As rumours regarding Nicky Hayden's future intensify, the last American MotoGP title winner rated his chances of switching to World Superbike next season as 'fifty-fifty'.
The Kentucky rider admitted he has been talking to World Superbike teams about the possibility of a move to the production-based championship after two fruitless seasons on an Open class MotoGP machine.
With the recent announcement that Ducati will retain Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano in their ranks for 2016, and Aprilia's plans for the series far from certain, Hayden is rumoured to be speaking with Honda about the possibility of teaming up with Michael van der Mark in the Ten Kate squad.
“I can't say that we're a lot closer for next year,” said Hayden after placing 22nd in Friday afternoon's MotoGP session at Aragon. “I've said all along that I'm talking to teams in World Superbike and that's no secret. Originally when I was thinking about moving there it was to be with a good factory team and bike and that was something that I thought could be fun and it would interest me.
“Now though all the factory bikes are gone so I need to see if I'd rather stay at home or else race in Superbikes on a less than factory machine. I need to wait and see what opportunities come up because I don't really have any exciting options here in MotoGP; just stuff at the back of the field.
“There's been talk of a test rider role in MotoGP and maybe that could come with a wild-card but it's not something that we've really talked about. I don't want to say the manufacturer because I don't want to start a story and it's very early at the moment and there's not even an offer on the table.”
The 34-year-old was honest enough to admit he may have to call time on a racing career that has brought one world title and three premier-class race wins should the right ride not appear in the coming weeks.
“It's getting to the point where I might have to consider staying at home but that's obviously not my first choice,” he continued. “I still enjoy racing and even a bad day here is something that most people would take so that they could do this job but if no good opportunity comes up I'd have to consider that option.”
Pushed to rate his chances of lining up in the World Superbike series next year, Hayden said it was 'fifty-fifty'.
“Because I'd look like a fool if it don't come off I'd say it's fifty-fifty maybe. It's pretty open I guess. Don't tie me down too much! Fifty-fifty I guess. I mean I like Superbike. I've always been a fan of Superbike racing. When Scott Russell was there as a kid I liked watching him.
"There was a time in America when people followed that more than GPs. There wasn't a GP in American and Laguna World Superbike was a big event when I was growing up with a lot of American riders. The series has some good racing. Is it MotoGP? No, but we'll see.
“Even from two weeks ago different options come up. In two weeks it went from something I never even considered to a lot of people talking about different things.
“We've been talking with Honda America. They don't have a road race team in America so they'd like to have some presence but it's not clear to what extent. I have a lot of support there so if it's the right place...”
Should a potential World Superbike deal not come off, Hayden ruled out the possibility of returning to the American national series, which he won in 2002 before joining MotoGP with Repsol Honda.
“I haven't talked to anyone in Moto America because at the moment it doesn't really interest me. The series is coming back but it's still only got four factory riders so that's not something that would really excite me and I'd probably prefer to do some MotoGP test riding instead.
“I don't want to say, I don't want to start some story [about a testing role]. There's no offer on the table but there has been a 'Would you be interested?' But my first choice is still the racing. I would consider it.”