Following Friday practice for the Australian MotoGP, Nicky Hayden spoke about signing to ride for Aspar next season, on the new Honda Production Racer.
Hayden had been linked with numerous projects, in both MotoGP and WSBK, since the July announcement that he would leave Ducati's factory team.
Aspar soon emerged as a favourite, but on Aprilia rather than Honda machinery.
Gigi Dall'Igna's surprise switch from racing boss of Aprilia to Ducati changed those plans and the Aspar-Honda-Hayden deal was announced on Thursday at Phillip Island.
“I'm looking forward to next year with Team Aspar and the Production Honda,” began Hayden. “This last month has seen a lot of different possibilities - Aprilia, Superbikes - but I'm happy with the position I'm in and the bike.”
Asked for the strong points of the deal from his perspective, Hayden replied: “Well mainly just a Honda. It's already on track. They ran it with no problems and its already on the dyno with the new electronics. Chassis wise it's very similar to the factory Hondas, mainly it's just the gearbox and valves [that are different].
“Test riders have ridden it, but really I gotta ride it myself to see what the real potential is. Honda wants to make the project work. The first year might be tough at the beginning, but in the long run this [kind of bike] could be what everyone is on.”
As a privateer machine the Honda will be eligible for four extra litres of race fuel, twelve rather than five engine changes, plus a softer specification rear tyre relative to the factory bikes, which will keep their own ECU software.
“I'm not sure if the extra fuel will help us, Honda say they don't need the whole 24 litres,” said Hayden. “We know that some tracks top speed will be a disadvantage to us, but we've got a couple of cards to play with the extra fuel, extra engines and soft tyres.”
Hayden was a factory Honda MotoGP rider from 2003 to 2008, before joining Ducati, claiming the 2006 MotoGP title while riding for the official Repsol team.