American MotoGP fans and fans of Nicky Hayden exhaled last week when Ducati announced it had signed The Kentucky Kid to a one-year contract for 2013 to continue riding for Ducati Corse.
Still, some wondered why Hayden was extended for just one year when his first two deals with Bologna were for two years apiece. It also was odd considering Ducati reportedly has proceeded deep into negotiations with Cal Crutchlow for a two-year deal starting next season.
Ducati also is rumored to be talking with Andrea Dovizioso for its other GP13 in case Valentino Rossi bails for Yamaha. But if Rossi is persuaded to stay with Ducati for one more contract, it's unlikely that pact will be just one year.
So why just one year for Hayden? Because maybe that's the way he wanted it, sources told Soup. Ducati might have offered Hayden an option-laden two-year deal, sources said, but he decided to extend for just one.
It's a smart move that will allow Hayden to pursue more competitive machinery or move to another series if he endures another season of glacial technical improvement at Ducati in 2013.
Ducati's two-year offer to Hayden and a similar-length deal to his 2013 teammate also should neuter any stories that the Teutonic hammer of Audi forced Ducati to offer just a one-year deal to Hayden to make room for German Stefan Bradl in Bologna after next season.
That still could happen if Hayden doesn't want to return or isn't offered a deal by Ducati a year from now. But it appears that a Bradl-to-Ducati move in 2014 isn't pre-ordained like many figured once the German auto manufacturing giant Audi completed its purchase of Ducati in mid-July.
Bradl has done a quietly impressive job this year in his rookie season in MotoGP, the first of a two-year deal with LCR Honda. But there's a difference between one solid season on a satellite bike and a 10-year career exclusively on factory machinery that includes a World Championship.