Nicky Hayden Tests Ducati Superbike

Will American world champion accept Ducati’s offer to compete in Superbike World Championship in 2014?

Nicky Hayden headshot

Ducati MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden tested a World Superbike-spec 1199 Panigale R this past Wednesday at the 15-turn, 3.25-mile Mugello Circuit in Italy. The 2006 MotoGP world champion completed approximately 30 laps in good weather conditions, crashing once.

“It was an interesting test,” said a source at Ducati. “Nicky found the Pirelli tires to be quite different. Obviously, the engine performance was quite different, too, but he had a good feeling with the bike.” Ducati did not release lap times or photos.

Ducati has offered Hayden a contract to ride a factory Ducati in the 2014 FIM Superbike World Championship. Hayden has stated that he would prefer to stay in MotoGP, where he is currently ninth in series points, though his first goal is to be competitive. Hayden, who won the 2002 AMA Superbike title on a Honda RC51, could be the first person to win MotoGP, AMA and SBK titles. No Americans currently compete in SBK.

Ducati has not fared well in Superbike this year. On pole last weekend at the Nurburgring in Germany, Team Ducati Alstare rider Ayrton Badovini has one podium finish and is currently 12th overall in the championship. His teammate, 2011 SBK World Champion Carlos Checa, is 14th. Round 12 of the 14-event SBK series will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, September 27-29.

Nicky Hayden race action shot

Nicky Hayden rode a stock Ducati 1199 Panigale R earlier this year at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.