The switch back to 1000cc engines in MotoGP could open the grand prix door for the pack of young British stars currently making waves in the World Superbike Championship.

That's the opinion of 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden who, along with 2010 title leader Jorge Lorenzo, has been impressed by several of the leading WSBK Brits this season.

With James Toseland moving back to World Superbike, the UK is without any representation on the 2010 MotoGP grid.

In complete contrast, half of the present WSBK top ten contains British riders under the age of 30, with Leon Haslam (27) holding second in the championship for Suzuki, Jonathan Rea (23) fourth for Honda, Toseland (29) seventh for Yamaha, Leon Camier (23) ninth for Aprilia and Cal Crutchlow (24) tenth for Yamaha.

The trouble in terms of transferring that success into a MotoGP seat is that only three of the present 17 riders are from a Superbike, rather than 250cc, background: Hayden and fellow Americans Ben Spies and Colin Edwards.

Reigning WSBK champion Spies has already taken a podium finish this year and looks set to be a future MotoGP star, but at present Hayden is the only one of the trio to have won a grand prix.

Hayden's three race wins all came while riding one of the previous 990cc motorcycles, which had more in common with SBK than the heavily electronic-dependent and easily 'upset' 800s.

As such, the Ducati Marlboro star advises any WSBK Brits with MotoGP ambitions to wait until the end of the 800cc era, which is due to conclude in 2011.

"There are fast Brits in the world. Toseland was so close to breaking through and establishing himself in MotoGP - and in World Superbike there are some Brits 'doing it'," began Hayden.

"I think Superbike is not the best breeding ground for MotoGP at the moment," he warned. "It's still possible to come through Superbike, but 125 and then Moto2 is the best option.

"But I think going back to 1000cc will help the transition from Superbike to MotoGP - depending on what they do with the electronics.

"If they limit the electronics, then Superbike will be a great path to MotoGP and that's why I think we'll see some Brits back here soon, which would be good.

"This series needs at least one."

Lorenzo agreed: "Dorna are a Spanish brand but I think they don't like it that we have so many Spanish [5] and Italian [5] riders in MotoGP. I think they are working to have riders from all around the world.

"It is not easy, because in Spain we have a lot of championships when you are a kid and in other countries you don't have those possibilities, so it's more difficult for the child to improve their riding. That's why we have more MotoGP riders."

Speaking separately, Hayden raised a similar point.

"I don't know how it is in Britain, but one thing that is hurting Americans is that in Europe, and especially Spain, they can start so young," he said. "In America you can't even start racing at a decent level until you're 16. For a 125GP, 16 is too late."

The UK has teenagers Bradley Smith (19), Scott Redding (17) and Danny Webb (19) competing in the 125 and Moto2 classes, but they look to be at further away from a place in the premier-class than some of the WSBK Brits.

Indeed, when Fiat Yamaha needed a replacement for the injured Valentino Rossi, it was Crutchlow who was offered the ride, while Haslam - like Toseland - already has premier-class experience, having raced in 500cc as a privateer in 2001.

So which of the WSBK Brits have caught the eye of Hayden, whose younger brother Roger Lee races in the series?

"I rate Haslam," said the #69. "I gotta say I was surprised by him this year. I didn't except that from him. He's been so solid. I like a guy who is solid week-in, week-out and Haslam has pretty much, apart from a few problems, found a way to be right there on every Sunday.

"But there's plenty of Brits up front in Superbike.

"My little brother likes Cal. He said on track he's probably the coolest. I don't know him that well, although I did meet him at Monza. If Rog likes him, I like him!"

Lorenzo picked out the same riders.

"For sure I would like it if James [Toseland], Crutchlow, and Haslam can come to MotoGP," said the Fiat Yamaha rider.

Crutchlow ultimately turned down the chance to make his MotoGP debut this season, alongside Lorenzo, due to the absence of any testing and a hectic race schedule.

Hayden, commenting generally on the difficulty of making a mid-season MotoGP appearance, backed the reigning World Supersport champion's decision.

"The way MotoGP is and the level it's at, you can't just bring a new guy in and expect him to run around in the top five like in Superbike," he explained.

"Unless the guy has been on these bikes and tyres before, he'd run around at the back and that's worse than anything."


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