American bike hero Nicky Hayden is closing in on a deal to ride an Aprilia for the Spanish-based Aspar Team in next year’s MotoGP world championship.
Hayden, 32, and the 2006 world champion with Honda, is just five races away from needing his five year stint with Ducati.
The completion of the Aspar-Aprilia deal for Hayden is being slowed by complicated contractual issues surrounding Aleix Espargaro who wants to leave the Aspar team.
Espargaro has confirmed that he wants to exercise a buy-out clause in his Aspar contract and switch to Forward Racing and ride a Yamaha M1 next season.
A resolution is expected before the Malaysian GP and that is most likely when the Hayden-Aspar-Aprilia deal will be formalized.
Hayden has rejected an offer to stay with Ducati and ride a Panigale in the World Superbike Championship to stay in MotoGP.
He recently visited the Aprilia factory in Italy and has been impressed by their plans for next year with an upgraded bike.
“Yes, it’s getting pretty close but we will wait until it is official but everything is moving along smooth in that direction,” Hayden said in response to Aprilia deal.
Despite an impressive season on the CRT-class ART-Aprilia, Espargaro is now eager for a new challenge in MotoGP.
It will be an expensive deal with sources saying that Espargaro’s buy clause with the team run by Spanish hero Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez carries a 600,000 Euro price tag.
“I am motivated to change bikes and I am doing a big effort to move but it is not easy,” Espargaro said.
“Both teams are in talks, and we think we are closer but nothing is yet decided. I hope in a couple of days I will have some news.
“I feel really good with the Aspar team, and I don’t really want to leave. It is like family and a really competitive team, but I have a motivation to ride another bike.
“Sometimes you need to find motivation and I really want to change bikes.”
If the Espargaro move is confirmed, he is expected to partner with veteran American Colin Edwards at Forward Racing next year.
The bikes will be 2012 model Yamaha M1s running to the non-factory rules of 24 liters of fuel and control electronics against the factory prototypes with 20 liters and free electronics.Aleix Espargaro, Ducati, MotoGP, Nicky Hayden