Nicky Hayden says his highest hope for the new Honda Fireblade is more engine power to catch up his fellow factory rivals at Kawasaki and Ducati in order to strengthen his charge in World Superbikes.
The American is filling in for Jack Miller at Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda for the Aragon MotoGP round in between the German and French World Superbikes race weekends having switched to the production-based series last winter.
Hayden, who has scored four podium results in his rookie World Superbike campaign highlighted by victory in race two at Sepang, currently sits fifth in the riders' championship.
After explaining his two-year deal with the factory-supported Ten Kate Honda team was boosted with the expected arrival of a new Fireblade CBR1000RR SP for 2017, Hayden is keeping his fingers crossed the new model will deliver outright power to match the current Kawasaki and Ducati front-runners.
With early shots being spilled online of a production version of the new Honda Superbike being tested, Hayden is relishing the chance to ride the new specification and hopes his team can get to grips with it as early as possible to prepare for a 2017 title challenge.
“I hope it [new Honda] can help us. The team haven't got the bike yet, so that's a little bit of a worry because we need to be testing it,” Hayden said. “We start [racing] in February and the team do the work themselves. They develop the bike. So I can't really say too much until they get their hands on it.
“We definitely hope to have more on the engine side, can help us close that gap to the factory bikes. At the moment the chassis is very good but you know what it's like. You start putting more horsepower and it can change the feeling of the chassis. But I would say the electronics are very good. The chassis, the base, is good. But until we really see the complete [new] bike.”
READ: One reason why Honda needs a new Fireblade for 2017
Hayden has paid credit to his Ten Kate Honda squad and believes they have maximised the full potential of the aging bike this season to outperform its BMW and Yamaha rivals comprehensively in 2016 but is aware of the change of capabilities between the Dutch squad and his previous experiences at the factory Honda and Ducati teams in MotoGP.
“Credit to Ten Kate, I really like that team. I think they did a great job this year,” he said. “We've improved quite a lot from the first time I rode the bike and - I mean they don't have the same Marlboro [Ducati] or Repsol Honda budget, where we just made 'five of those, three of those'!
“They do what they can. They really try hard, Ronald and the guys really invest, put a lot into the bikes to try to improve and they have for sure.”
In 2017 Hayden will be joined by Stefan Bradl as his new Honda team-mate in World Superbikes with Michael van der Mark moving to the Crescent Racing-run Pata Yamaha squad.