2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden
finished the first day of 2009 testing eleventh out of the 19 riders present at Sepang on Thursday, as he continued the process of adapting to the new carbon-fibre framed Desmosedici GP9 following five seasons at Repsol Honda.
Sepang marks Hayden's third test with Ducati and, although he says the powerful Italian machine fits him well, the fact that he can't instantly 'drop the hammer' proves he is yet to fully bond with the machine.
“You know I've never felt too uncomfortable on it,” replied Nicky, when asked by Crash.net
if it felt like his bike yet. “I haven't had to change a lot, the geometry fits me pretty good, but still I wouldn't say it's my bike because when I go out it takes me too many laps to go fast. It's not like I can just go out and drop the hammer yet.”
Since its 2007 debut, the 800cc Desmosedici has built a reputation as a fearsomely effective grand prix winner in the hands of Casey Stoner, but bewildering to many of the other Ducati riders.
Hayden at least has a clear idea of where he needs to find time, revealing that the Desmosedici remains 'wild' on corner exit - although its other characteristics are encouraging.
“Yeah [it's still wild]. On the exit here I'm having some problems with stability - a lot of pumping. Everywhere else is really stable; on the brakes, through the fast corners, but on the exit when it breaks loose there's a lot of pumping,” said the American.
One theory as to why Stoner, the 2007 world champion and 2008 title runner-up, has been so successful with the Desmosedici is that he hasn't tried to tame it too much. Whilst not thinking specially in those terms, Hayden confirmed that he won't be sacrificing speed for comfort.
“We're not trying to fix it by making it slower; we're working more on the suspension set-up and power curve,” he explained. “We didn't make huge changes because I'm still quite a bit off the pace, so I want to get closer before we go and do any offsets or anything crazy.”
Hayden's best Thursday lap was a 2min 4.002sec, which was almost two seconds slower than second fastest Stoner. Hayden's best Honda lap in October's Malaysian Grand Prix was a 2min 2.758sec, set on his way to fourth position.