Nicky Hayden has signed with the Spanish-based Aspar team to ride a Honda in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship. The deal confirms that Aspar has switched to Honda’s production RCV1000R machine from Aprilia.
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Hayden won the 2006 World Championship riding for the factory Repsol Honda team.
Aspar boss Jorge Martinez confirmed the deal on Thursday in advance of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. It is understood the Aspar-Hayden-Honda will have the backing of Honda USA.
“It is true that I have always been a Honda guy and I’ve always had a great relationship with Honda US,” Hayden said. “I grew up and everybody knows my idol was Bubba Shobert, and I had some good results at Honda.
“It is special to be going back but also special that Honda wanted me to go back after five years.”
The decision to purchase the Honda RCV1000R came quickly after the shocking defection of Aprilia guru Gigi Dall’Igna to Italian rivals Ducati. Aspar had hoped to race an all-new Aprilia next with a pneumatic valve engine and seamless shift gearbox, but the project is now uncertain with Dall’Igna’s departure. The Aprilia-Aspar-Hayden had looked certain to go ahead with Hayden visiting the Aprilia factory last month.
“I’d already told my sisters I was riding for Aprilia, because they don’t like reading it on the internet,” Hayden said.
“Nothing was signed but it looked very close to being that way. Things can change quick and here I am going back to Honda, and I am happy about that.
“I was still open to the Aprilia thing and I wanted to see how much commitment they had.”
Hayden leaves Ducati at the end of this season and has rejected offers for the World SBK championship in order to stay in MotoGP even on a production Honda which may not be capable of winning races against the factory prototypes.
“Aprilia have got great plans and I hope they can stay in this championship and be competitive because it would be nice to have another manufacturer battling to be at the front,” Hayden said.
“But with the Honda deal, the bike is ready and I just got to turn up and ride it in Valencia. And the chance of going back to Honda meant there were too many good things not to go with it.”
No second rider has yet been named for the Aspar-Honda team, although it looks certain to go to former 250GP world champion Hiroshi Aoyama, thus keeping a Japanese presence in the championship.
Honda has now sold four of the five RCV1000Rs which were made available for 2014.Australian GP, Honda, MotoGP, Nicky Hayden