A settlement has been reached between Nicky Hayden and Yamaha, following a claim by Yamaha that the American already had a contract with them when he signed for the Repsol Honda team.

Having won the 2002 AMA SBK championship, Hayden had been looking for a GP ride, but his employers Honda didn't appear to be able to offer him a factory seat on one of their machines, and seemed to want Nicky to spend either another year in the AMA, or perhaps move to WSBK.

That gave Yamaha the chance it needed and Hayden was quickly being lined up to take Max Biaggi's former ride on the full factory M1. The issue that caused the rift between Yamaha and Hayden is that Hayden is believed to have signed a 'letter of intent' - or something similar - to ride for Yamaha in 2003 and 2004.

Only at that point did Honda realise how serious Hayden was about leaving them and, by now desperate not to lose one of their most popular rising stars, promptly offered him one of the four factory RCVs for this year - something that Colin Edwards and Max Biaggi were unable to get from HRC - and even gave him a seat in the official Repsol Honda team, such was their determination to keep him.

Nicky, unsurprisingly, changed his mind at that point and signed for Honda. He and International Racers, Inc. clearly believing they weren't bound to the earlier Yamaha deal - something which Yamaha disagreed upon, hence the litigation. Yamaha went on to sign 250cc World Champion Marco Melandri.

Whatever the rights and wrongs, the matter appears to have been cleared up well before Hayden's MotoGP race debut in the season opening Japanese Grand Prix on April 6.

The brief statement regarding the settlement can be seen below:

"Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd., International Racers, Inc. (IRI) and Nicky Hayden herewith announce that a settlement has been reached in relation to a claim by Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. against IRI and Nicky Hayden with regard to the contractual issues related to the 2003 and 2004 racing season.

"This settlement will prevent any litigation between the parties regarding these claims. IRI and Mr. Hayden wish to emphasize that Yamaha never did anything wrong or inappropriate and that they greatly admire Yamaha and have the utmost respect for Yamaha as a fine racing organization.

"The parties mutually agreed that this out of court settlement was in the best interests of all parties and for the sport of motorcycle racing. This settlement will allow Yamaha, Nicky Hayden and IRI to put this dispute behind them. Terms of the settlement are confidential."



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