Hayden joins Ducati for 2009

Monday, 15 September 2008

Nicky Hayden has been confirmed as Ducati factory rider for next season, in a deal announced on Monday.

2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden has been officially announced as a Ducati rider for next season, joining current titlist Casey Stoner in the Italian manufacturer´s star-studded factory team lineup.

The announcement follows Hayden´s first podium of 2008, taken at last Sunday´s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.

`We are really happy to have Nicky join us,´ declared Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Corse CEO and Ducati Motor Holding Product Director. `We are certain that his never-say-die attitude, riding style and character will be great additions to our team in 2009.´

The `Kentucky Kid´ will have his first chance to ride the Desmosedici GP9 after the final race of the season at Valencia, the scene of his 2006 title triumph. He has received special clearance from HRC to make the seamless switch. Domenicali thanked the Honda and outgoing Ducati rider Marco Melandri in the short statement

` I would like to thank HRC for allowing Nicky to start testing our bike immediately after the Valencia Grand Prix. I would also like to thank Marco Melandri for his professionalism during a difficult year, which was below all our expectations. Unfortunately his feeling with the Desmosedici was never good enough to allow him to ride as well as he can. We wish him all the best for the future.´

Hayden joins the squad after a long association with Honda, for whom he picked up titles in AMA Superbike and 990cc MotoGP competition. The Japanese factory issued a press release confirming Hayden´s departure, in which both parties expressed their gratitude for their time together. Like Ducati´s acknowledgement of Melandri´s tough time with their 800cc bike, Honda also made mention of Hayden´s own difficulties with the RC212V.

`We wish to thank Nicky for all he has achieved for Honda both as a rider and a man. Nicky and Honda have shared much success and a few disappointing days but in each case Nicky has always behaved cheerfully and has led the team in a positive way. His warm-hearted character has been much loved by all who have worked with him,´ stated HRC president Masumi Hamane.

`Nicky raced the 990cc RC211V with great success but since the technical regulations reduced MotoGP engine capacity to 800cc, both Nicky and HRC have tried our best but we have been unable to find the best balance between rider and machine necessary for Nicky to show his full potential, so we have decided to part company at the end of the season.

`We want to thank Nicky who always tried positively under tough conditions. We respect him for his brave challenging spirit. We wish Nicky good luck for the future with his new challenge. Nicky is a good guy loved by all, but also he is a tough competitor and I am sure he will be tough to beat next season.´

Hayden himself singled out Honda for praise, although he would not talk about the 2009 season just yet with four more races to go in the current campaign.

`(My time with Honda) It´s something I´ve enjoyed a lot. I want to thank everybody there, all the guys from tyre technicians to crew chiefs and all the way up. Sure, it hasn´t just been one big holiday, along the way there´s been some tough days but a lot of good days too,´ said the American.

`I´d just like to thank everyone, and the best way to thank them is to put up some results these last few races. That´s the plan.´

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