The Kentucky Kid admits that preparing for the forthcoming campaign onboard the new 800cc RC212V following surgery at the end of last year has not been easy.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden will of course enter the new season as determined as ever to perform at the highest level, an attitude which led him to the title in the first place. But the Kentucky Kid admits that preparing for the forthcoming campaign onboard the new 800cc RC212V following surgery at the end of last year has not been easy.
Hayden's apparent problems with recuperating from his operation, the transition to a smaller bike and his difficulties in preseason tests, including a number of light crashes, have been well documented. That said Hayden is positive about his chances of defending the title which he prised from the grip of five-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and with the work ethic and mental strength the American possesses he is sure to be amongst the front runners again in 2007.
Following the culmination of official preseason testing at Jerez on Sunday the Repsol Honda rider's positive frame of mind was evident, which was perhaps unsurprising given that the last two days of the Official Test witnessed some of his best lap times of the winter...
How will the reigning World Champion arrive at the first round in Qatar?
"I'd like to arrive and say "Hey! I'm great, everything's perfect!", but it's been a very difficult preseason, first recovering from my shoulder surgery and then with the extra aspect of working on a completely new bike. Now I'm really looking forward to the start of the races."
Can you give a brief summary of what the 2007 preseason has been like for you, from Valencia after the Grand Prix to the end of the tests?
"There's been a big change since the end of the season. I tested the RC212V, I got the shoulder surgery and I started to work again. I've enjoyed riding the new 800cc more and more. I'm looking forward to the races and to see what happens in Qatar when the red lights go off."
Can you tell us about the development and the evolution of the new RC212V since the first time you got on the bike, until today?
"The bike has evolved a lot although there actually hasn't been any radical change. I think that now we're just riding a little different and the change is that now we know much better how to ride it. We will really discover it once the racing starts."
Do you feel that you have overcome the hardest moment of the season? I mean the tests in Qatar…
"Yes, I feel much better than what I did in Qatar. It was quite difficult, but this has never been an easy game. There are always hard days on your way and what we have to do is to raise our heads, think positive and continue fighting."
Inevitable question: your main rivals in the fight for the team will be….
"You know, there are no one-armed riders in MotoGP and this is a highly competitive paddock. This is something that people from outside do not always understand. But all of these guys are really tough. Looking back on these tests Dani and Valentino are obviously very strong. But you never know and any rider can give a surprise any Sunday."
Is this season's main objective to keep the number one?
"Of course. I did everything I could to get this number one and to keep it will be even harder. But, well, this is going to be my competition number and I will be very proud to carry this number one. What I want is to enjoy and that's what happens when I give my best. I'm a lucky guy because I'm getting paid to race on a motorbike, it could be something worse. In any case, what I have to do is to continue enjoying this year and to continue improving."
Have you really been able to have some rest since the end of last season? I mean, everybody is saying that it seems like the 2006 World Championship finished yesterday and we're just about to start again…
"Of course. It's time to start racing, I'm ready."
Interview courtesy of Repsol Honda team