Now Official: Aspar Switches To Honda, Signs Hayden

As expected, the Aspar team today announced they would be switching from Aprilia to Honda for the 2014 season in MotoGP. The team has signed a two-year deal with Honda to race the RCV1000R production racer, and will field 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden on one of the bikes.

The reasons behind dropping Aprilia and their highly successful ART machine are simple: after the departure of chief engineer Gigi Dall'Igna, the future of Aprilia's MotoGP program is in severe doubt. American Honda had lobbied hard to have Hayden back on a Honda, and his signing came with the blessing and support of HRC. Having a top level rider on the production racer - and one with many years of experience on a factory bike - should help to develop the bike, providing valuable input for HRC. American Honda's financial contribution in getting Hayden on the bike was also a key factor.

Who will be the second rider alongside Hayden is as yet unknown, but the strong paddock rumor at the moment is that it will be Hiroshi Aoyama. Aoyama has a strong relationship with Honda, after winning the final 250cc world championship for them in what was a vital coup against their rivals Aprilia. Having a Japanese rider on the grid is important to both Honda and especially Dorna, and with Takaaki Nakagami set to stay in Moto2 for another season, Aoyama has strong backing from Dorna. Colombian rider Yonny Hernandez' name is still being bandied about, but he looks like being an outsider for the seat. Hernandez could end up at Blusens, taking the place of Aoyama at the Spanish team.

Below is the press release from Aspar announcing the tie up with Honda and Hayden:


POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR TEAM BEGIN NEW ADVENTURE WITH HONDA

Spanish team to enter MotoGP World Championship next season with Honda's 'MotoGP Production Racer' and former World Champion Nicky Hayden on board

Ever since the dawn of the CRT era in MotoGP the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team has been a leading light and a point of reference in the new category. After dominating last year the 2013 season has followed much the same path and with three races remaining the CRT 'title' is within touching distance. With the regulations set to change again for 2014 and the CRTs due to give way to a new breed of production racers designed to bring the grid even closer together, the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team is keen to move with the times and can now confirm a new alliance with Honda. The team will run the Japanese factory's new 'MotoGP Production Racer' in 2014, with former World Champion Nicky Hayden as its main rider.

The new machine, which is based on the Honda RC213V prototype, has already been tested in Japan by the Hamamatsu factory test riders and is showing a competitive level of performance. The team will take delivery in time for the official MotoGP post-season test at Valencia in November, marking a return to the factory that the team first started with in 1992. It also marks a return of sorts for Hayden, who won the MotoGP World Championship with Honda back in 2006. The objective for the team run by Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’ is clear: to continue being a point of reference in the premier class of motorcycle racing.

Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “It is great news for the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team to have the acquired services of Honda and a rider of the profile of Nicky Hayden. We are taking a huge step forward in terms of quality, prestige and image. We have grown a lot in a short space of time and we are all very excited about this new project with Honda. It is the factory that the ASPAR Team first started with back in 1992 and I have great memories of that period. Our objective is to continue being a reference point in the premier-class. I think the combination of Honda's MotoGP Production Racer and Nicky Hayden is going to be a very successful one. We are thrilled to be working with a manufacturer with the history that Honda has and a rider like Nicky, a World Champion with huge experience. It will be a big change for us after so many years working with Italian factories but we have high hopes for this new project. We are up for the challenge and we will give maximum effort to making sure the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team continues achieving top results.”

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Comments

Now I look forward to seeing what Nicky can do for the next two seasons. And, as an employee of a Honda dealership, I start hoping like hell that Honda America can finally get its marketing head out of its ass and make something of Hayden's contract.

Take a few lessons from Ducati guys. Maybe they can't build a good race bike, but they can certain sell more than a few 'signature' series bikes. Quickly.

Total votes: 39

I am glad that Nicky will be given the opportunity to stay in MotoGP for 2 more years. I just really hope the bike will be competitive. The ironic thing is that his success on the Honda Production Racer will have a lot to do with how well Ducati can sort out their problems. If the Duck continues to struggle then Nick can probably fight for 4th through 7th place. If the Duck comes good then Nick will continue to fight for 7th through 10th place just as he has for the last 5 seasons.

After 5 years of hoping that Ducati would sort their issues, now I am hoping they don’t! LOL

Total votes: 40

Ideally Hayden would team with another experienced rider that can produce excellent data. This would accelerate set-up and development of the new bike. Personally I would love to see that rider be, Colin Edwards. If the other rider cannot produce the pace of the bikes potential, then set-up will suffer.

Total votes: 33

I'd personally like to see him kicking ass in WSBK instead of being a grid filler in MGP.

Total votes: 36

With Casey deciding that he doesn't want to race cars next year, he'll be free to do more testing for Honda, which is a gig he seems to enjoy and which Honda value.

Total votes: 42

... what I hoped would happen. Well, at least since the Aprilia situation has been completely upended. Now it's a matter of the spec software being up to snuff so those teams can utilize the extra 4 liters and give the factory bikes something to worry about... I hope.

Total votes: 36

needs to take a chance on a young bloke who'll toss the Honda around in the manner of Marquez. They should have enough fuel to be able to wring it's neck to overcome bland electronics. I suspect Nicky's days of doing that may be past him, until he gets back to the dirt. He may prove a steadying influence to a team mate, and maybe the bike will need to be developed by someone like him, although if Stoner has any say, he'll want it to be less controlled and more throwable. Maybe I'm dreaming, but wouldn't we love to see a return to that? I would.
Cheers
Barry

Total votes: 36

I'd like to think that the production bikes will be closer to the sattelite bikes but I doubt they'll be a consistent threat. They are just not built to the same spec. A good rider might be able to close the gap a little. Extra fuel might help a bit, too. But at the end of most days, that probably won't be enough.

I'm sure Honda is looking towards the day the prototypes are gone. This bike will be developed for that eventuality. The one real positive I see is that apparently Honda wants Hayden and Aspar to win the open class so they'll likely get updates first and a bit more factory support. Redding might have a similar deal.

I'd love to see them both mixing it up with the prototypes every now and then and pulling a few surprises. Fingers crossed.

Total votes: 33

I'm hoping this is the begining of going back to the days when Telefónica Movistar Honda, Camel Pramac Pons Honda, Fortuna Yamaha Team and the Gauloises Yamaha Team were all dicing with the factory Repsol bikes at the front. Although, as long as Nicky is finishing in front of the Ducatis and primarily Crashlow I'll be happy.

Total votes: 41

The days you mention involved more or less identical machinery, the RCV is at a fundamentally lower spec than the RC213V. We can hope that they will be more competitive than the lesser CRTs have been, but there's little to suggest they'll be troubling the factory bikes - especially the hondas.

Total votes: 40

POWER ELECTRONICS will still be the sponsor?
any information?

Total votes: 28

The word was they were leaving. I suspect Martinez is just fulfilling obligations by using the PE name until the sponsorship agreement officially ends.

Unless PE has been pulled back in due to the Hayden signing. There hasn't been any report of that that I know of, though.

It has been reported that Red Bull, amongst others, will be a sponsor. I'm sure American Honda/Honda will be prominent as they've provided a big chunk of change.

Total votes: 27

+1

And I believe if Redbull jumps in, they will want their logo to be predominant in the bike and "Power Electronics" logo will be shrinked to "PE".

Total votes: 38

Hayden's personal sponsors no doubt helped out a bit too, he's one of the few who keeps up with all of the PR events without complaint. Watch his twitter stream for the number of tweets, promos and fan support he gets

Total votes: 36

With Aspar now having probably significantly faster package than NGM and he lost this years bonus and next years salary was the move worthwhile for him?

Total votes: 43