Nicky Hayden, Roger Hayden - Q&A: Pt.1
2 August 2010
Following the recent US Grand Prix, Nicky Hayden and younger brother Roger Hayden took part in a media teleconference hosted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Nicky finished fifth for Ducati at Laguna Seca, while Roger - who stood in for the injured Randy de Puniet at LCR Honda - claimed eleventh place in his first MotoGP appearance since 2007.
America's second MotoGP round, the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, will be held on August 27-29 - when Nicky will be looking to repeat his 2009 podium, while Roger will make his debut in the Moto2 class….
Nicky, I'll start with you. What is it about Indianapolis, about the circuit there, the vibe, the crowd. What is it that suits you? You've rode so well there, being on the podium the first two years of the race. Is there anything that sticks out, that really works for you there?
Not necessarily one thing. I do think racing inside the oval, somewhat, I feel pretty comfortable. Growing up in America, we raced at a lot of tracks with that same style setup. Daytona, Vegas, Colorado, Loudon. There was a lot of tracks where we raced inside the oval. Indianapolis, you don't really feel it as much because we don't use the banking too much. But I like that. Also, the track is very technical. There's three or four different types of almost sections. You have some new pavement, old pavement. It's not an easy track for the riders or for the teams for the setup because you have to try to get the bike to work on the bumps in those parts. And also with some fast corners, slow corners. So quite tricky. More than anything, I just like the atmosphere, the crowd. My home crowd is always worth something.
Rog, how tough has it been for you … you've been on quite a variety of machines this year. Heck, in the last two or three weeks you've tested a 600cc Moto2 bike, you've ridden a 1000cc World Superbike and you raced an 800cc MotoGP bike. How tough has it been to adjust to all three of those bikes, because we're not just talking engine displacement, but different levels of electronics and things like that?
Roger Lee Hayden:
It's been pretty tough, but for the Moto2 bike, I had two full days to get used to it. And I had a lot of time riding a 600, spent a lot of years on one. That adjustment wasn't quite as much. The GP bike was quite, was quite different than a Superbike or a 600. That one took a little bit longer to get used to. But I just try to think about it the night before, the days leading up to it about what bike I'm going to ride and come in prepared for it.
Roger, this is for you. Is there any testing you're going to be able to get done, and are you going to Brno?
Roger Lee Hayden:
I'm not sure yet about Brno just because the team is planning on having Randy back, and that's their goal. For right now, Randy believes he's going to be back for that race. So now it's just kind of setting back and waiting.
This is going to sound like an obvious question, but I'm dying to hear your answer. Being on the podium at Indianapolis, you've been there and done that. I'm taking it that this year you want to be the guy on the top spot, and nothing else matters.
Well, that top spot is always a lot nicer than the two spots beside them. I've had four fourth places this year, and the difference between podium and winning is huge. We know the level in MotoGP is really high. Lorenzo and Dani, who has been winning the last couple, are strong. So I know to think about a win, man, that's out there. But that's always the goal. I have the team to do it, the bike. All the pieces are there. So, Brno is the race leading up to it, with a test on the Monday. Obviously, we've got big goals, and I believe in myself. So we'll go for it, for sure.
For years, guys were asked about Valentino Rossi, and now the questions are about Lorenzo. What does it take to beat a guy like Lorenzo? What are you looking at when you try and take him down?
The thing he's proven this year is that he's really solid. Last year he had the speed, but we'd see a few mistakes here or there at the track. This year, he's qualified first or second or finished first or second in every race this year. So he's really showed no weaknesses. So to really answer your question, at the moment, he's not showing any weaknesses. So we'll keep monitoring the situation, I guess, and see what develops. But now, nothing.
Nicky, are you sick? You're starting to sound like Earl there.
Yeah, actually I don't feel bad. But I've lost my voice. I think five races in six weeks in five different countries, and follow up with a race at home, with a lot going on, just I lost my voice. But actually I feel fine. No, no drama there.
I didn't get a chance to talk to you Sunday night, but I was hoping you'd recap the race a little bit. I know you got a bad start, but it looks like you had a battle all the way through to the end.
The actual race wasn't too bad. It was about as much as we could have hoped for all weekend. I wasn't happy with how the weekend had actually went. I was seventh, eighth in most all the sessions, during the sessions, with a little gap. So that battle for the podium with Rossi, Dovizioso and Spies, that group was really about a half-second faster than me all week. And a half-second at Laguna is a lot. Laguna is our shortest track in the whole championship as far as lap time. But for the race, very thankful the team. We made a few changes. We actually made a pretty big change for Sunday morning and maybe went a little too far. And then for the race, we a few small changes. Changed the weight balance, and the bike felt good in the race and was able to certainly do my best pace of the weekend by quite a ways. I can't be disappointed too bad with the race because after practice and qualifying, you know going into the race you're not just drop a second. I was able to drop about a half of a second. That's a big thanks to the team to keep working hard. The podium was only about a second in front of me, which I think I've had about four or five of those now this year. So that's not cool. But regardless, the race wasn't as bad as it could have been but certainly not as good as we had hoped on the way out there.
Gentlemen. Rog, I wonder if you can tell the press who weren't at Laguna how the test on the Moto2 bike went in the extreme heat, the desert heat, there in California.
Roger Lee Hayden:
The test was really good, especially for the first test with the new bike. The Erion guys, they've built a lot of 600s, but they've never built a Moto2 bike. So there's a lot of different things they can do to it. And, as usual, we had a few little problems with the data to begin with, with some sensors and stuff. But not a whole lot. It was tough, 110 degrees, so it wasn't easy for me or the mechanics. But we get it running pretty quick right away. Some lap times that we know a couple of the AMA teams that have been out there before. We just kind of worked at our own pace. We had a plan, and we just stuck to it. I was just surprised at how smooth it went. And for me, it was also getting back used to riding a 600 coming from the Superbike. But I really enjoyed the bike. And I think me and the team and everybody at Honda left that test feeling encouraged for Indy.
Nick, post-race at Laguna, you said you were riding over your head, but you were going faster than ever before. That doesn't sound like the Nicky Hayden any of us have known for the last 15 years. Can you talk a little bit about what it's been like on that Ducati this season?
Well, I didn't mean over my head. Maybe the way it sounded. But just on the limit. The last five laps there, I was just pushing hard. Rossi was bringing back Dovi, and I was bringing them both back. Spies was in the mix. So I didn't necessarily maybe mean over my head, but just riding on the absolute limit, definitely on the edge and maybe even over it a little bit. That's what it takes right now in MotoGP. We've seen this week. How many crashes were there this weekend and even during the race? Dani at the front was riding on the limit, and that's what it takes.
Nicky, five countries in six weeks. Can you talk about what it took a kid from Owensboro to get to the top of the profession the way you have? And how often do you get back to Owensboro?
I'm in Owensboro right now. We just flew in, me and most of the whole crew flew in to Evansville last night. That's normally the airport we fly into. So we got home late last night. Back home now to regroup for the final push. We're basically midway through our season, so it's an important time. Obviously, we started it young. My parents both raced. Our whole family is into bikes and just grew up with always the goal, just having fun, but always really wanted to make a career out of it. And it was something we all loved to do. So we had hoped to parlay it into a career. Luckily had some good sponsors and caught some breaks along the way. And every time we got an opportunity, we just tried to make the most out of it. Started out dirt-tracking and then got into road racing, and turned professional at 15 and just worked my way up to the race here in the AMA. And with the AMA championship in 2002, was able to get opportunity to go to MotoGP.
What is it about motorsports and Owensboro? You've got the Waltrips and the Greens and Mayfields in NASCAR, and you guys. Is there an atmosphere over there that's conducive to racing?
If you look at the results, there has to be something, definitely. Owensboro's turned out a lot of good people in motorsports and even sports, in general, for the population. You'd be surprised. A lot of athletes have came from this area. I don't think there's necessarily one thing that sticks out. I think it is quite a central location. There is a lot of racing here in the Midwest for motorcycles, and I think that helps it.
Nicky, in one of your answers there, you talked about making the most of opportunities. I know you and Roger have been aggressive about pursuing any possibility to race in World Championship, whether it be wild-card or moving up to MotoGP after winning your AMA championship. Tommy has been more content to stick around in domestic racing. Do you think he has any interest in dipping his toes in the water in world championship racing, and if so, how do you think he would do?
I think if the right opportunity came up, sure, he would like it. He would like to win the AMA championship first. That's a big goal of his. He's right in a good position. Him and Hayes looks like going down to the wire, which is exciting for bike racing in America. He's won a lot of Supersport races and titles. I think more than anything, an opportunity hsan't came up. It's one of those things where you've got to be in the right place at the right time, like Rog this week on the MotoGP bike. He got that opportunity almost because of not really having a good, solid ride right now with something. Life is like that. Just be there, be whatever, when you're name is called. Step up and try to make a splash. But I certainly believe in Tommy's talent and think with the right opportunity, he could certainly cut it at the international level.
Roger, do you think this experience this weekend will have any kind of help for your upcoming Moto2 opportunity, or is it just an extra thing on the side, pretty much?
Roger Lee Hayden:
No, I think this past weekend I learned a lot. The crew chief at LCR, he's been around for a long time. I learned a lot, believe me. I had no pressure on me, but he also gave me advice, a few times in practice, different things about stringing more laps together. I learned some stuff even for the World Superbike Championship this weekend that can help. I get to see a lot how the championship goes and how racing at the world level, going over different data. Just different things. You always try to learn from every circumstance. I felt like this weekend was a big opportunity for me, and I feel like I learned a lot. And I hope to carry it on for the rest of the year. I'm always trying to learn something, so I felt like any opportunity I can get, I can always keep using it.