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.

"If I had my choice I'd love to be on a factory bike next year, but unfortunately with the results that I've had I'll take what I can get," Hayden admitted. "I wanted to stay in MotoGP and I know it might take a bit of time, but I'm happy to stay here and see what we can do.

"I don't really have time for regrets and unfortunately we haven't gotten the results here at Ducati that we hoped. It's a shame because the team is great, has a lot of good things going for it, but especially this year it's gone off track. I think it's time for a change; they need a change and I need a change.

"Going back with Honda is something that I'm looking forward to, it's great after a couple of very difficult years that those guys want me back so I'm very excited and grateful for the opportunity.

"I've got three races left with Ducati and I've got a job to do. I want to push all the way to the end and steal a couple of good results."

Underlining that commitment, Hayden was the fastest Ducati rider on day one at Phillip Island, albeit in ninth place. Ducati are yet to decide if a sixth engine - which would result in a pit lane start - will be needed following the Sepang failure.

"I put in quite an old engine and used it all day," said Hayden. "Considering it's not the sharpest engine that I've got it ran OK. It's not been decided [to take a sixth engine] and we'll see how much life we can take out of this engine. At the moment we'll try and skate by without starting from pit road. Now's not an easy time for us but you can still score points but you don't really have a chance starting from pit road even to have some fun. So we'll try not to do that if it's possible."

Hayden will make his Aspar Honda debut during the post-race test at Valencia next month. Cal Crutchlow is taking Hayden's place at Ducati, alongside Andrea Dovizioso.