By now, the only MotoGP fans who might have missed the fact that Nicky Hayden is likely to sign for Ducati for next year can only have been stuck in the depths of the Amazon jungle for the past 6 months. But the chasm that yawns between the probable and the actual remains as wide as ever, and until the official announcement is made, the deal cannot be taken as done.
An interview with Ducati team boss Livio Suppo over on Speed TV appears to bring the probable more firmly into the realm of the real. Suppo spoke of his admiration for Hayden, and especially the American's attitude to racing. Suppo was particularly impressed by the American's maturity and consistency, and believes that Hayden would be an excellent team mate for Casey Stoner. Suppo told Speed's Colin Young that Ducati expected to announce their plans at the end of the month, which means that an announcement will probably be made at the Misano MotoGP round, just a few miles from Ducati's home base in Bologna.
Suppo's take on the satellite Pramac team was even more interesting. The Ducati supremo admitted that the team had made an offer to both Marco Simoncelli and to Mika Kallio to join the satellite team, but said that Simoncelli seems to be more interested in staying in the 250s for another year. But Ducati is unlikely to sign both men, as one place is likely to be kept open for the current test rider, Niccolo Canepa. The young Italian rider has been very impressive in testing, usually finishing ahead of Marco Melandri and the other Pramac riders.
Suppo told Speed that the two-day test after the Brno race would be used by Ducati to compare Canepa to the rest of the MotoGP field. Canepa finished ahead of several MotoGP regulars on both days, but whether 7th and 11th is good enough remains to be seen. Canepa has also been linked to Ducati's factory World Superbike squad, another bike he's been impressively fast on.