MotoGP » 13 April 2007
Circuit-by-circuit with Nicky Hayden.
MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden hasn't had the easiest of starts to his title defence, sitting sixth in the standings after round two of 18.
Here, following on from Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, the American discusses each of the circuits on the 2007 calendar and the type of challenge they offer on a MotoGP machine as he seeks to return to winning ways...
Losail (Qatar): "I quite like this track. It's got a couple of banked corners that are fun and there are some long, long right handers which are pretty cool. I'd say my favourite part is the first three corners: two banked corners followed by a fast right-hander. I've never seen a track with more run-off for safety. It's kinda funky too because they don't have grass, it's all rocks or Astroturf. And because it's in the desert the wind blows the sand in and gets the track dirty, so normally on Friday it's slippery but by Sunday the grip gets better. It's weird racing there though because there are hardly any spectators."
Jerez (Spain): "Jerez is a circuit I know quite well because we've done a lot of winter testing there. It's a circuit where it's hard to find the limit but it is also has one of the best layouts of the championship. The atmosphere during the grand prix is incredible; the Spanish fans see the race as a big party and it's always impressive to see the grandstands packed with people."
Istanbul (Turkey): "Turkey doesn't remind me of any other track. It's got a lot of elevation changes which means you've got to get a good suspension set-up - something that's going to work in the flat corners but also be ok for the uphill and downhill corners too. Probably the favourite part for me is turn 11. It's the fastest corner on the calendar - fifth gear with the throttle almost wide open. If you like fast corners it doesn't get a whole lot better than that. The last little bit of the circuit I don't like much because it's a bit too tight for MotoGP - first gear and really go-kartish."
Shanghai (China): "My favourite thing about China is that I really like the surface. I'm sure the layout is great for Formula One car racing but for motorcycles it's too much of a stop-and-go track. It's got some sections that are really cool though. The long right-hander heading onto the back straightaway is probably my favourite part. And the back straightaway goes on for ages, even at 200mph. It just goes and goes and goes, before you hit the hardest braking point on the circuit. It's also a wide track so there are definitely some different lines you can take. The facility is amazing - it's ridiculous how much those cats have spent on the place."
Le Mans (France): "It's a very hard track, probably one of the hardest of the championship. The asphalt is in bad condition, it's very slippery and it gets worse when it rains. The layout isn't bad, but the surface is probably the worst of the championship."
Mugello (Italy): "It was a very difficult track for me to learn, but it's one of the most incredible circuits I've ever seen. It's built on an impressive site, on top of a hill, and it needs a very good set-up. I always look forward to racing at Mugello."
Catalunya (Spain): "It's a track that combines a lot of things. It has two completely different parts: first a bumpy section, which was repaved not long ago, and another section in the middle that feels totally different to ride. The set-up of the bike is very important; you need to find a balance to make it work on both sections. Like Mugello, it's one of the circuits where you hit a really high top speed."
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