Nicky Hayden is intrigued to discover how the race version of the 2017 Honda Fireblade performs after trialling a street prototype in Valencia.
The 2006 MotoGP world champion is set to stand-in for the injured Dani Pedrosa at the factory Repsol Honda squad at Phillip Island as it falls in between the final two rounds of the 2016 World Superbike championship.
Speaking at the Australian MotoGP, Hayden says he is yet to test out the race version of the CBR1000RR ahead of next season but having completed laps around the Valencia track on the road version the American is encouraged the new bike will be able to give him sufficient gains to catch the dominant Kawasaki and Ducati squads.
“I got a chance to ride it a couple of weeks ago in street bike form,” Hayden said. “Got to ride Valencia on it. But it was just really a streetbike prototype, they were telling me to be careful.
“People ask how it will be in race trim? It's hard to say a whole lot until we really try it in race trim, but hopefully it's going to give us a better benchmark. I mean Ten Kate have done a good job to keep pushing with this bike, we're still doing competitive races, but we want to win. So hopefully with a new Honda we can get closer to the front.”
Assessing his first full campaign in World Superbikes after moving over from MotoGP last winter, Hayden feels he's made a strong transition and has a clear plan on how to challenge for the 2017 championship having fallen off the pace of the Kawasaki duo of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes as well as Ducati's Chaz Davies.
“There's not a strong link really between HRC and Ten Kate... I think it's pretty clear what we need; we need more acceleration, more torque and lighter,” he said. “The new bike's got some of that.
“The team just works, I really like the Ten Kate guys. They spend the money on the bikes. I fit in good there and I think some good results early in the season even helped motivate everybody more - which it does - and me and Mikey pushing each other.
“The engine's stronger, the other big thing is just stability in the chassis. The bike is moving less. Still probably the area where we want to improve a lot more, especially, is moving on angle. They did a great job and I'm very happy with the team, in the team. I'm very happy also that they gave me the 'ok' to come do these sorts of things [in MotoGP].”
Hayden will make his second appearance of 2016 in MotoGP having stepped in for Jack Miller at the Estrella Galicia Marc VDS Honda squad at Aragon where he finished in 15th place.