Nicky Hayden say his Ten Kate Honda squad has made a positive start to developing the new Fireblade into a World Superbike title contender but concedes they're further back than the timesheet indicated at Jerez.
The former MotoGP world champion has welcomed new team-mate Stefan Bradl into the Honda World Superbike squad as the pair got their first test with the race-specification CBR1000RR SP2 in the two-day Jerez test.
Hayden enjoyed untroubled testing by completing 103 laps with a best time of 1m 40.548s at Jerez – within a second of timesheet topper Jonathan Rea on the factory Kawasaki.
Having treated the opening day as a complete shakedown before moving on to performance tests with qualifying tyres, Hayden says his squad has a solid base platform to develop on but admits there is a long way to go until he can match his World Superbike rivals.
“It has been two useful days of testing here at Jerez and luckily the weather was on our side in the afternoons,” Hayden said. “The team has done a great job to put the bike together and bring it here, despite the short time they had available to prepare them.
“We've made a couple of steps but it's obvious we're still behind our competitors at the moment. There's still a lot of work to do and time to make up; when we used the qualifying tyre the time we set made us look closer than we actually are.
“We worked a lot on finding more grip and the bike ran smoothly without any glitch. The team has a little bit of time now to understand the data before Portimao.”