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Hayden previews the Brickyard

Hayden previews the Brickyard

American Nicky Hayden participated in a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference ahead of the MotoGP race at the IMS circuit this weekend.

Talk about your anticipation for this, your home race, and how getting ready for this event is different than Laguna Seca or any other race on the MotoGP schedule.

This is definitely my home race. Laguna is great, and it's cool to be in America. At Indy, I just cross the state line, and I'm there. It's really like racing in my back yard. It's a track I like. I love the atmosphere there. It's the Brickyard. It's got a special mystique about it. A lot of racing has gone on over the years there. Looking forward to trying to have a good weekend. It's not exactly been an easy season for us, by any means. But as far as a buildup for this race, it's not like I can really say we're doing a whole lot different than any other weekend because we always to do the maximum. It is nice not to get the passport out and spend a day flying somewhere around the world. Just to jump in the car and head that way is pretty sweet.

You've had two podium finishes here, on two different bikes. The first year was on a Honda and in '09 on a Ducati. What about this circuit suits your style so well?

That first year was really big for me. I actually had broken my foot in the X Games and had missed the two races before, at the Czech Republic and Misano. I really went to Indy up against it. Was still on crutches. Was pretty quick all weekend. In the race, I got the lead for a while and ended up getting second. But I'm still a little bitter about that race because I led for a bit and had a good pace. But I probably had a little too soft of a rain tire on that day because our bike was working really good. We were going good until it started to rain again, and I had no tire left. The track had dried off. We burned up our rain tire, and it started raining again. Obviously, then the winds moved in, and they had to pull the plug. The second year there on the Ducati I got a pretty distant third. I had Dovizioso kind of breathing on me late, and it wasn't a gimme. Last year actually I qualified on the front row, but in the race I lost a knee slider. And in our sport, no knee slider on the left-hand side at a left-hand track makes for a long race. I'm looking forward to trying the new surface. It will be a little bit different this year, but it will be better. I know all the riders are excited about it.

You've kind of had an interesting opportunity, at least twice over the last four years, of being able to get on the IMS surface prior to the other racers arriving. Has anybody ever given you grief about it in the paddock, and does it give you any advantage?

The first year I got to ride the Indian around there, which really was one of my favorite moments from the Brickyard. If I could go there now and test with my race bike and my race team, it would be a nice advantage. Going there on a street bike, it was a nice 1198SP Ducati gave me. I had fun riding around, riding some wheelies. But it was more for show. Rode around with some onboard cameras on my bike, talked with some local press about what was going on. I can't say it was any big advantage. Nobody ever gives me grief. Racers know it's not something that's actually going to help. It's common for riders at their home country, before they race, go there and make some PR or something. A grand opening of a track or do something to generate some interest in their country or their area. The surface on a street bike seemed perfect, so I hope that's how it feels on a GP bike. The track should get better and better as the weekend goes on, and it gets cleaned up. I'm sure the lap times are going to improve. It should make for better racing here than in the past. I know all the riders were really pumped to see Indy repave it. We asked for a couple of corners that were getting bad, and Indy went and stepped up, way up, and had repaved from basically Turn 4 to the finish line. So it's going to be good.

Looking forward to next year and maybe the extra oomph that you might get out of the 1000, do you see that bike helping you out a bit or maybe even creating a bit of sideways excitement?

Yeah, I think the new rules are going to be a lot better for the riders, the fans. I think it's going to be a better show. It might not be quite back to the old days, say seven, eight years ago when the electronics weren’t so developed as far as making the bike look loose. Now they look tamer. From a distance and watching on TV, it looks easy. But a lot of things look easy from the couch watching on TV. I think the new rules are perfect. I hope it suits my style better. I've already had the chance to ride the new Ducati, next year's bike. We haven't been on the same track at the same time with our competitors, so we don't know exactly where we stand, but we've gotten a good start. The bike's got some good stuff about it. I'm looking forward to next year a lot.

With everything that has happened this year, are you more confident or less confident going into the 2012 season?

Until we really get on those bikes and really start testing them, we don't know what to expect. I'm excited. Uncertainty sometimes is exciting. I'm looking forward to it a lot. I think everybody is. It's just a new bike; it's a new fresh start. More power. Any rider, we like going fast. We like to be able to control the bike with the throttle and have that in our hand. I'm very much looking forward to it.

A home race like this has got to be daunting and exciting and overwhelming. You're four hours from home. What's it like inside your head?

They put a new bridge in, and it's closer than four hours now. Cut down on drive time for everybody. It's not hard to get up for any of these races. But certainly there's something extra, a track you like, a home, you can't really say you try any harder because you've got to try your hardest every week. But there is something. It's fun. Your brothers, sisters, everybody is there. I've got more friends and family probably coming than any year we've been to Indy yet, by a long way. Just try to enjoy it and use it. The excitement and somewhat pressure, sometimes it can work in your favor. I remember the first time we went to Laguna after being in MotoGP a few years, my first-ever home GP, man, I felt a lot of pressure going into that race because I really didn't know what to expect. Come home after it had been four or five years racing in America, and that worked out pretty good for me. A couple of other times, the big races have been good to me. So somehow I can turn it into a result on Sunday.

MotoGP, 2011, RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GRAND PRIX, Nicky Hayden, Ducati Team

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