Nicky Hayden continued to be hampered by technical problems on his home MotoGP debut with the new Open class Honda at Austin on Saturday.
The Drive M7 Aspar rider pulled off track in the opening minutes of morning practice robbing him of more track time with his number one bike.
The American went on to qualify in 14th place, directly behind the top RCV1000R of Gresini rookie Scott Redding.
“Of course nobody wants to have a home race like this. Not only the lap time, but we've had quite a few issues with one bike that left me stranded on track a couple of times,” said Hayden, speaking at the circuit on Saturday evening.
“Yesterday they thought they fixed it and today they don't know. They just changed a bunch of parts at once, crossed their fingers and it ran. The wiring is production wiring on a MotoGP bike. So you can imagine if you put cheap wiring on something, you can have problems. Maybe that was the case.
“We think it's fixed because in FP4 it kept running. That's really good. Because we know tomorrow the weather circumstances could mean it's a flag-to-flag race and we'll need both bikes.”
The best Honda customer machine has been around two-seconds from the top throughout the COTA weekend, the 1.2km straight and slow corners highlighting its relative lack of engine performance with Hayden 20km/h off the best top speed.
The 2006 world champion was asked how much weight he put on the encouraging early reports
of the RCV1000R's performance issued late last season, including private tests by Casey Stoner
and comments such as the “0.3s lap time difference to the Factory RC213V”
when signing-up for the new project.
“It was huge. Not just Casey, but I made my decision based off what I was told. What information I had on this bike. At that time it wasn't... It's a new project, it's going to take time. As we know, it's a little bit different to what I was expecting! You don't expect to come here on a Honda and have it quit twice on the out-lap and not know the problem. Things like that. I'm sure they haven't expected it either.”
But Hayden refused to directly criticise HRC, adding: “They're probably not happy with me either - all I've done is complain since I've been here!”
The new 'for sale' Production Honda is based on the world title winning RC213V, but comes without the pneumatic valves, seamless shift gearbox and Factory electronics.
As an Open class entry, the machine has perks such as four litres of extra race fuel and access to a softer rear tyre to help compensate. However the RCV1000R tank is not yet capable of holding the full 24 litres of race fuel.
Forward Yamaha's Aleix Espargaro again led the Open class challenge in Austin qualifying, claiming a career best fourth on the grid with the aid of the special soft tyre.
While Espargaro was 11km/h down on top speed, his leased (pneumatic valve) M1 engines do not appear to lack acceleration, suggesting a conservative rev ceiling has been applied by Yamaha and/or there are improvements to be made to the aerodynamics. The Forward fairing is not provided by Yamaha.