Nicky Hayden has come out in support of the controversial World Superbike race 2 grid formation shake-up and feels the paddock should give it a chance before dismissing the idea.
The Honda World Superbike rider initially voiced his support on social media at the announcement that the podium trio from race 1 would be rotated in a reversed order on row three (1st=9th, 2nd=8th and 3rd=7th) with race 1 finishers 4th-9th promoted to the front two rows.
In an exclusive interview with Crash.net
Hayden has compared the initial reaction to the qualifying changes seen in MotoGP with the Q1 and Q2 format and feels if it improves the show element of the series it must be supported.
“Let's wait and see. I don't want to say too much before we see how it works out. I think I'll just try them out before making a final judgment,” Hayden told Crash.net
. “Maybe as a pure racer I can't say I love those suggestions though, I grew up with the idea that if you qualified fastest then you should be on pole regardless.
“On the other hand I recognise that there's a business side to the sport and we need to entertain and honestly it could work out quite good from that point of view.
“People don't like change, I remember when we went to the new qualifying procedure in MotoGP people didn't like it but it seems to work OK. I think that people try to find reasons to back up their basic dislike of change and then go on a message board to spread it.”
Hayden, who is preparing for 2017 with the arrival of the new Honda Fireblade with Ten Kate Honda, used the example of Chaz Davies winning a handful of races last year despite qualifying on the second or third row to keep race 2 fresh.
The American rider says by also guaranteeing the second race won't be a complete repeat of the first will entice fans back to World Superbikes which is struggling with dwindling attendance and TV figures.
“There's a lot of logic to the idea,” he said. “You're not talking about moving guys to the back of the grid, it's only moving back a couple of rows and the races are long. We saw Chaz Davies win plenty of races from 6th or 7th so it's not the end of the world.
“It might just spice things up a bit and make people tune into race 2 knowing that they won't get a repeat of race 1. I'm excited to see how it it'll work out where you get a couple of different bikes in race 2. Maybe it doesn't reward performance as we see it now but it's really what the fans experience that counts, it's the fans that drive the show.”
Hayden will be joined by former MotoGP star Stefan Bradl at the Ten Kate Honda squad for 2017 as he looks to lead the team's charge against the recent domination by the factory Kawasaki and Ducati teams.