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Hayden also due for late engine decision

Hayden also due for late engine decision

Like his Repsol Honda colleague Dani Pedrosa, Nicky Hayden is also due to make a late decision on whether to run a pneumatic valve engine at the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya.

The 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden is looking forward to this weekend´s seventh MotoGP contest of the season in Barcelona, but he has an important decision to make first.

After a relatively successful Mugello race for HRC test rider Tadayuki Okada with an improved version of Honda´s pneumatic valve engine, the motor is now available for use by Hayden and teammate Dani Pedrosa in this weekend´s Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya.

Hayden has been more enthusiastic about the development than his colleague in the past, having had more test time on the new engine over the winter due to Pedrosa´s hand injury in January in Malaysia. But both riders were in agreement that it needed further work after they started the season with a new RC212V 2008 chassis and both the pneumatic valve and traditional spring valve engines available on race weekends.

Pedrosa this week confirmed to that a meeting would take place on Thursday as to whether to use the new engine over the Catalunya GP weekend, though it may still be decided that the safer option is to delay evaluation until the two-day post-race tests on Monday and Tuesday.

One option the factory Honda pair may choose would be to have one new engine and one traditional spring valve engine available as of Friday. Meanwhile, given Pedrosa´s current strong level of competitiveness he may choose to stick with his current package until he is certain the new motor can improve his results, whereas as Hayden may opt for a gamble on updated machinery after his modest start to the season.

The pneumatic valve engine has a 1000rpm higher rev ceiling than the current, conventional RC212V engine and therefore a better top-speed potential, but the riders need to be certain that it will work well with the rest of their race package.

Hayden is positive about the evolution of his 800cc prototype and comments, `The pneumatic engine is interesting, because for me the 2008 chassis works better with that engine, so hopefully it can be more than just a good engine for us. But we´ve got to check all the data before we make the decision.´

The American rider has some happy memories from previous visits to the Catalunya circuit, having finished second there in his championship-winning season two years ago.

Assessing the challenge ahead of him this weekend, he stated, `I quite like the track. If I had to play a videogame it might not be the first I´d choose but it would be somewhere near the top. There are a lot of corners where you´re on the side of the tyres for a long time so edge grip is really important, especially on the right side. It´s also important to have a bike that steers well and finishes the corner.´

`The electronics can come in quite handy, it´s a place where you can really use them to help the rear tyre. The last two corners are probably my favourites, they´re really important, you start dropping down that hill and you need to carry some momentum onto the main straightaway. And qualifying is really important because the first chicane is tight, so we´ll be looking to get in a good qualifying lap to give us a good grid position.´

MotoGP, 2008, GRAN PREMI CINZANO DE CATALUNYA, Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team

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