Nicky Hayden Renews With Ducati for 2010

What was expected at Indianapolis appears to have been delayed a week to Misano. MotoGP's silly season, blocked for so long by Jorge Lorenzo, is starting to move again, with a spate of riders slotting into place for next season. The biggest (official) news so far is that Ducati have decided to exercise the option they have on American rider Nicky Hayden, extending his contract for another year through the 2010 season. Hayden's contract is a reward for the solid progress the Kentucky Kid has made throughout the season, gradually overcoming the difficult start the American made at the start of the year. That progress reached a provisional peak last week, when Hayden finished in 3rd place at Indianapolis, his first podium in a year, and his first on the Ducati.

Hayden has also been a huge marketing success for the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. The likable American helped sell out the limited edition Ducati 848s with Hayden's 2009 Laguna Seca livery almost immediately after release, and Hayden's face adorns the walls of Ducati dealerships around the world, but especially in the US, a key market for Ducati.

But there's another reason for the Ducati announcement. Spanish media sources are reporting that Dani Pedrosa has renewed his contract with the Repsol Honda team (see separate story), taking the last of the Fantastic Four off the market, and leaving Ducati with just the "humans" to select from. Hayden has repeated proven himself to be among the best of the rest, and with a string of solid results in recent races, he will help Ducati score valuable points in the manufacturers standings, a championship that has always been important to the Borgo Panigale factory.

With Hayden confirmed at Ducati, all of the factory seats are now filled except for Honda. Andrea Dovizioso has told the press that he is very close to signing a new deal with the squad for next season, and with Hayden now back at Ducati, Pedrosa has nowhere left to go but Repsol Honda.

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I really want him to do well, but if he doesn't, 3 sub-par years for an x-champion won't land a good ride in 2011.
On the flip side, if he is consistently in the top 5ish on race day, it will be "The Come-back Kid" not the "Kentucky Kid",, but then again, a lot depends on the next version of the Desmo-bulldog

Everyone likes a happy ending.

[Hayden has repeated(ly) proven himself to be among the best of the rest,...]

Perhaps a slight exaggeration; as I showed, before the Indianapolis race Vermeulen had outperformed Hayden on the track since Hayden won the title in 2006, and that on Suzukis, which I think most people would concede were and are inferior machines. Do you really want to say that a rider whose racing results since 2007 have been inferior to Vermeulen's is "among the best of the rest"?

But congratulations to Hayden, whose recent performances have definitely improved. Obviously he podiumed in Indianapolis because Pedrosa and Rossi crashed (if the race had gone on for a while longer he may have seen Pedrosa right behind him), but that's happened to other riders this year too, so maybe it was his turn. I think Ducati signed him partly because he is easy to market, and they are apparently doing OK with that. By all accounts he and Stoner get along well too.

Hopefully he will help make the rest of the season even more interesting. I'm still looking forward to Stoner's return, though.

Good to know that hard work will pay off in the end. I think Duc has a serious winner here even if Hayden isnt the 2010 WC. He is good guy that does the promotion ciruit and does it well and without compalints. Ladies love them some Nicky.

Duc gets lots of North American promotion and the factory gets someone who puts his head down and tries to fix the problem with the bike. Having 2 bikes in the top 10 is better than having 1 in in the top 3 and 1 at the bottom IMO. Makes the sell to future riders easier in that our bike just needs a little more tweeking from you. Instead of oh Capi, Hayden and Melandri couldnt figure it out... What chance do I have? No thanks Ill go to WSBK instead.