Nicky Hayden admits it will take time for him to feel fully comfortable aboard the Ducati GP9, but is confident he is well on the way to finding the improvements he needs to forge his way into contention.
Speaking after the second day testing at Sepang, Hayden finished down in ninth position, 1.7secs adrift of pace setting team-mate Casey Stoner, after struggling to get to grips with a hard tyre compound from Bridgestone.
Slicing a second off his best time from yesterday on used tyres, the switch to new rubber would nonetheless set Hayden back for the majority of the day as he struggled with set-up. Even so, the American was at least pleased with the consistency of the Bridgestone tyres.
“We made a big improvement immediately this morning on used tyres and I was able knock a second off my best time from yesterday,” he said. “We struggled a bit in the afternoon, though, and didn't manage to improve any further. I can't push it on the harder compound tyre because it makes the rear move around so much more and the bike becomes unstable.
“At the end of the session we made a little change that improved the situation and I was able to get back onto my better lap times. The Bridgestones are really consistent and that makes our job a lot easier. Today I did 35 laps on the same front tyre without any problems!”
Acknowledging that there is much work to be done before he can fully settle on the Desmosedici, Hayden is satisfied there is plenty more to come from him and the bike.
“We know and I know that there is a lot of work to be done. Everything is still very new to me – the engine characteristics, the chassis and the tyres, as well as the way the team works together. Obviously it's not easy to put all that together straight away. We're working hard though and the improvements will come.”