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Moving to Marlboro Ducati for the 2009 season Nicky Hayden is buzzing with excitement about the chance to recapture his former competitiveness with his new team.
Understandably enthusiastic about his headline-grabbing move to the factory Ducati team for the forthcoming season the 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden was in good spirits when he spoke to motogp.com about the new chapter in his career.
With time for an in-depth interview at the annual Ducati Wrooom pre-season get together Hayden thanked the Italian company for giving him a chance to ride alongside his successor as MotoGP title winner, Casey Stoner, but also praised Honda for the support they have shown him over the years – despite some momentary ill-feeling in the Repsol Honda pit-box last season.
Hayden singled out Ducati´s MotoGP Project Director Livio Suppo for special thanks, stating, `They have shown a lot of faith in me, the people at Marlboro and everybody at Ducati, especially Livio. He pushed hard to get me in this team and I am very grateful. So I don´t want to make them look silly, I want to make them look smart and do a good job.´
On his departure from Honda he added, `Things did get a little bit sore there last year with the team, but in the end I did leave Honda on good terms and I am proud of that after nine years with them. In particular the people at American Honda and I am thankful to my mechanics, because everybody on my side of the garage worked really hard for me.´
Much has been made of Hayden´s good friendship with new colleague Stoner with whom he anticipates a good working relationship. The American commented on working with Stoner, `In this sport you have to row your own boat. We will go our separate ways on a lot of settings, but now with limited test time and things we are doing to try and save budget I think it is better to work together. Sure we will want to beat each other and to beat Casey here would be a big feeling.´
`At the moment he is hurt and can´t test, though I am sure through the year I will be able to bounce some ideas off him to make a stronger team.´
Giving his opinion on the Desmosedici Hayden is pleased with what he has experienced of the GP9 so far, although he acknowledges that previous incarnations of the bike have been hard to handle for some of his Ducati predecessors.
`The bike is amazing, the engine is really strong, the front end has a great feeling and it is very stable on the fast corners,´ he enthused, before admitting, `It is not an easy bike, I´m not going to lie, it is quite challenging. But this sport is not easy! I quite like the bike and I already realise that I need to be going faster on it. There have been some great riders who have struggled with it and to be honest I was nervous before I signed that contract, I was thinking this could be really good or it could have been a disaster. So far it has gone better than I expected.´
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