Strange things happen when one company buys another. With Ducati in strategic limbo land as it awaits the clearance of the final regulatory approvals for Audi to purchase the company, Nicky Hayden finds himself caught up in “business as usual”.
Speaking from much experience, I can tell you that during a change of control period in the business world, leaders preach to their employees the need for “business as usual”. Change of control means uncertainty, none more so when the deal has been announced but not yet consummated.
This is the position Ducati finds itself in with respect to Audi. Even though the deal was announced months ago, the transaction has yet to close meaning Ducati must still operate as an independent entity, even if it will shortly come under German control.
The one exception is in the area of strategic activities. About to be gobbled up companies tend to delay any major decision that would otherwise bind the hands of the new owners to something they might not agree to. Example. MotoGP racing contracts.
Ducati hold an option on the services of Nicky Hayden for their factory Ducati MotoGP team. An option is the right, but not the obligation, to contract the Kentucky kid. With the option almost expired, Ducati claim to not be able to exercise it due to the impending Audi takeover. That hasn’t seemed to stop them courting Cal Crutchlow.
With the Briton currently hot property it makes sense for Ducati to see if they can entice the Englishman before sticking with the tried and true Hayden. In addition dating and actually getting married are too entirely different things as Hayden is finding out.
“They have an option on me, but that expires in a couple of days,” Hayden said. “(They say that) until the Audi deal is complete they can’t do nothing. We’ve had some good talks and other times … not really sure.”
And as Nicky points out, Ducati likely have other things on their mind.
“I’m sure Valentino is their first priority,” Hayden said of Ducati’s plans.
Once the option on Nicky expires, he is free to shop himself around to any other takers. Hayden sits in 7th position in the MotoGP title chase this year so far, just 2 points behind his famous team-mate. Although the 2006 MotoGP World Champion and 3 times race winner is not a title contender, his high work rate, amiable character and country of origin still make him an attractive choice for many teams.
And for Ducati fans who think that Cal might be able to jump on the Ducati and do a Casey, Nicky has some advice for them after getting up close and personal with Crutchlow at Assen.
“I rode a lot with Cal today. Of course Cal has got the right attitude and he is not going to give up easily, but today he was fighting that Yamaha a lot to be racing with me. Obviously, he got a bad start, but he’s not going to have to fight that Ducati any less.”
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