Former champion Nicky Hayden says he is looking forward to getting his 2014 MotoGP World Championship season underway with the Qatar Grand Prix, even if he admits he isn't as close to the front as he'd want to be.

The American switches to the rebranded M7 Drive Aspar team for 2014 and will ride Honda's much anticipated production racer, the RCV1000R, in the new Open class.

However, despite great anticipation over the bike, which has had input from retired champion Casey Stoner, Hayden has been particularly vocal about its modest competitiveness relative its rivals, in particular the Yamaha-based NGM Forward machines of Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards.

Indeed, though Hayden says he is having fun on the machine and is excited about a new era in his career, he says he had hoped to be quicker coming into the 2014 opener.

"Even though the last test went well and we made some important progress I honestly hoped we would be better prepared for the season and closer to the front by now. Anyway, in terms of the level of communication and the relationships in the team we are getting stronger and stronger. This will be my first race back on a Honda and my feeling with the chassis definitely helps, it's fun to ride.

"We are ready to start a new adventure and I am excited, looking forward to getting started. We know it won't be easy because there is a lot of strong competition but the simple fact that I am back in MotoGP for another season is a source of satisfaction and also motivation to do a good job.

"As a team we are hoping to get more and more competitive as the season progresses. Losail is not one of my favourite tracks but I like the feeling of racing under the lights."



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