Circuit-by-circuit with Nicky Hayden
13 April 2007
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."
Donington Park (Great Britain): "It's a very narrow circuit and really bumpy; it remains me of American tracks. It's a track where technique is very important because of the blind corners. You have to ride with confidence and push hard, and you don't get chance to relax."
Assen (Holland): "This is one of my favourite circuits on the calendar. It's fun to ride, very fast and completely different to any other MotoGP circuit. It's a special place that you need time to get used to. It was too bad that they made the changes last year, because they took away some of the beauty of the place."
Sachsenring (Germany): "It's a left-hand track and with my dirt track experience riding on the left-hand side is pretty easy. It's also a track with two different parts. It's very narrow at the beginning but then it becomes wider towards the end of the lap. Overtaking is quite difficult, especially at the beginning of the lap, so you need to start high on the grid and make a good start to avoid falling behind."
Laguna Seca (USA): "I think Laguna's the best track on the calendar for me - it's a real rider's track. There are parts where you've got to be really smooth but there are also spots where you've got to be very aggressive too. Turn One and the Corkscrew are the ones that everybody talks about - those take a lot of guts. I like it because it's different. There isn't another track in the world that's got a Corkscrew like that - the drop away is so big. It's a tough track, some people find it a little bit bumpy and it's not the widest so it's pretty tight on a MotoGP bike. It's no secret they need to work on the safety a bit, but they've been working really hard to make it safer since we went there."
Brno (Czech Republic): "One of the best circuits on the world championship. It's a wide and flowing track, ideal for racing and it's difficult to break away. It's a great place to make up places, because there are quite a few good braking points that are perfect for overtaking."
Misano (San Marino): "I've never raced there before, just like most of the world championship riders. They've also changed the track direction and are still making changes now, so we're all going to go there with a level playing field. Fortunately the guys from the Superbike World Championship are going to race there before we do, so we'll get to learn something about the track from their two races."
Estoril (Portugal): "It's quite a hard track. It has a lot of unevenness and the layout is a bit different, with ups and downs and very tight corners. I crashed a couple of times there last year. It's not an easy circuit."
Motegi (Japan): "It has a lot of hard braking points and the surface is unusual. I like the tunnels and bridges a lot, they make it more fun. The final section is good as well; there are a series of difficult cambers where you have to brake hard."
Phillip Island (Australia): "It's my favourite circuit. The atmosphere and the location on top of a hill, surrounded by the ocean, are fantastic. Its main problem is the wind and the seagulls. Two years ago I hit one of them and it was really dangerous."
Sepang (Malaysia): "I've done a lot of laps on this circuit because we've spent several days testing here. It isn't an easy circuit because it's really long and wide. It was hard to get used to at first but, in general, I think that it's a good circuit because it has a bit of everything. Tight corners, fast sections... The grip level is very important because the track temperature increases a lot in the afternoon."
Ricardo Tormo (Valencia): "I also like this track because somehow it reminds me of the American tracks, narrow and twisty. I think that it's one of those tracks that needs a more aggressive riding style. I like the layout because it makes for close racing, although overtaking isn't easy."