Fresh from his first Ducati podium last weekend at Indianapolis, Ducati has announced that Nicky Hayden will sign a one-year extension to his current contract and remain alongside Casey Stoner in its factory team for the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.
After six years, three wins, 25 podiums and a world championship with Repsol Honda, Hayden moved to Ducati this season on a two-year contract, with the second-year 'option' to be decided by Ducati in early September.
The American began the year badly with a big accident in qualifying at Qatar and was then taken out on lap one at Motegi, leaving him with a best race finish of twelfth after five rounds.
But just as he was being pigeon-holed as the latest high-profile rider to be flummoxed by the Desmosedici, Hayden began making steady progress up the order - helped by a new crew chief at round five and set-up progress soon after.
Hayden has finished in the top eight at the last six rounds, with the exception of the Donington Park rain gamble, culminating in third place last weekend at Indianapolis.
Crucially, in terms of his Ducati future, that made Hayden the only Desmosedici rider other than Stoner to stand on the rostrum this season, and he has also outpaced Mika Kallio during the Finn's two rounds as a replacement for Stoner.
But that's not to say that Hayden's ride hasn't been seriously under threat. Ducati pushed hard to tempt Jorge Lorenzo from Yamaha and were then in contact with Dani Pedrosa.
Nevertheless, on the eve of the factory's second home of the season, at Misano this weekend, Ducati announced that it will take up its option on Hayden for 2010.
“The confirmation of Nicky is the right reward to a rider who has shown to perfectly embody the frame of mind that characterises Ducati - Passion, Determination and Commitment.” said Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding general manager.