While updates to the Production Honda are not expected until at least the start of the European season, Nicky Hayden is hoping that MotoGP's step into the unknown in Argentina can work in his favour.
Next weekend's inaugural event at the clockwise Termas de Rio Hondo circuit (pictured) will mark Argentina's first MotoGP round since 1999.
Austin, the previous newest event on the MotoGP calendar, hasn't been especially kind to Hayden - not helped by the Factory Honda and Yamahas teams testing at the venue prior to the 2013 debut round - but he has good form at other 'first time' rounds.
Hayden's most memorable new venue performance was a debut MotoGP victory, from a debut pole, at Laguna Seca in 2005. That was a circuit Hayden already knew from AMA competition, however the American also stood on the podium during MotoGP's first visit to Aragon (2010), Indianapolis (2008) and Istanbul Park (2005).
Other strong performances include fourth place at the inaugural 2010 Silverstone round, when Hayden inflicted a rare defeat on Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner, plus qualifying on the front row for Misano's 2007 MotoGP return (only to be caught up in a first turn incident).
“I like it,” Hayden said of the new challenge awaiting him. “In the past new tracks have always been good for me. Going to the same tracks every year is cool, but I always look forward to the challenge of a new track and trying to get up to speed as quick as possible.”
The only MotoGP riders with some knowledge of the Argentine venue will be Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista, Cal Crutchlow and Hector Barbera, who took part in a two-day fact-finding test at the circuit in July of 2013.
“Some teams have been there so everybody has some idea about tyres and transmission,” continued Drive M7 Aspar rider Hayden. “We're not going there completely blind.
“It should be fun. I'm really looking forward to it and then getting back in doing a couple of races in Europe on little bit smaller tracks. There is still a long way to go this year.”
The 2006 world champion continues to suffer with a lack of engine performance from his customer Honda (see below) but holds eighth in the world championship after eighth and eleventh places in the opening rounds.
Unfortunately for Hayden, the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit includes a 1km straight.
“It is very fast, has a very special layout in terms of speed and will be very attractive to the riders,” said FIM Safety Delegate Franco Uncini.