Puig blasts Hayden
10 October 2008
Dani Pedrosa's manager Alberto Puig has launched a stinging attack on the Spaniard's departing Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden - saying that the American used to 'copy' Pedrosa's settings because he can't set-up a bike himself, was never a rival to Pedrosa and is a 'hypocrite' for claiming that he doesn't have a problem with Dani.
During an interview with the official MotoGP website, former 500cc race winner Puig was asked about the wall which now divides the Repsol Honda pits, following Pedrosa's shock mid-season switch to Bridgestone tyres. Hayden has indicated that he doesn't like the idea of a team being divided.
"All I can say is that Hayden may be bothered because now he can't access information and telemetry data from Dani's bike," replied Puig. "With this information he was able to improve his riding, as he had all of Dani's references and now he can't use that any longer. He was simply copying as he never knew how to set-up a bike."
But that hasn't been reflected in terms of results. In the three races since the Repsol Honda pits were divided, Hayden has enjoyed his best form of the season - claiming two podium finishes and beating Pedrosa in two of the three races.
Indeed, during the last three rounds, Hayden has scored 47 points, while Pedrosa has managed just 24. It should of course be noted that Pedrosa is still adapting to his new tyres and the pneumatic-valve engine and also fell on lap one of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Turning to the subject of the prickly relationship between Pedrosa and Hayden, Puig admitted that it hasn't been the same since Dani collided with Hayden at the 2006 Portuguese Grand Prix - eliminating Hayden from the world championship lead with just one round to go.
Hayden subsequently won the title at the Valencia season finale, during which Dani waved him past early in race, but Puig claims the 2006 world champion has acted like a 'hypocrite' and is 'jealous'.
"Everything changed with the incident in Portugal, where Dani made a mistake during the race and apologised for it afterwards," said Puig. "Nicky eventually won the title and Dani did what he had to do in Valencia, which was to help him. But from that point - even if Hayden denies it - all he's been doing has been talking about how Dani was 'weird' and bringing the people around Pedrosa into the subject. He shouldn't act like a hypocrite and say that he doesn't have a problem with Dani, because since that incident in Portugal I think he has talked to him about twice. He shouldn't involve Dani's manager in this just because he's jealous of another rider."
But Puig played down any rivalry between Pedrosa and Hayden, since Hayden 'was always behind him'.
"Honestly, and without trying to offend anyone, there was never a rivalry in the garage," he said. "Nicky won the title when Dani was in his first MotoGP season, and since then there was no rivalry because he [Hayden] didn't get the results. On his own, Dani gained experience in this class and Nicky was always behind him, so Nicky has never been a serious rival."
Although Hayden hasn't won a race since 2006, he remains Honda's most recent MotoGP champion, with Pedrosa finishing second in 2007 and currently third in the 2008 standings with two rounds to go.
Hayden will switch to Ducati next season when Pedrosa, Honda's only MotoGP race winner since 2006 with four victories on the RC212V, will be partnered by Andrea Dovizioso. Puig admitted that Pedrosa is under pressure to secure the title.
"For sure we didn't get the results we expected or that Honda expected this year. It happened to Hayden this year and they eventually got rid of him, and it could also happen to Dani Pedrosa at some point if he doesn't get the results," admitted Puig. "For a manufacturer such as Honda, all that counts is getting the title. Any professional rider is aware of this, and like in Hayden´s case, you should know that what makes the difference is not the fact that your crew is doing more or less or saying this and that, but what the rider is able to do on the track every Sunday."
Puig also responded to claims that he runs the Repsol Honda garage.
"In my opinion, those who say that just lack respect to Honda and the work that they do," he replied. "All I can do is bring my experience of racing like Honda has asked me to do, as I've been working for a long time with Pedrosa and Honda, forming the 125cc and 250cc teams and winning three titles with them. If you refer to Hayden saying that I'm the one who's in charge or used to be in charge, then he has to understand that in this job and in this paddock, anyone who believes he is in charge of anything is simply wrong. Nobody has control over things or is in charge of anything - results decide everything and put the people in the place they are."
And what of Dovizioso's promotion to the factory Honda team in 2009?
"It is a logical step for a rider who has ridden for Honda his entire career, through 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP. [Dovizioso] has shown loyalty to the factory, and now he gets a perfect move for him," he said. "As for how it will affect us? It really won't change much and won't affect our way of working. He will be another rival on the track."