not have a place in the team. According to Speedweek, the list of possible riders could also include Yonny Hernandez or Hiroshi Aoyama. Current rider Randy de Puniet looks set to take on a full time role as tester for Suzuki, who will be making their return to MotoGP in 2015, if all goes to plan.

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Glad tohear Hayden is back on a Honda. Still think hewas ROYALLY SCREWED by them the year after he won a title. But with Ducati alsokicking him to the curb this does not loook tobe such a bad optiozn.

In 2007 Nicky won zero races. When he won his championship he won 2.
In 10 seasons of MotoGP, 6 of which were on Honda's factory machines, the undisputed best bikes, he has won a total of 3 races. One of which was gifted to him by Colin Edwards.
Seems a nice enough guy and a good but not great rider but he's been gifted a MotoGP career well beyond his results and abilities. His championship was won fairly but with a huge amount of bad luck and errors on the part of others. If his passport was other than USA he'd have been shown the door years ago.
Honda chose Dani as he was a better bet, correctly in my opinion, in comparison to Nicky. He won as many races in his first year as Nicky did and he continued to win the next year in a season dominated by Stoner and has continued to challenge for championships ever since. Nicky, conversely, has never even looked close to championship contender.

As much as I like the guy. He joined Repsol Honda in 2003 and got his first win two years later. I definitely think he deserved the championship in 2006, but I don't think he would ever have been able to repeat that.

When have you ever beat VR46 in his prime and win a GP championship?

NH has my respect for that simple reason. I can't deal with people who say a world champion who is one of 9 fastest motocyclists in the worls not a "great rider."

How is this relevant? The above poster is not in the MotoGP world championship and not racing against VR. Plenty of other people who have (when both were on competitive machinery) are, and Pedrosa is one of them. In his Rookie season.

This is why he was kept, and Nicky was shown the door.

Did I say he could win a championship, no. What I did say is where he is going is better option than where he is. Almost gauranteed to do better. Pedrosa has won more races, and does have more talent, but he is weaker mentally. Otherwise he would have won a title by now. Hayden does not have the same level of talent or speed, but he does not BITCH, he just does the best he can do and not throw it all away with his own mistakes when it counts. To this day, if one rider wins a World Championship, I have not seen that team make a bike for the rider who LOST. Custom tailored for Pedrosa, not for Pedrosa AND teammate. Honda gambled and lost until years later. Nicky may not have been World Champion again, but he may have shown to be a better rider than some think if he had a bike under him that had more features just for him.

Yes being an American has helped Hayden keep a seat. But he was good for podiums on a regular, now I could see him battling for 5th. But there are several riders in that bunch. Dovi being one of them when on something other than Ducati. Those two, (Hayden and Dovi) seem pretty equal in speed to me.

So in closing. All I was saying is that Nicky DOES have a chance of doing better on a better machine than he is riding now. As far as World Champions, Marquez and Lorenzo. Unless both get hurt. Pedrosa if someone pisses him off deep enough. Other than that....maybe Rossi or someone moving from Moto2 will SURPRISE some.

Sorry but I just don't hold with the "weaker mentally" stuff. Pedrosa won 3 world titles in the smaller classes by beating more than a dozen future or current world champions, including Stoner and Lorenzo to name but a few. You don't achieve that by being mentally weaker than your competition. The number of race wins speak to his mental toughness, not to mention how many times he's had to pick himself off the floor (literally) after injuries. In fact it's the latter, rather than his mental fortitude that has kept him from getting the clean sweep of class titles.
I'm pleased for NH69 though. Seems like a nice guy and we saw the best of him on a Honda in 2005 and obviously 2006. Is he going to do better than where he is now? Possibly, if the bike is more sorted and he's surrounded by the right people. In a surgically precise racing environment where 10th and 100ths decide contenders and also rans ('aliens' aside of course) anything can happen. After all, that's why they line up on Sunday....

I am not speaking of smaller classes. I speak of Motogp, the top step. Stoner, Lorenzo. Both people he beat soundly in the lower classes. But not in the big one. He has the talent and raw speed to win a title against anyone. He has crashed of his own volition many times when he looked to be a true contender, (see Phillip Island 2012). There is no reason other than his own mental mishaps for not taking a title. I even ROOTED for him to win last year. He jacked it up, no one else.

The Aliens all ride on another plane of existence from the average Motogp racer. But the others seem make better decisions than him. It is about to be three teammates that have taken the World Title on the same bike and team as him. A team he joined that tried to center their strategies around him. What else does he need to make it happen? This year has got to be the most embarrassing. A rookie comes in and makes him look like the rookie.

It is not his talent, it is not that the team does not support him. The problem is in him. He is on THE best team in Motogp. And has been the best team since the Doohan days.

Dani was effective robbed last season by hardware failure with the front brake fiasco, and was screwed pretty badly this season by the traction control failure.

He's also had a shocking run of injury.

That is nothing to do with mental toughness; if Dani was mentally weak, he would have given up bike racing several years ago.

Ducatis are giving up a second+ to the hondas now. I don't expect them to have any magic next year. I expect the customer rcv to be giving up around the same to the factory honda.

I expect to see Nicky and Cal trading paint and not crying about it afterwards.

... Nicky's Honda will carry 24 liters of fuel while all of the factory bikes will lose another liter for 2014. I'm hoping this combined with a chassis Nicky can (finally!) exploit will give him a shot at the top 5 more often than not. Could be an upset year overall if the top teams struggle with a mere 20 liters of fuel.

The catch with this is that they'll be slower than the Factory machines in final qualifying where fuel limits are off. So expect to see the customer bikes on the 3rd row. But then they should be able to maintain a higher power, more speed and have finer throttle control in the race which should give them a small edge. Except that the spec software may not be as sophisticated.

In the end, I expect the two classes to have similar race pace, but the end results will all depend on how well everybody gets off the line and from where on the grid.

So the big question. Can Hayden on a customer RCV with 24L stay with and challenge Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo? I think probably not. How about Rossi, Bautista and Bradl? I think, probably yes.

It's already known that the production racer will not carry 24 liters. Nakamoto has already said so. It'll be interesting to see how much fuel they do carry and if it can help to close the gap to the prototypes at all. I have my doubts.

If American Honda and especially HRC are backing the team, I'm not so sure they'll be able to do exactly as they please. Carrying more fuel could invalidate any techincal support that Honda provides, but that is pure speculation on my part. I have a hard time believing that Honda is going to sell a bike that has any realistic shot at getting too close to any of its prototypes, although I'm sure they'd like to see it beat any of the other bikes on the grid. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I'm hoping for the best.

It will be very interesting to see what kind of modifications teams will be able to perform on the Production Honda.

Honda holds the reigns with parts that are no doubt already engineered and manufactured. I could see them providing a user agreement clause which prevents teams from modifying the bike if they want to keep receiving updates.

Add American Honda in to the mix and Aspar's hands may be tied.

Who knows, maybe the Production Honda can have a few tenths hotrodded out of it with 3rd party pneumatic valves and the full 24l of fuel.

The whole idea of purposely dumbed down bikes eludes me though. It's poor sportsmanship IMO. What's the point if it's built specificaly NOT to win? That's why teams should be given free reign over the production Honda, at least give them a chance by leaving them to their own devices.

Yeah, Matt. That's exactly what I'm thinking, too.

As far as Honda's motivation to provide dumbed down bikes, put yourself in their position. Why would they create more legitimate competition for their factory and satellite riders at a fraction of the budget they spend? It seems producing the RCV1000R does a few things for them. The first is that it helps to meet Dorna's cost-cutting objectives and quells some of the Honda critisism. They can now claim to be offering a solution to the cost problem instead of being the cause.

More signifiicantly, it helps them maintain the status quo. Honda now controls more of the equipment on the grid. They don't really care if it's totally fair because the competition extends way beyond what actually happens on track. Aprilia could have actually made life a little more difficult for the established factories. I bet Honda was pleased to be able to snag Aspar and Hayden, because it all but puts the final nail in any Aprilia challenge. Now, at least for the next three years, they have a nice three-tiered hierarchy in place with no current wild cards around to make trouble. Looking at it from that perspective, I can't say I blame them.

Imagine Nakamoto having to go in front of the Honda board of directors asking for a hundred million dollars or so to continue with the prototype program when their budget racer is nipping at their uber-unobtainium prototypes' heels. It might be a harder argument to make even though, under the current rules, the prototypes give them the best chance of success.

If they truly wanted to provide a more level playing field, they could probably sell year-old RC213Vs (without a seamless gearbox) for the same money. But again, that would give competing teams access to technology they don't want them to even see, much less have.

The other thing it gets them is an established platform for any coming new world order in 2017. If Dorna gets its way, and it's looking like it might, there won't be any more "factory option" bikes as we know them today. The RCVR will be decent, and probably a good choice for new riders and teams who want to stay in the series currently, but it could very well be the cream of the crop when the prototypes fade away, especially with three more years of development and some upgrades for Honda's top riders/teams.

I agree with your statement about Honda that their proddy racer will not be as fast as the factory bike. Back in the 90's (not sure, but it should be around 98) they made the new NSR250 not compatitive compared to the RS 250 on wich your fellow countryman McWilliams with BQR support was using. In about two or three months Honda modified the NSR and it was faster then the RS racer and things were back to normal. Oooo those sweet two stroke memories, hope to see them back on track again without these rules about fuel consumption and most off all no electronics to support the rider.

I don't think HRC will struggle with 20 L at all, as they wouldn't have pushed for the fuel restriction otherwise.

Yamaha? I think they may struggle at some tracks. I suspect 5th place will be about the best Nicky can hope for though, more likely 8th, behind the factory-ECU hondas, and factory-ECU Yamahas (when they dont run into fuel problems).

I'm glad Aspar, HRC, American Honda, and Hayden were able to make it happen. It sure as hell beats the other alternative. It would have been painful irony to have Hayden ride the GP13 again.

But I wouldn't be totally shocked to see a switch to Ducati in 2015 if Dall'Igna gets the house of Bologna in order. Aspar to replace Pramac as the Ducati junior team? I could see that happening.

Aprilia certainly put its foot in it, didn't it? They've now jeopardized the entire ART project, which was so promising, and potentially left the entire production bike supply to Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati.

So pleased for Nicky that he's got a customer Honda (albeit a watered down version). Really deserved and good to see that Honda North America managed to see the validity of this. Bet he cannot wait for 2014 now!!

Something to remember...the proddy Honda is pretty similar to the 990 he won the world championship on. He will be fine and may even challenge for a few podiums. Better than the last 2 years anyway.

A 990 would be nowhere now. Time has marched on: the current bikes are heavier, more powerful, more electronic.

What worries me is that the non-factory route was a promising way to prise the rules out of the hands of the factories, by taking away their monopoly on providing competitive bikes. The non-factory Honda is potentially a counter-attack...

I've been watching GP racing for over thirty years now and Hayden's is the only case I can remember of a world champion not getting support from the factory he won the championship for when it was time for him to defend his crown. He won that championship whilst testing parts for Pedrosa's bike and was given a bike that made him look like a circus bear to defend his title. I remember it took Honda some three races to give him an adult sized fairing so that he didn't have to use his arms to stay on the bike, thus allowing the front suspension to work properly. The least one would expect is that they would have developed the fairing in the wind tunnel FOR THE WORLD CHAMPION, but they were more interested in making Pedrosa the next world champion. To this day, they are still insisting on that.

Available for Hayden. At least it should stop & turn like GP bike. Too bad about Aprilla's turn of events. They were really close.

HA! Awesome. The thing might not be as fast as a factory bike, but you're right, you know it's going to handle well. God, this thing is gonna feel like a full-on, fettled-by-Jesus prototype to Nicky, compared to what he was riding. Best of all options for him, especially if some of the side benefits that I've heard whispered come true.

Alright, Dish! "Best of all options for him, especially if some of the side benefits that I've heard whispered come true."

What do you mean by that?

[I am so thrilled he's not on a Duc for 2014]

Simply rumor, with a fair bit of guessing on my part, but if Honda's coming out with a new Superbike racer, they'll need someone to make it look real good, won't they? It would be a nice retirement plan for the rest of Nicky's career. And it wasn't that long ago that factory riders did races like Suzuka. Honda might not want to risk Pedrosa and Marquez there, but guys like Bradl and Hayden who (realistically) won't be challenging for the title might be up for something like that.

It's a good PR move for Honda. Hopefully, they'll hear less of the "HRC never respected Nicky" bleating, especially if HRC is in the mix of supporting him. Nicky draws a lot of attention, and if he can luck into a podium or two, give them some feedback on development, and maybe do some Superbike, it's all good for them. And being on a Honda should make Nicky more valuable to his personal sponsors.

At its core, though, think about it. If you can't have a factory ride, can you think of anything else you'd rather be riding than the Honda customer racer?

i somehow see this as Nicky Hayden being shoehorned into the V4 superike duties in the not too distant future. Good on him if he does

Sad to see what might be the beginning of their decline. Possibly no bikes in MotoGP, and not so great bikes when we see the EVO rules take effect in WSBK.

At this point I'm interested to know (and I apologize if David already stated the answer in a previous article) if Aprilia *chose* not to keep Gigi thinking they could do it without him, or if they simply *couldn't* due to a financial impossibility.

Because this seems like an utter disaster to their entire racing program across the board, and I wonder if someone's in big big trouble.

I'd be really interested to know, too. As far as I can make out, one of two things probably happened: Either Aprilia led Gigi down the garden path (and Aspar/Hayden) without a clear committment to pushing faster towards a factory-option-type program, or Gigi was using his leverage from the Ducati offer to force Aprilia to do it and got Aspar and Hayden on board because he was certain he could pull it off.

I read a quote from an anonymous Aprilia insider that stated that the plan was to build towards an official factory team in 2017, when the new power/rules paradigm is established. Perhaps Dall'igna saw an opportunity to make it happen faster and simply could not get sign off on it.

I'd really like to know what actually happened.

So far, Aprilia will not commit to move up to the 2014 factory class due to lack of funds. Rumor is that some factories will close for some time to cope with the slow sales in Europe. Not sure if that is related to the Piaggio sales or Aprilia sales.

Which leads me to believe the reason was my speculation #1, but, in which case, nothing more could probably done. I'm imagining that Aprilia probably tried to get Aspar to hang on another year with at most a mildly upgraded version of the current bike and hope 2015 brings more funding from the mother ship.

I feel bad for the rank and file at Aprilia and the people in their racing program. Although, no doubt, some will be headed to Ducati.

Piaggio were not willing to increase the financial support required for Aprilia participation in MotoGP. Their sales have been dismal and board did not approve further monies if it ain't translating into sales.. Compare this to Ducati who offered Gigi Carte Blanche and it was easy to see why Gigi did what he did.

As an Aprilia fan this is (more) really bad news, I was very exited to see the new bike next year and to see it in some capable hands. I will still be placing my most irrational and anger fueled hopes in the 2014 ART (please let there be a 2014 ART) being just as fast as the Forward Yamahas, Aspar Hondas and even factory Ducatis, actually since I'm very, very angry I'll be hopping for a miraculous decimation of those bikes by the ART (a man can dream).

I think the reason the decision kept getting delayed was because Nicky was waiting to hear from Stoner on how competitive the bike was. Just my humble opinion.

It's rumored that Honda uses 20 liters this year and if that is true I can't see them being slower in 2014. The RCV1000R don't stand a chance.

But nice to see Nicky on something else than the miserable Ducati.

He should reconsider his decision to quit Aspar, now that they are switching to Honda, and he can save $100,000 himself.

Not so sure on that. He'll have a proper race bike motor with control ECU, on this year's M1 chassis, effectively. This is a pretty proven motor+chassis.

The new customer honda is a total unknown.

Plus, I suspect it is way too late for him to change his mind now.

I see Esparago as the biggest loser in all this. $100k of your own money, bunch of finagling, to get out of your contract then only to find out your ride might be the best of the rest. At this stage there is no reason to doubt that the customer spec RCV will be any slower than Forward's M1 engine/chassis package. He just went through a bunch of effort and jumping hoops for nothing IMO.

Sometimes you just have to let things play out. Nicky with the support of his family has been really good about not making bonehead moves. Esparago... that's the way the dominoes fall.

I wouldn't be so sure just yet. He's basically going to be riding this year's Tech 3 bike, minus fuel tank, airbox, seat, and Yamaha software. What it will have is pneumatic valves, which the Honda production racer will not. This should allow for a higher rev ceiling, thus better horsepower. Paired with a user friendly chassis and Aleix's skill, it might be the best he could get compared with the Honda! ;)

tech 3 have already been running out of fuel the last couple of seasons.

pneumatic valves are all well and good, but if they're going to have to dial power back due to lack of fuel, they're not going to be making as much top end power as they otherwise might.

AFIK, there hasn't been any official announcement about Aleix Espargaro moving to NGM in 2014. So in theory he is still signed with Aspar for next season, right? Perhaps this announcement will convince him to keep his 100k euros and stick with Aspar.

The big factories don't want aprillia in coz aprillia can beat em if given time, so I feel ducati lured gigi using money bags n saved their ass from aprillia

Making a great aquisition for the company's racing department (Ducati Corse, which let's be honest hasn't been going that great, in MotoGP and WSBK), at the same time that they provoke a huge loss in one of the most direct rivals in those two categories was, no doubt, like "killing two birds with one stone" for Ducati.

If Honda and Yamaha are applauding this? ...maybe, I'm not sure.

I'm actually more concerned that this whole Dall'Igna move, and now Aspar to race the Honda customer bike, may be hiding more than we can see about Aprilia, and I don't mean just their MotoGP ART...

American Honda seems to have been the smartest player of this deal with Aspar/HRC. With the sportbike market being in the toilet especially in America... having Nicky on a Honda again is marketing genius! Hayden's 'selling power' is needed to help boost sales for the current and future Honda models. It's a win-win situation for all involved I would say. Aleix Espargaro wanted to be on the same brand as his brother Pol I think. Aleix is thinking that he could be in good standing with Yamaha to take a factory seat next to his brother someday. Now can Aspar/HRC get J.Rea out of his contract with Ten-Kate to join Hayden? Rea would be an awesome team-mate for Hayden.

Bittersweet really. I'm glad to see Nicky end up on what should be a relatively competitive bike. I would also be happy to see Ducati become competitive again with the addition of Dall'Igna. The real loser here is Aprilia and I am sad about that. They were so close to getting a promising package together. It sounds like there aren't enough talented engineers to go around at the moment... a shame.

... realy ?

I understand fans always look at the bright side of things, but there are at least 8 and probably 10 bikes faster than the proddy RCV. and that's without the NGM Yam's.
First he needs to beat Redding before thinking of getting within the top 10.

From what I've read on Superbikeplanet, Aprilia probably simply can't afford to go racing. They are furloughing employees, maybe until December. Sales have cratered.

I'd always thought that the CRT rules were in place to prevent exactly what Aprilia did - to "back door" their way into MotoGP without having to put out the kind of cash the other manufacturers did to develop a prototype. To keep them from developing a GP bike out of their production bike. Which is exactly what Aprilia did, so it always mystified me how the ART bikes were ever allowed to come into being.

I think the Honda will be the most refined package from the off (customer bike speaking), and depending what Aspar are allowed to do with the bike - maybe add pneumatic valves, more fuel, etc. along with the progress Magneti Marelli will make with the spec software (I'd expect MM to make the Hondas the top priority for their development) they might eventually be able to do something, by which I mean eventually be able to hang with the satellite bikes and the Ducatis.

Well, the whole point of the CRT's was to increase the number of bikes on the starting grid. The rules were never put there to prevent the development of a prototype, but to prevent the use of an existing prototype, specifically Honda's and Yamaha's.

You can pretty much consider "CRT" to be synonymous with "Potential Vultures Class". Being a CRT meant that an engine could be purchased at any time by any other team for dirt cheap. It was assumed that the threat of having your engine's secrets exposed to the opposing team would keep Honda & Yamaha out of the class. (Because honestly, does anyone really envy the Ducati engine?)

After that, I'm pretty sure that Dorna turned a blind eye to everything else that happened in the CRT class, since the main purpose of the class was to increase the grid. Anyways, it's not like the ART's are demolishing the rest of the CRT field. Slight advantage, yes. But nowhere near the advantage the RC213Vs and the M1s have over the field.

We can bunch up the pit scooters in the back of the grid too, call it a"third" class. Prototype, CRT's, Pit Scooters. The grid sure is full now! I keep hearing this little voice in my head arguing quantity vs. quality though.

By the way, the Ducati Motor is a missle. I'm sure Honda would love to get a look inside that motor, if anything just to have a good laugh...

"When put next to reports that test rider Takumi Takahashi lapped half a second slower on the RCV1000R than on the RC213V, that would put Stoner’s time within a few tenths of his time on the factory bike. That would make Honda’s production racer a very competitive package." quote from a report by A/R.

The bike is fast, but it is not seconds slower than the factory bikes, like the current Ducati. We should be seeing tenths slower. The big questions will be how well will it manage tires? Will they get different tires than the factory bikes?

Have Dorna give the CRT/Customer bikes the ability to work with other tire manufacturers to develop tires for these bikes and let's see how how close they get to the Aliens. Factory bikes must use Bridgestones and all other bikes can use Dunlop, Michelin, or Pirelli. Now that could be fun!

...for the possiblity that it ain't that fast, either. Takahashi's test times are encouraging, but not really evidence of anything. His ceiling is not as high as a top race rider, so he surely can't get the same performance out of the prototype. And that last 2% is the difference between a test rider and a race rider. I wouldn't bank on the performance ceilings of both bikes being completely relative, either, meaning that Takahashi might have been able to get near the limit of the production racer, but not as close to the prototype's. Stoner's actual times would give us a much better idea.

The Honda could make life very unpleasant for Ducati until they get something better on the grid and maybe trouble the Tech 3s since they have two relatively inexperienced riders.

Let's say Tito Rabat pulls off the Moto2 title this year ahead of Redding and Espargaro, and lets pretend he doesn't have a Moto2 contract for next year...

Do you put him on that second Aspar seat if available or do you punish him for being Spanish and make him do another round of Moto2?

Great to hear that Nicky will be on a Honda in 2014, but it's gotta be said... Valentino Rossi is past his best, Colin Edwards has been for a while. How many of the old-school are left? Nicky was AT his consistent best in 2006, he rode great that year. That was over 7 years ago.

Given that Nicky has spent a miserable few years at Ducati, why would anyone think that he would suddenly be competitive given a Honda (especially a 2nd rate Honda)? I hate to pose this question as I still reckon Hayden is a superstar and a real jewel of the sport; but be honest, both Rossi at Ducati and Dovi at Ducati both outscored Nicky. You ever considered he might have had his day in MotoGP (to be competitive).

Rossi is back on a Factory Yamaha and is doing okay (but not spectacular). If Nicky was back on a Repsol Honda what makes anyone think he would be anywhere near the front?

You might be right and I doubt Hayden would be running with the Spanish trio even if he was given top equipment. But the fact is no one knows where he is for sure. The truth is that he's been very close to both Rossi and Dovi as the 2nd rider in the team. Let's not forget that; he has always been the #2 at Ducati and was not given the support the others have had. Without the engine failure at Sepang, it was looking like he could have beaten Dovi and he was catching Smith. It might have been a very different result at the end of the year.

It's just as easy to argue that he could have actually improved as a rider over those five miserable years. Unfortunately, he'll actually be on a third-rate Honda.

Yes, Nick was banished to Siberia for all intents at Ducati, but I don't think he has lost his will to fight. He is a rider's rider. so, yes, i think he will have to get used to a bike that turns, offers feedback, etc., but, and here come the flame throwers, jjuxtapose this to Vale.
Rossi was also banished to Siberia but i just don't see him riding with the same sense of urgency that he used to (except Qatar) and he has said as much in interviews regarding what he will/won't risk out there.
There is no question Nick never didn't leave it all out on track. I think he adapts well and if rumored times of the proddy are to be believed i think he is chasing down Bautista.
Just like everyone, however, just a wild assed guess.
MGP and the fans would be well served to have a few more "Haydens" on track.

... i think is dealing with an M1 that has been tuned to Lorenzo's strengths (corner speed) rather than his own (late braking), and thus he has been complaining about the braking.

Everything he was saying about the problems with the ducati was shown by the string of front end crashes Stoner had towards the end of his tenure there, have been shown by the similar issues Dovi is having and complaining about.

So, I take him at his word regarding his comments on the M1 recently.

I still think Rossi will have a better 2014 than this year. I'm not sure he'll be a championship winner, but last weekend in qualifying proved he is still fast when things are working properly.

I don't think it's so much that Rossi has lost it or become slower - the bar has simply been raised in his absence on the square wheeled red bike, and he's now playing catch up.

Also - lets not forget; it's clear that Honda have made a significant step since midway through the 2012 season. Not to take anything away from the job Dani and Marc have been doing, but the HRC bike is currently looking like the complete package, whereas this year Yamaha have been playing catch up, trying to get some more speed and acceleration off the turns.

Given that, with 2 "better" HRC bikes (with extremely competent riders) and a world champion team mate who has had the bike tweaked for him for 2 years, finishing any better than fourth is always going to be difficult.

That last 1-2% is something he can hopefully figure out between now and next season.

Can a chassis developed for JL be enough to prevent VR to brake & turn?

Bear in mind that if you are one TENTH off per lap on average, over race distance that's typically 2-3 seconds behind.

Think about that for a little bit - how much of an inconvenience would the bike have to be to your riding to cause you to be a tenth of a second slower around a circuit?

It's not that he can't brake and turn at all, but say he loses half a tenth in 3-4 corners because the bike doesn't handle the way he likes and reduces his confidence / level of commitment, and we have the current situation where he's consistently several seconds back.

I bet Nicky and Dovi are sick and tired of racing each other by now. They are consistently close with some of the best battles on tbe track this year. So Nicky basically runs with Dovi this year, Dovi ran with Cal last year (better actually), Cal runs with Rossi Bradl Bautista this year. Seems to me like you could throw a blanket over them (yes I know Rossi outscored Hayden last year)

I'm an American and a Hayden and I'm super happy for him to spearhead the honda production racer and I would love him to move to WSBK when tbey introduce their other new bike.

Huh! Lo, we both did this same reply at about the same moment. Howzabout that?! ;)

Earl is that you? :)
I don't see the production racer Honda having the motor and overall package to challenge past 8th much. I bet it is a good fit for Nick and they get on fine, just mid pack at best.
Gives Suzuki a good target for baseline pace. Too bad for the potential loss of the Aprilia, it is a neat bike and a cool David for the Japanese Goliaths. Was looking fwd very much to the Ducati-Aprilia-prod Honda-Yamaha engined sweet framed bikes showdown.

The Ducatis are always in a battle among themselves each and every race! A sad sight for a Factory-team running mid-pack all season, again. The Ducatis have CRTs and Bradley Smith (a rookie) besting them an awful lot. Another sad sight for a Fatory-team! Now Hayden will be on a Honda again... 3-rate or not... any Honda is better than the Factory-Ducati right now! I bet J.Rea's WSB CBR1000rr would beat the Ducati GP bike right now on a tight track. The RCVr will be easier to set-up and ride for Nicky. Once the bugs are worked-out (I'd say by mid-season 2014) all the RCV-Rs will be closer to the Honda and Yamaha factory bikes than the Ducatis, ARTs, and the Tech3 riders. And as far as Nicky riding ability after 7 years... we will see in 2014 where he stacks up! IMO... 5th or 6th place finishes. Hayden still has the drive and fight in him that will make us all proud... the man can ride the wheels off a motorcycle! I hope Honda does a Nicky Hayden-Livery CBR1000rr in the future...

9 unforgettable years, with Honda. 5 forgetable years with Ducati. Last Call... Just like 06, deck of cards on Nickys leathers, All In..

Its a Win Win for Honda and Nicky. As a die hard Hayden fan from his dirt tracking days til now. No I dont expect him to win the title, But hell, at least it will be fun watching him fight for a top 5 or even top 8. Finish your career on a Honda and he will have a job for life.

David, we need Scott Jones to the a pic of Nicky when he takes his helmet off after his first stint in Valencia. He'll probably be smiling from ear to ear thinking "Holy Shit this bike can be turned into a corner"!!

For F%@# sake HRC let the man who gave you a title in 06 finish his career with you, then off to the hard pack of Peoria on a CRF450!!! Nicky back on a Honda!! Whats Pete Benson doing next yr!!

As a fan of Nicky's I fear we'll rue this day. Something is rotten...

Top 8 instead of top 10.

Sometimes it's better to go home. He should have asked Casey about that.

I just read the piece Sport Rider published on their site. The dateline was the 14th, so take that for what it's worth.

They also reported that the word was Aspar would likely be announcing a deal with Honda. But what was interesting about it was how frantic that Aprilia was reported to be to save the Aspar/Hayden deal. According to Sport Rider there were lots of meetings in Sepang and escalated offers by both Aprilia and Honda.

In the event that nothing has been signed yet, is it possible that Aprilia tries to save the day in the dying moments?

The smart money says Aprilia is out, especially since Martinez has been saying all along that he would leave Aprila if Dall'Igna left. But could this thing get weirder still?

At the very least, it's good to know that Aspar and Nick might have gottten the best deal possible from Honda.

As for Ducati, they apparently also made a pitch, with Sport Rider speculating that it included factory support. Apparently, Hayden is really not interested and not at all happy with Ducati's upper managment.

Perhaps someone should explain the virtues of poultry farming to Aprilia, maybe people can't afford to sports bikes or scooters at the moment but most eat chicken and eggs. Apparently it's a proven way of funding motor sport enterprises....

Hayden gets a lot of flak for being 2nd to Rossi,stoner and dovi but when has Hayden ever got the top Bike in the garage. He looked like a teenager on a pocket bike when he won the championship with the Parts Bin special. Took HRC 3 Goddamn races to get a fairing for Nickys size. I bet if you put him on YAMAHA factory bike he will go and hassle the frontrunners till kingdom come purely on the built up angst on the treatment he has received everywhere from Honda to Ducati.

So Aprilia have been completely screwed by Dorna's ECU programming schedule? So that means they have no choice! They have to enter with Eugene Laverty on a Factory package with pneumatic valves. Otherwise all of their work in MotoGp has been for absolutely nothing. Come on Aprilia, don't let Ducati and Dorna screw you! Ducati is the worst team in the world, and Dorna are incompetent bastards. Design your own ECU and enter as a factory. At the very very least you will be dicing with the new Honda prototypes if you can find a good rider. That is better than being nowhere at all!