Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP Champion, will make his debut with Ducati Marlboro Oct. 27 following the 2008 season finale in Valencia, Spain. The 27-year-old from Owensboro, Ky. will join 2007 Champion Casey Stoner in testing the Ducati Desmosedici GP9 on the Valencia circuit.
“We are really happy to have Nicky join us,” says Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Corse chief executive officer and Ducati Motor Holding product director. “We are certain that his never-say-die attitude, riding style and character will be great additions to our team in 2009.”
Hayden will join Ducati after six years with Honda’s factory racing team. He will replace the departing Marco Melandri.
“I would like to thank HRC for allowing Nicky to start testing our bike immediately after the Valencia Grand Prix,” says Domenicali. “I would also like to thank Marco Melandri for his professionalism during a difficult year, which was below all our expectations. Unfortunately his feeling with the Desmosedici was never good enough to allow him to ride as well as he can. We wish him all the best for the future.”
Melandri will move to the Kawasaki Racing Team where he will partner with California native John Hopkins. Melandri will also be taking part in the Valencia testing session, riding Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR.
“I’m confident that Marco will adapt quickly to Kawasaki’s Ninja ZX-RR and that, together with John, he’ll be able to take us to the next level with the development of the all-new 2009 bike,” says Michael Bartholemy, competition manager for Kawasaki. “What is certain is that, with Marco and John, we will go into 2009 with our strongest rider line-up since Kawasaki made their full-time return to the premier class in 2002. Now we need to translate this strength and experience into improving our results, with achieving our first race win in MotoGP obviously the major goal.”
Hayden confirms departure from Honda