Hayden: 'Added Ducati feedback important'

Monday, 18 March 2013

Nicky Hayden has praised the amount of feedback Ducati will receive over the course of 2013, with a quartet of regular riders all able to report back. The 2006 World Champion is now looking to make up lost ground.

Ducati Team is yet to claim a world title since it first did so with Casey Stoner in 2007. Now heading into its first full season under Audi ownership, the outfit is headed up by German Bernard Gobmeier who replaces stalwart Filippo Preziosi.

"I would say that in past years Ducati has been pretty close with the satellite team and the engineers are the same," Hayden said during a Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference. "This year, all four bikes are full factory bikes and full factory efforts. We need that. The more data and feedback and the more different styles is going to be important and useful for the engineers."

At the same time, the American admits his frustration over not visiting last week’s private test at Circuit of the Americas – attended by rivals Honda and Yamaha.

"I love going to new tracks for the first time," he continued. "I was flying home from Germany and had a four-hour layover in Chicago, so I was killing time and reading up on what the guys had to say about the track. It was frustrating. Obviously I hated not being there and I hated giving those guys a big head-start."

Heading all three days in Texas was rookie Marc Márquez. Although off-season lap times are always joined by speculation, the Spaniard continues to excite.

"Well, it is impressive," Hayden admitted. "You don't need me to tell you that. I don't think anybody doubted that he was going to be fast after what we saw in 125 and Moto2. When you’re fast, you’re fast. I would say to be quite this quick - and so consistently quick - this early…it wasn't expected and for some of us riders we aren't so pumped on it. Honestly, I think we wanted to give him a little more time, and he is going to be exciting for the sport. He rides very hard and he is very hungry. You know, if he can stay healthy, he is really going to shake things up this season. So he is being very, very impressive and very fast, which is a bit of his own style. He could be a game-changer to MotoGP and all of road racing."

Hayden’s world title for Honda was the first for an American since Kenny Roberts Junior’s in 2000, although prior to that one had to look back to 1993 and Kevin Schwantz. In order to encourage a new breed of American riders, Hayden believes solid foundations must be put in place.

"In the early 80s and the 90s all the dirt trackers made the transition to 500," he recalls. "They were really suited to those, with the amount of power and their sliding - I think dirt track was the best training for that. Now the sport has changed a lot, with the electronics, the tyres and the way the four-strokes are ridden. In Spain, I would say the main thing they are doing so good is starting the kids so young. It doesn't matter if you are golfing, riding motorcycles or want to be a cook. It is a young man's game. The younger you start, the better you are. There are academies and schools, where they are starting these kids on road racing on real bikes and real competition at a young age. If America wants to catch up, that is what America is going to have to do. The age limit in America is a little different and it makes it a little bit harder (but) we need to follow those next steps and get some kids in a competitive series earlier, like the Rookies Cup in Europe. It has certainly helped."

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Hayden and fellow countryman Ben Spies (Pramac Racing Team) head to Circuit of the Americas in order to launch the Ducati 1199 Panigale R. Both riders will sample the Austin track for the first time.

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