The Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden‘s signing with Jorge Martinez’s Team Aspar is now official, with the Spanish team finally confirming news many MotoGP followers were long expecting. Also expected was the announcement that Hayden will compete in the 2014 MotoGP Championship on Honda‘s new production racer (unofficially known as the RCV1000R.)
“Thanks to everybody who helped make this happen & my fans still behind me. Looking forward to the future. #Grateful” tweeted Hayden.
Team Aspar has been competing in the MotoGP class for four seasons, the last two as a Claiming Rule Team, with Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet riding on Aprilia‘s ART GP13. Last year, Espargaro led all CRT racers by finishing 12th overall, followed immediately by de Puniet. With three rounds remaining in the 2013 MotoGP championship, Espargaro again leads the CRT category, sitting 11th ahead of the Desmosedici prototypes of the Pramac Ducati team.
The CRT category will be replaced next year with a new class of production racers, Aspar is making the switch to Honda’s RC212V-based machine.
“It is great news for the Power Electronics Aspar Team to have the acquired services of Honda and a rider of the profile of Nicky Hayden,” says Martinez. “We are taking a huge step forward in terms of quality, prestige and image. We have grown a lot in a short space of time and we are all very excited about this new project with Honda. It is the factory that the Aspar Team first started with back in 1992 and I have great memories of that period.”
The announcement reunites Hayden with Honda, with whom he won the 2006 MotoGP Championship. Hayden left Honda for Ducati’s factory team in 2009 but has yet to match the success he found with HRC. Hayden’s contract is for two years, carrying him through to the 2015 season. It remains to be seen how competitive the production racers will be against the full prototypes such as the Honda RC213V or the Yamaha M1, but the very least, Martinez says he hopes the team continues to be reference point in the class, just as it is for the CRT era.
“Our objective is to continue being a reference point in the premier-class. I think the combination of Honda’s MotoGP Production Racer and Nicky Hayden is going to be a very successful one,” says Martinez. “We are thrilled to be working with a manufacturer with the history that Honda has and a rider like Nicky, a World Champion with huge experience. It will be a big change for us after so many years working with Italian factories but we have high hopes for this new project.”
[Source: Team Aspar, Nicky Hayden (Twitter)]