Nicky Hayden Uncertain of Ducati future

July 2, 2012
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Nicky Hayden came across the checkers in sixth at the Assen TT.
NIcky Hayden’s future with Ducati is uncertain after the announcement was made that the Bologna factory offered Cal Crutchlow a two-year factory deal.

Nicky Hayden has admitted his future at Ducati is an uncertain one after the Bologna factory offered British rider Cal Crutchlow a two-year factory deal. With Ducati also stating its intention to keep nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, Hayden admitted he was unsure for who and where he would be riding in 2013 when questioned about his future at the Assen TT.

Hayden has been with Ducati’s factory squad since 2009 but he has only scored six top three-finishes and the 2006 world champion told us: “It doesn’t leave a lot of room. They (Ducati) have an option with me next year, but that expires in a couple of days. I’ve had some good talks with them at times, but other times I’m not really sure.”

Hayden said he would be gutted to lose his place at Ducati having put in so much effort and energy to try and turnaround the Bologna factory’s fortunes. Ducati hasn’t won a race or come close to challenging consistently for the podium since Casey Stoner quit to join Repsol Honda at the end of 2010.

“I believe in Ducati,” said Hayden. “I think at some point this bike is going to win because they’re working too hard. The sponsor is putting in so much that I’ve put in a lot these last five years when it struggled and it would kill me to not be here when it does finally come good. I’m sure Valentino’s the first priority. I have had a couple of other talks, but I would like to stay in MotoGP so I need some results. At the moment it’s hard to talk to anybody when all you have is some is sixth and seventh places. So I need to gas it up.”

Valentino Rossi  46  and Nicky Hayden  69  shuffled positions through the race  but it was Hayden who would finish inside the top ten.
Rossi and Hayden have been unable to maintain a fast pace over the course of an entire race this season.

After some initial positive steps in practice, Hayden encountered Ducati’s excessive tire wear again. The Ducati has been too aggressive on Bridgestone’s new soft compound rear tire and Hayden and Rossi have struggled to maintain a fast pace over an entire race distance.

“I struggled too much when the tire goes away,” said Hayden. “We have the same tires as Silverstone and the grip for one or two laps is great, but when I lose a bit of grip I have a lot of problems. Not so much for the spinning, more for the corner speed and more for getting the bike to turn. I really need the grip. I have to carry big lean angle to make the bike turn and when it goes away I struggle too much. So on one hand it’s positive to be fast, but I have to be more consistent if I want to do a good race.”

Ducati Making Little Progress

Ducati is no closer to challenging Honda and Yamaha than it was at the start of the new 1000cc era, according to Hayden. The Bologna factory has only scored one rostrum in the opening six races when Valentino Rossi needed wet conditions at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans to claim second position behind Jorge Lorenzo.

Rossi hasn’t yet scored a top six finish in dry conditions while Hayden’s best result was a sixth place result in the season’s opening race in Qatar and most recently at Assen. Hayden said despite its best efforts, Ducati had enjoyed little success in bridging the performance gap to Japanese rivals Honda and Yamaha.

The 2006 world champion said prior to the Assen race: “It has not just been a real easy season but that’s how they go. Every now and then we get some momentum and feel like we are making some gains but these guys aren’t sitting still. We go away and test and learn a couple of things but everybody is improving and truthfully the gap now is pretty similar to what it was at the start of the season.”

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