Nicky Hayden says despite his wealth of experience at the Sepang International Circuit he heads back to Malaysia with big unknowns about how the Pirelli tyres will perform on the recently resurfaced track.
The Ten Kate Honda Racing rider is more familiar with Sepang than any other rider on the World Superbike grid after his days competing in MotoGP, with the track hosting the Malaysian round plus a huge amount of test days.
Hayden may have never reached the rostrum at Sepang but finished fourth on six different occasions in MotoGP and says it's a circuit he's always relished the challenge of.
However, after recent resurfacing work on the Sepang tarmac Hayden is keen to understand how the grip and tyre wear levels may have changed using the World Superbike-spec Pirelli rubber, while the banking in corners has reportedly also been altered, which throws up some unknowns for the American rider.
“The track is one I know well: it's big, long, wide and has a bit of everything,” Hayden said. “It'll be interesting to try it again after the recent resurfacing and to see how the tyres will perform with the new asphalt, whether it'll increase or lower the tyre wear and the general grip.
“In Malaysia, motorcycle racing is becoming more and more popular, especially as motorcycles are increasingly being used as the main vehicle of transportation in the country. This is a top-class venue and the event is always great fun for riders and fans, so I can't wait to get started.”
After an underwhelming outing at Imola Hayden has slipped to seventh in the World Superbike riders' championship and will eager to rediscover his form from Assen when he claimed his maiden WSBK podium.