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Hayden: It’s starting to feel like my bike

"I definitely hope that I can fight for better positions and can bring out something better in myself" - Nicky Hayden
The first weeks away from any series in which you've spent the majority of you career are always going to be about adjusting. In Nicky Hayden's case, a departure from the MotoGP class after one world championship and 13 years was no different.

The 34-year old for Owensboro, Kentucky opted for a shot at the World Superbike series after two largely fruitless years competing in the 'Open' class, which yielded just three top-ten finishes on a hopelessly underpowered and underdeveloped bike.

Two tests into his new adventure and Hayden's spirits were lifted as he was already getting a feel for Honda's Superbike engine, electronics and Pirelli tyres, as well understanding the workings of his new team and crew chief Gerardo Acocella.

At a three-day test in Jerez, Hayden posted a 1m 41.004s time on day two, the fastest anyone had pushed the CBR1000R around the Andalusia track on race tyres. A day later, as he acclimatised to Pirelli's qualifying rubber, he took over 0.8s off that previous best, with a time that would have seen him qualify on pole for the two races here in September.

The main issue, however, was the frightening speed of Kawasaki. Not only in a straight line, but lap by lap, in Hayden's words, riders Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea “are quite a lot faster than us.”

After the second day of testing, where Hayden was left to test the bulk of new settings and parts after new team-mate Michael van der Mark flew home due to arm pain on day two, the 2006 world champion told journalists of his initial impressions of the World Superbike machine and expectations for the year ahead.

Question:
What were your initial impressions of the CBR1000R when you first rode it in Aragon?

Nicky Hayden:
Obviously it's different, especially those first few laps in Aragon. Even here on the first two or three exits it felt very strange again. With more time the feeling is starting to come back and with a few adjustments it's starting to feel like my bike. Overall I enjoy riding the bike and I feel pretty comfortable on it. I'm enjoying it so far so let's see how it goes.

Question:
What are the biggest areas in which you have to adapt most?

Nicky Hayden:
Well, the engine for sure. The MotoGP bike, I do like that. It definitely pushes a lot harder. These straights are quite a lot shorter on a MotoGP bike! The position is a little bit different. Everything's different really. As I said in Aragon, I don't want to get too crazy thinking about what's different. I know it's a different bike and I want to focus on adjusting to it. Obviously some things are a bit tricky. You can't change the gearbox. It's been a while since I haven't been able to change one. I'm in between gears in a few places and it would be nice to be able to change a primary. So today we were trying some overall gearing but you know, one tooth makes a big difference! It's been a long time since I needed to change a complete tooth. Things like that are a big difference.

Question:
Coming off a difficult two years, would you say your motivation is higher at this stage as you start a new adventure?

Nicky Hayden:
Well, of course the last two years were really tough. [But] Even for those races I could still get motivated. I can't really say I'm more motivated but there is some fun ahead. Some of the changes are nice. I get to go to some more tracks and I definitely hope that I can fight for better positions and can bring out something better in myself. It's tough to risk everything to move from 14th to 13th once you've been a world champ. Hopefully we can find something extra.

Question:
How have the opening exchanges with the team gone?

Nicky Hayden:
Everything's going ok. Obviously we have to learn more in communication. For my crew chief it's a new bike for him. The team is all on the same track. They really did a lot of work, changing swingarms between the two bikes. I think they're understanding me more. I'm quite an intense guy. The team's pretty laid back while I'm quite intense so I think now they're understanding me more.

Question:
Has it taken you long to find the limit on this bike? Would you say that you're currently riding on the limit in Jerez?

Nicky Hayden:
I'm not the kind of rider that says, 'Oh, I'm riding at 80 percent, I'm not pushing.' I mean, I push every time I go on the track. I'm pushing. I'd love to tell you that I'm riding at 80 percent and that I've got a half second in my pocket but no, I'm pushing hard. That's all I know how to do. The data you get and information, I believe in riding hard to get them the right data and to give me the right feeling. In Aragon I would say that I was leaving something [on the track] but here I'm pushing.

Question:
Are the electronics quite a big departure from the 'Open' Magneti Marelli spec that you used in 2015, which we know were no good?

Nicky Hayden:
Compared to what I had on the 'Open' bike I prefer these. It has more adjustability. We can suit it more to this bike. The 'Open' bike had a lot of horsepower but we just couldn't use it because the electronics were no good. I like working with these electronics better. We can dial them in better and get a better connection out of them. You can see what the factory [Repsol Honda] guys think of the 'Open' electronics and they weren't even using my 'Open' electronics. They are already one step ahead. I mean they're nice, for the moment for they're ok.

Question:
How do you find the Pirellis?

Nicky Hayden:
The Pirellis are obviously different. You can get a good feel with them pretty quick. There's things I like about them. The consistency is maybe not as much as the Bridgestone but in the flat corners they work really good. Like in turn three, with the Bridgestone when you lean over there with no load it just spin, spin, spins. Here, even in a flat corner they have good grip. Like in Aragon in turn six, where you flick it over there and the track is flat. Bridgestones would spin while these hook up. I've got to say, I'm impressed with the tyre, considering you can go to the dealership and buy that tyre. Johnny Rea's doing low [1 minute] 40s on it. It's pretty impressive, I must say. The front, well you can't have your knee down with the front brake still on…

Question:
In terms of the bike, is there currently one area that needs more work than others?

Nicky Hayden:
We haven't run into any major stumbling blocks. In Aragon we spent a lot of time just on the first connection, that first touch of the throttle, to get it direct. I like to really feel what's in the wrist and to feel the rear tyre. We spent a lot of time with that. Also, the engine braking, working on that. I like it a bit freer than what they've had here. So that's taken a bit of time. For the suspension and the handling we've made a few adjustments but that's not our biggest problem.

Question:
Do you feel that you will need to transform your style on the bike to get the best out of it?

Nicky Hayden:
Nah, it's not completely different. It's not a tricycle or something! There are things you adjust to but I think riders just adjust. The bike gives you one feeling and you adjust.

Question:
Are you testing new parts in this test or is it more about adjusting settings?

Nicky Hayden:
We have a couple of little things to try and improve acceleration. I don't know what, something in the engine. There's not a lot they can do in the engine, with the rules. I think the [cylinder] heads open. We have one different engine to try. We seem to be a little better on top [end] but it's not as good acceleration. Also the bike has some vibration. They've got some sensors that they want to run with, just to measure vibration. Like maybe you seen on the first exit in both days. I had something on the tank cover, to get some data.

Question:
In terms of approaching the weekend, what are your thoughts on having two races in one day?

Nicky Hayden:
Absolutely. The schedule, I'll have to look at it to understand how it goes. My little brother [Roger] is doing two races in MotoAmerica in a very similar schedule. Today is the first day I've made a long run. I did an eleven lap run, a half race, to get a little feeling.

Question:
There has been some discussion on the running of one race on Saturday, the other on Sunday. Would you prefer this timetable to two in one day?

Nicky Hayden:
I've thought about that and for me I'd probably prefer it just because it's the first year. It would give me more time. The races are quite close and there's not a lot of time to understand it. I would probably rather do one race, have the night to think about it, watch the video and race again. But also at the new tracks it's one less day to learn the track and set-up. It's not going to be my choice anyway. So I'll see what the schedule says and line up when they tell me to line up.

Question:
Is it too early to speak of expectations for 2016 at this stage?

Nicky Hayden:
I'm not going to open my mouth and give you a number but I want to be competitive. I see Kawasaki here and they're really quick. Even on this straight here they're seven or eight kph faster than us and that's only a fifth gear straight. They're consistently quite a lot quicker than us. I don't like that at the moment but they told me that was the fastest lap anyone ever did on this bike on race tyres. That's encouraging. The gap to the green bikes at the moment looks pretty big. I mean those lap times are fast.

Question:
Will this be your last test before Australia?

Nicky Hayden:
We have one more test here in January. At the moment. It's only two days. We could probably do with another test. We might discuss that to see if a test is in the budget. Even in Phillip Island you have just two days off [between test and race]. It's not really a lot of time to work on the dyno or shocks or something different.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Hayden, Aragon WSBK 16-17th Nov Test 2015
Sykes, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Davies and Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Davies and Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Sykes and Davies, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Melandri and Sykes, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes and Camier, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Akrapovic, WSBK race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Sykes, Race2, Imola WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Race2, Imola WSBK 2017

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Jimmy1

December 03, 2015 12:36 PM
Last Edited 329 days ago

Those Kawasakis are just scary. I think only factory Aprilia could compete with them, which is sadly gone...

Bazx7r: So Hayden has realised, he's swapped one under powered under develloped bike for another one, I aprecite he's being his usual cheerful and diplomatic self, but good luck to you fella, you'll need it. I also hope he remembers that rubbin's racin, cos it happens alot in WSB.
2016 is just a transitional year for Hayden. There should be a new CBR in 2017.

Braap

December 04, 2015 1:50 PM

In a way it's interesting to see him on the Blade. I think even the team agree that it's not the best out there but on a good day Johnny Rea could still sneak a win so it's a good measure of Nicky's skill. If he's mid pack then he's Guinters level whereas if he's bothering the podium he's in the Rea camp. If he were on the Kawa everyone would say it was the bike but if he does well on the Honda then that'll be down to Nicky. Hoping for a good result and the return of the Hayden mojo.



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