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Hayden looking forward to home Grand Prix

Hayden looking forward to home Grand Prix

Hayden looking forward to home Grand Prix

Nicky Hayden heads out to Malaysia for the next batch of HRC's preseason tests at Sepang this week in continued preparation for what could turn out to be the most important season of his life. Still to take his first victory in the MotoGP World Championship, Hayden is hoping 2005 can be his year of consolidation and would like nothing more than to taste the winner's champagne in his home round at Laguna Seca.

It's the first time a Grand Prix has been held at the Californian circuit in over ten years and, speaking from his home in Kentucky, Hayden explained its importance in general and his own personal feelings about a circuit he knows well from his days in the AMA Superbike Championship.

Q: Nicky, what's it going to mean to you to come back and race in America?

A: I'm super excited about coming back. It's going to be a big honor to race the GP here in my home country. I think the home fans here are hungry to finally have a GP.

Q: How about the decision to bring the U.S.G.P. back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?

A: I love Laguna. It's a great location for the fans and I've done well there in the past. If you're going to bring a lot of people from around the world to America you really couldn't pick a better place. I've heard a lot of work has gone into bringing the track up to MotoGP standards and hopefully all that work by Dorna and the track and everyone else involved will pay off.

Q: How strong is the support for an American round among the MotoGP regulars?

A: People are pumped about it. I think it's going to be a huge weekend. When I was in Malaysia it seems like the whole paddock is excited about coming to America. We go to a lot of countries that people don't look forward to going to I guess as much as America. There's a lot of racing history here and a lot of mystique about running at Laguna. This country has produced so many of the great riders over the years too. The mechanics and other riders stop me and want to know about Laguna and how far it is from different places. I think a lot of people plan on sticking around or coming early to do some sightseeing.

Q: Do you think America can match some of the other host countries of MotoGP in terms of general interest from racing fans and the media?

A: I think so. I've heard the ticket sales are already strong. People watch some of our national races on TV and think that there aren't many fans of motorcycle racing. I know sometimes television doesn't do it justice and I've told those guys [fellow MotoGP racers and team members] that some of the AMA races are pretty big. I think when they see the kind of crowd that shows up at Laguna that they'll know that we're into it just as much as most of the other countries we go to. Another thing that American fans should love is getting to see the GP bikes up close and in person for the first time. They're pretty trick and the sound, the acceleration and braking, everything makes these bikes really neat to watch.

Q: What do you think of the idea of combining a MotoGP with an AMA Superbike Championship round?

A: I think it's going to be good for the GP guys to get to see how strong AMA racing is firsthand. I mean they see it on TV, but they'll probably be surprised at how much talent there is in this country. And for the fans it's a win-win situation. With all the AMA classes they're definitely going to get their money's worth.

Q: Do you think the American riders will have a bit of an advantage at Laguna Seca since they've raced and tested there so often?

A: To be honest, with the level of the riders in MotoGP it won't take them long to learn the track. But maybe if it rains leading up to race day, that might give us a bit of an advantage. Laguna's not the easiest track to learn for sure and maybe a little bit of knowledge of the track will make a difference.

Q: Do you have any idea what the lap time difference between the GP bikes and the AMA Superbikes might be?

A: I'm not real sure to be straight up. Not a lot probably. I mean you know Laguna doesn't have a lot of long straightaways or anything like that where the horsepower is going to make a big difference. If I had to guess I would say a second and a half or maybe two seconds.

Q: When you found out Laguna Seca was going to be on the schedule did something in the back of your mind say that might be a good place to earn your first victory?

A: Well to be honest any place to get my first victory would be pretty incredible (laughs). There's going to be a lot of emotion for all the American riders racing a MotoGP in their home country. For me I'm going to have to put all that aside and go out and do my job.

MotoGP, 2005, Nicky Hayden

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