PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN, AUG. 18 - Nicky Hayden will start his home race this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a motorcycle he hopes will be good enough to fight with the second group. He also starts his home race in the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix with renewed enthusiasm for his prospects of landing a good ride in 2014.
Hayden, who lost his Ducati deal for next year, has been hearing from World Superbike teams regarding next year. And there’s also talks with the LCR team in MotoGP that would see Hayden added to the team that features Stefan Bradl, though Hayden would ride one of the new production Hondas if that deal materializes.
But no matter how you slice it, the phone has been ringing and that’s a good thing.
“Nothing’s changed in a matter of a couple of days, but there are a couple of things moving that could be interesting,” Hayden said at IMS. “With some rule changes in [World] Superbike, we know it’s an option. But also with some of the bikes, which is going to be the most competitive. Here [MotoGP] we don’t really know these production bikes yet. I do think it would probably be a production bike, but with extra fuel, more engine, softer tires… we don’t know just how competitive it’s going to be.”
The LCR offer could be the most intriguing, but like everything else it will likely come down to money.
“There is definitely some discussion there, but we’ve got a ways to go and somebody still has to come up with some money,” Hayden said. “All these bikes and teams… it’s not cheap just to create a spot for someone.”
It’s known that Honda has expressed interest in Hayden for their Pata World Superbike team, but the Hayden clan worries that the CBR1000RR isn’t competitive enough to give him a shot at a World Superbike title.
“After these few years… it’s not like I have any factory bikes lining up, but I have a lot of people wanting me to get something,” Hayden said. “I’ll definitely get something, but it’s a matter of getting on something good. But it’s nice to see the phone ring, especially after these last few years. People have a small memory and they forget quick. If you’re mid-pack you get lost quick, so it’s good to have some things moving and a lot of sponsors that do want to help me. We’ll see if we can do something.”
As for today’s race, Hayden has a positive outlook after qualifying sixth.
“I need to improve the race pace for sure – especially with tire wear,” Hayden said after final qualifying yesterday. “Right now with the soft [tire] we have a big drop. The race isn’t until tomorrow at 2 so we have a little bit of time. Are we going to come in and fight with [Marc] Marquez? We know at the moment that’s not a reality, but we’re close to that second group and it would be nice to mix it up with those guys and not the CRTs, which we’ve been doing at the last few races. I believe we can have a positive race so we will see.”