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Nicky Hayden staying cool despite preseason pressure cooker

Nicky Hayden staying cool despite preseason pressure cooker

Nicky Hayden staying cool despite preseason pressure cooker

Nicky Hayden heads back to the USA this week for the Daytona bike week, hoping to enjoy some vital relaxation time ahead of the tense prologue to the MotoGP season at Catalunya in a little over ten days time. The 21 year old from Kentucky has endured an intense and at times lonely winter trying to get to grips with the RC211V, as he looks to live up to his billing as America´s hottest youngster and justify his place alongside World Champion Valentino Rossi in the dominant Repsol Honda squad. However, the 21 year old insists he is not feeling the pressure.

`The fact of knowing that I´m racing with the best team, the best bike and the best sponsor actually reduces the pressure,´ says Hayden. `I have a strong support and I feel very lucky about having this opportunity, but I don´t consider it a situation to put me under pressure, at least not in this first season. This bike is hard to ride, more than what I´m used to. It´s a new challenge for me; I´ll have to take my time to learn, but the bike is fantastic and very fast. It´s difficult to ride but nobody told me it would be easy.

After completing hundreds of kilometres on the RC211V at Sepang, Phillip Island and Suzuka, the reigning AMA Superbike Champion is under no illusions about the toughest aspects of his switch from national competition to the world´s premier class. `The circuits, of course. Here the circuits are new and much better than those I´m used to in the U.S. There are some good tracks over there but others are very dangerous. I also know that there will be hard times for me this year, it´s going to be tough but I try not to let it upset me. Besides, I love American food. Some of the European food I tried was good, but other... Some time ago I went to a restaurant in Valencia, I had a bite and then crossed the street to have something at McDonalds. But most of the food I´ve tried was very good, the fish for instance - much better than in the U.S.´

The affable Hayden is already a familiar face to a couple of the paddock regulars, and it seems he is already making friends with an important ally in his own garage. `I know John Hopkins a bit, but actually not too much; we met a lot when he was racing in the U.S. I also met Colin Edwards, but not much. I was in the same team as Kenny Roberts young brother Kurtis and I also know the family a bit. I met Rossi for the first time at the Valencia Grand Prix, he is very nice, and you´d say he has fun riding. I respect him very much, it´s an honour for me to be in his team. I´ve seen him riding and the truth is that can only say good things about him. I´ve also seen him many times on TV. No matter what he's riding: 125, 500... he knows how to win. Other riders are good as well, but they lack that ability to find the way to win at the end of the race.´

MotoGP, 2003, Nicky Hayden

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