America's 2006 MotoGP World champion Nicky Hayden has announced that he will be leaving the factory Ducati team at the end of the season.
He told a news conference ahead of the United States Grand Prix at the Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, California.
“I'm not coming back to Ducati in MotoGP next year,” the Kentucky-born rider said. “I'm not really sure what I'm going to do - I've got some options that are interesting.”
Asked whether he hoped to stay in MotoGP or was looking at other categories, Hayden added: “Of course MotoGP is where my heart is, but I've got to weigh up the options. Unfortunately results haven't gone as planned over the years, but it is what it is.”
The 31-year-old American moved to Ducati in 2009 and has not won a race since 2006.
Hayden, who won his title with Honda, is ninth in this year’s championship with 57 points after eight of 18 races and will be out of contract at the end of the year. Italian team mate Andrea Dovizioso is sixth with 74.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow, who is having a great season on the satellite Tech3 Yamaha and is fourth in the standings, has been tipped as a likely candidate to replace Hayden, although the Ducati is less competitive than even the second-string Yamaha. - Reuters