By Stephen English
Nicky Hayden's future continues to be the centre of speculation in Misano, with MotoGP options on the table from both Forward Racing (Yamaha) and Aspar Aprilia as well as WSBK offers.
The former world champion has made clear that his goal is to remain in MotoGP and, while he is not ready to announce a deal for 2014, speaking after Sunday's San Marino race Hayden dropped his biggest hint yet that a move to Aprilia could be on the cards.
"I have a couple of options in MotoGP. It's not a done deal with Aprilia but I went there last week and I was really impressed by what I saw,” said Hayden. “I met with Aspar and their guys and I really liked their professionalism and how focused they are on racing. They've got a good thing going so we'll see what happens."
Meanwhile, with the MotoGP field remaining at Misano for a test on Monday, Hayden had expected to be riding the new Ducati chassis - as used by team-mate Andrea Dovizioso in recent races. But on Thursday, Ducati team management told Hayden that this was no longer possible due to a "lack of materials."
Hayden was clearly frustrated to no longer have the opportunity to try the new bike, having been led to believe that he would ride the machine even though he is leaving the team at the end of the season.
"We're going to test tomorrow but it's frustrating because I was told all along that I'd be testing the new bike but now that's not happening,” he said. “I'm not sure [what happened] but they say that they don't have the materials. It's a little touchy because all along I'd been led to believe that I would test it but then I found out on Thursday that they don't have the parts. I'm not convinced it's a lot better but I would have liked to have tried it."
Hayden rode to ninth place in Sunday's race, one place and two-seconds behind Dovizioso, during what was his last grand prix on Italian asphalt for Ducati.
"Today was extremely tough," said Hayden. "I got a terrible start which was my fault. Espargaro went so early and I saw it out of the corner of my eye and I was distracted a little bit when the light went off and I made a terrible start. I was able to make up a couple of positions in the first couple of corners and even got past Dovi but I couldn't put any gap to him.
“He came past me about lap ten and I just tried to see where I could learn something from him but on about lap 20 I ran wide braking on the back straight and had to pick it up and lost a couple of seconds and I was never able to bring the gap back to Dovi. We had hoped to be closer this weekend, it's a tough one but there's still five to go."