MotoGP: Hayden faces tough decision for 2016 and beyond
American rider Nicky Hayden admits he has very likely competed in his last MotoGP race on home soil.
Hayden, 34, is at a career crossroads, facing an uncertain future of either switching to World Superbikes, or staying at home next year.
Hayden, born and raised in Kentucky, rose from a grassroots dirt track master, to a MotoGP world champion when he won the top prize with Honda in 2006.
But, time is running out for Hayden, with only five MotoGP races remaining in the 2015 season before he leaves the Aspar Honda team in November.
Hayden will make his 212th start in Sunday’s MotoGP of Spain at the MotorLand Aragon circuit.
Hayden has confirmed there are "not really" other options in MotoGP in 2016, and the Indianapolis GP earlier this year was very likely his final MotoGP race in the United States.
"Indy could well have been my final GP (in America), that is kinda how it looks," said Hayden, who finished 16th at the Brickyard. "Now, I’m speaking to some teams in World Superbikes. When I originally thought about moving to superbikes with a good factory team, I was really interested in it."
Two years ago, Hayden was offered a golden opportunity by the Ducati factory team to make the move to World Superbikes, but elected to stay in MotoGP with the satellite Aspar Honda squad.
Hayden says he "does spend a lot of time" thinking about that decision, despite the limited offers now available for top-level rides.
"But, now all the factory bikes are gone, so I need to see if I would rather stay home or ride on in World Supers on less than factory bike," said Hayden. "I’ll see what opportunities come up. But, things can change quickly, even over the last couple of weeks some things have come up."
But, without a full-time MotoGP contract, Hayden would have to rely on the slim chance of a wild card offer in sufficient time for the Grand Prix of the Americas at Circuit of The Americas in 2016.
"But, I like world superbikes and have always been a fan going back to when Scott Russell was racing there," Hayden said.
"As a kid, I liked watching Scott, and there was a time in America when people followed that more than GP. There wasn’t a GP in America, and Laguna Seca had the World Supers race."
Hayden says the remote chance of being a MotoGP test rider, or switching to the domestic Moto America series, does not hold huge appeal and staying home is a real possibility.
"Yes, it is getting to that point, but it is not my first choice because I still enjoy racing and even a bad day here a lot of people would be happy to take as a job," Hayden said.
"But, if there are no real opportunities, then I’ll think about that option. I haven’t really talked to anybody in Moto America, and that is something that does not sound real exciting. I would rather do some testing in MotoGP."