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Old 10-05-2015, 11:50 PM   #1
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Nicky Hayden to WSBK...Aprilia or Honda?

Former 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden has offers from Aprilia and Honda for the World Superbike Championship, but while he's waiting for more confirmation of the former's intentions, the latter's contract offer will expire very soon.

The name of Nicky Hayden has been bouncing around the World Superbike paddock for quite a while, basically ever since he was spotted in Laguna Seca for the U.S. round in July. The American has been in contact with several teams, but arguably only considered Aprilia and Honda as viable options. Recently, however, the latter has gained a significant advantage in the chase to secure the services of the former 2006 MotoGP World Champion.

Sources close to the rider and the team confirmed that detailed negotiations took place throughout last weekend—while WSBK’s second-to-last round unfolded in Magny Cours—and the two parties apparently reached a verbal agreement over a two-year contract with mutual rescissory clauses. Reportedly, Hayden would thus have a year to adjust to the new technical specs—steel brakes and Pirelli tires, mostly—before leading first-hand the launch of a new CBR sportbike whose goal is to turn around Honda's fortunes in the production-based series. To this end, the Japanese manufacturer arguably has the necessary resources and technology, and according to insiders has already developed the model that will replace the old CBR 1000 RR, but evidently marketing concerns put the project on hold.

Honda's offer to Hayden, however, came with an imminent expiration date. Meanwhile, the American has tried to gauge Aprilia's intentions. The Italian manufacturer was reportedly his first option, but it hasn't made any concrete plans for WSBK in 2016. MotoGP (and now WSBK) championship promoter Dorna has been working behind the scenes to move the Abraham team from MotoGP to WSBK and put Brno (a circuit owned by Mr. Abraham) on the WSBK calendar while taking it out of MotoGP in order to make room for new GP locations. No agreement has been reached yet, but meanwhile sources inside Noale confirmed that the technical development of the RSV4 has continued, with positive results both in terms of engine and electronics. However, since the first winter tests will take place in mid November, time is quickly running out. Last year, Aprilia was set to pull out of WSBK entirely but abruptly changed its mind in late December…hence Hayden's reported preference for more assurance that it will be a stable, long-term prospect. The tentative deadline for the final agreement to be signed is set before the Motegi's MotoGP round. More info as soon as we get it.

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