Nicky Hayden continued his fast adaption to World Superbike machinery with a three-day test in Jerez yielding a promising final lap along with valuable track time.
Coming off his 13th season in the MotoGP class, Hayden looked visibly fast on Ten Kate Honda's CBR1000RR from the off at the Andalusia-based track as he worked his way through a myriad of set-up changes.
With new team-mate Michael van der Mark withdrawing from the test on Wednesday evening after complaining of arm pain, the American's workload was increased.
Although Kawasaki team-mate's Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea raised the bar on Friday with lap times that were faster than several MotoGP men, Hayden managed to use Pirelli's qualifying tyre to good effect to post a best time of 1m 40.193s on the final day.
That time would have been enough to earn pole position at the World Superbike round here in September and was just a tenth of a second slower than his qualifying time aboard Aspar's 'Open' Honda for the MotoGP race in May.
Bearing that in mind, Hayden declared himself pleased with the progress made over the three days and ahead of the enforced winter break. “We really must be thankful for the weather because, apart from temperatures a bit chilly in the morning, we had really great weather for three days.
“We needed it after missing so much time at MotorLand Aragon. We worked a lot in pretty much every area, because it's still early days. We tested a lot of things and the team worked extremely hard over the three days changing wheelbase, gearing and more. They did a huge amount of work.
“Overall we take some positives out of this test. I had great fun on the qualifying tyre today and I was told my time would have been enough to be on pole position here two months ago. It's clear that everybody has made a big step forward already so we still have a lot of work to do. But I'm happy and looking forward to everything, let's see if we can keep going this way.”