Hayden in 2003



Honda Blinked First And Hayden Will Team With Rossi In MotoGP

By: Dennis Noyes

Bustarviejo, Spain, September 14

Nicky Hayden will most likely team with Valentino Rossi in MotoGP next season (Photo: Brian J. Nelson)

International Racers, aka “the Evil Empire” took Honda HRC to the brink and it was Honda who blinked first.

This is how it was: American Honda did not want Nicky Hayden to leave the AMA Championship. The whole purpose of the effort and expense of winning a national title is capitalizing on it by having the Champion carry the number 1 plate around the country the next year.

The problem was that that Nicky Hayden’s contract ran out at the end of the AMA season and Yamaha made a solid offer to him to team up with Carlos Checa riding an M1 in MotoGP. Apparently Yamaha’s offer was for less money that American Honda was paying, but it was in the World Championship arena.

At 21 Nicky and his management knew that it was time to move on. In the first place everyone with a measurable forehead knows that most of the tracks that compose the AMA Superbike schedule are very dangerous by MotoGP standards, and secondarily hanging around to defend the USA Number One plate is not a very good idea when the attention of the road racing world is now clearly directed at MotoGP.

No one in their right mind leaves HRC if they can avoid it, but Nicky and his management at “the Evil Empire” also knew that Honda have a problem and that problem is Valentino Rossi. Rossi has told his intimate circle that he is oppressed by the HRC yoke and longs for the carefree days at Aprilia, but every time he passes the overweight and ungainly Aprilia triple he realizes that “it’s cold outside of Honda.”

Rossi will be looking at any offers he receives at the end of 2003 and Honda does not want to be in a position of having to give into Rossi’s demands again. They want the man who wins the World Championship on a Honda to carry a number 1. Number 1 means Honda. Number 46 means Rossi.

Thus Honda prepare for the future by fitting out Daijiro Kato (who is totally useless in the rain but otherwise brilliant) with a works RC211V four stroke half way through the season and letting Rossi know that Kato will get the new bits first.

But HRC have nurtured Hayden and brought him on. Hayden in the USA rode an RC51 Honda that, except for tires, was nearly identical to Edwards works Castrol Honda.

HRC would have liked to have bought Hayden into MotoGP in 2003, but they also respected American Honda’s wishes and were prepared to see Hayden do one more year in the States and then put him on a works Honda in MotoGP in 2003.

Yamaha, however, have also followed Hayden’s progress and, in their search for the new Rainey, they saw in the Kentuckian a rider capable of riding around problems and winning even against the august might of HRC.

HRC, at first, refused to believe that Hayden would really leave and thus the countdown began. Honda held right of first refusal and were aware of what they were up against.

Finally, realizing that Hayden was within hours of announcing a deal with Yamaha, Honda blinked and gave in.

Hayden will ride as Rossi’s team mate in 2003. Conditions of the deal, which will be for two or three years, have not yet been announced, but the deal is done. Hayden will be assigned to one of the two works Honda teams, either the (currently) Repsol HRC team or the Gresini team which is probably going to be sponsored by Telefónica Movistar. Since Telefónica plan to bring Sete Gibernau over from Suzuki to team with Kato it seems likely that Hayden will ride as Rossi´s team mate. It is also possible that Honda have found a sponsor other that Telefónica for the Gresini team (Camel?) and will slot Hayden in there.

So is the Ducati deal with Loris Capirossi, but it now seems that the Ducati Desmosedici machines will be run in L & M trim instead of Marlboro as Philip Morris seeks to promote their second brand, especially in Italy.

And, who will actually team with Capirossi. Troy Bayliss is said to be dubious about the chances of the Desmosedici. Perhaps it will be Colin Edwards who finally gets his Grand Prix Shot. Maybe the winner in Imola will chose.
Hayden rocks and will be sadly missed on the AMA circuit!

Its hard for me to get into the WGP circuit........the names and bikes and all are just so unfamiliar to me.

The racing in AMA seems so much better and closer to me!!!

Gotta luv AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
yeah he will be missed :( I wish I could see him race again.

And you are right about the competition in the AMA compared to motoGP. AMA bikes are almost stock bikes you can buy off the shelf, makes for good racing. While motoGP is the F1 of bikes, engines that rev to 18000+, traction control, money, money money. MotoGP is the place to be and next year its going to have better riders than ever:) Its all good! :D
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