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Interview with Nicky Hayden

Interview with Nicky Hayden

Interview with Nicky Hayden

Finishing fifth in his first, 2003 season, eighth in 2004 and third in 2005, Nicky Hayden is facing his fourth MotoGP year with the added burden of a new bike development. Narrowly missing a second-place finish last year, he is well aware of the pressure he is under as team leader of the most successful MotoGP World Championship team. His first challenge is as developer of the Honda RC211V 2006, and a lot will be expected of him this season. In an extensive interview, Hayden gave his thoughts on the coming season.

Nicky, can you give us your opinion of these three days of testing in Sepang?

"It's been positive. After a two-month break these three days have been tough, both due to the heat and all the work we've done, but I've had a great time. I was looking forward to getting back into action and meet up with my team again. I made several laps and we've tried out a lot of things. I can say I've ridden fast, but still not fast enough. I've got to work on finding my pace, but I'm feeling fine and I'm satisfied with the work we've done."

What are your plans for the upcoming practice sessions in Australia?

"Basically, confirm that what went well for us in Sepang, like geometries and other stuff we've chosen, also works in Phillip Island."

There's been a new addition to the team. What will be his contribution and responsibility within the team structure?

"Yes, the new guy on my team this year, Ramón Aurín, was with the Honda Pons team until last year. He's in charge of data analysis - he's a telemetry expert who'll try to make me go faster. Nobody's been replaced; he's just another specialist who's joined the team. He's done a great job these days and already made some improvements."

The 2006 World Championship is starting in about two months and you're still working on this season's bike's settings and trying to decide how to proceed. Will there be enough time until the first race in Jerez to achieve the goals you've set for yourselves?

"This year the championship starts earlier than last year so we'll have one less training session; but there are still enough days and practices ahead. The IRTA practices have also been pushed up a couple of weeks. That puts time against us, so we have to get the most out of each and every day to be in tip-top shape for the first race."

How does it feel to carry all the burden of developing the RC211V 2006 yourself?

"This year I'm Honda's team leader and that carries a lot responsibility. We've tried out the new bike this week, but I've only taken it for 20 or 30 laps to break it in. I've been working and testing the factory bike almost all the time. We'll see what happens, but I trust my team and our potential to get to the first race with the right bike."

Fifth in 2003, eighth in 2004 and third in 2005. Will you be satisfied with a second-place win or do you firmly believe in going for the title?

"I'm looking forward to this year. I had a strong finish last year and hope to start this one off the same way. I've got lots of motivation and am ready to take the leap. I'm aware of how fast everyone else is going to go, how hard it is, and the new generation's potential, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."

There's been quite a generational relay in the MotoGP, and some of the most veteran riders have stepped down. Has the time come for young hopefuls to challenge the current World Champion Valentino Rossi?

"Rossi is still the rider to beat until someone proves otherwise. He's still a step ahead with his big number 1. He's going to set the pace. It's hard to say who else is going to be up there. There are a bunch of good riders and that's what makes MotoGP so great. It's the best competition in the world and it'll be even more interesting this year. I just have to worry about myself, not the rest, and do the best I can."

Every year at least one rider causes a sensation. Who do you think it will be this year?

"It's hard to say, but I'm sure my team mate Dani Pedrosa will do a great job. He's a great rider and has lots of talent, so I'm sure he'll teach them a trick or two."

Have you and Dani shared the track already?

"Not much, really. We still haven't ridden together, but I'm sure there will be lots of time for that."

MotoGP, 2006, Nicky Hayden

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