Ever since the announcement of Gigi Dall’Igna’s move to Ducati, the MotoGP future of Nicky Hayden has been constantly in flux. But that activity has reached a fever pitch recently because of Aprilia’s desire to keep the Aspar team – and Hayden – in their fold next year.
Meetings, meetings and more meetings have happened in the last days and hours. Hayden hasn’t been present in all of them, but Jorge Martínez, manager of the Aspar team, has been at the epicenter of all of those meetings.
As written some days ago here in Sport Rider, there were three options on the table: Aprilia, Ducati and Honda. The first one initially had guaranteed factory support – until Dall’Igna’s move. The second now is likely to offer factory support as well, since Dall’Igna will be in control of the Ducati Corse. The third will be a “non-MSMA” entry without factory support. By now these options have been reduced to two: Aprilia and Honda.
Very disappointed by how he has been treated by the Bologna factory management – Hayden was often the more consistent and often higher-scoring teammate of Rossi and Dovisioso, and his unrivaled work ethic endeared him to the team, especially now-disposed technical director Filippo Preziosi – the American has politely discarded the Ducati offer. The decision was basically something very much like: No thank you, I’ve had enough.
With that option out of the way, the choice was almost clear: it would be Honda. Honda Japan and its America Honda subsidiary have been pushing strongly to have Hayden back with them. The Japanese would like to have him win the non-MSMA category – which by the way, will soon be announced by Dorna as the new “Open Class” – and American Honda knows Hayden still has a very strong fan base in the USA, and still have a good connection with him. At least this was the situation Sunday in Malaysia…
After having lost its lead engineer in charge of its racing department, Aprilia moved its pieces quickly. The company announced Dall’Igna’s replacement – Romano Albesiano – at the same time as Dall’Igna’s move to Ducati, and Aprilia swiftly flew Albesiano from Italy to Malaysia with one mission in his briefcase: to convince Nicky Hayden and Jorge Martínez Aspar to stick with the previous plan of being Aprilia’s number 1 team in MotoGP in 2014.
Their first meeting happened yesterday evening after the GP. More meetings occurred yesterday morning in Kuala Lumpur, and many have already taken place today. Aprilia pushes on one side, Honda on the other and the rider and team use their position to increase their demands…the technical ones, and very likely the economical ones as well.
The very latest news we have is that in one or two days the decision will be taken and that the official announcement – that Jorge Martinez will switch from Aprilia to the Honda Production Racer – will be stated next weekend in Phillip Island at the Australian GP. Stay tuned.