Hayden raring to go for strong start to the season

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden emphasised his desire to start the 2013 strongly to make the most of the team’s new structure and direction, as he addressed the media at the team’s Wrooom event in Madonna di Campiglio.

Signed in 2013 on a one-year contract to make it his fifth year in Ducati, Hayden is looking to capitalize from the start on the new leadership from Bernhard Gobmeier and the yet-undisclosed technical plans for the coming season. The American commented: “I was in Bolognia in the past days. We don’t have a ‘new bike’ as such, it hasn’t changed a lot from last year, but we’re taking small steps. The engine rule is obviously a hindrance, but I see this year as a ‘fresh’ start.”

Hayden was one of the riders who made as much use as possible of testing opportunities at the end of 2013, well aware of what consequences a missed off-season can have. “The bike in Valencia was quite similar to the one during the season, and in Jerez we worked mainly on chassis. Now we’re looking to improve the test program and we have an extra test rider. We’re working on improving the engine management and generally make little steps.”

Prompted about his crew chief for this year the American said: “ I’m very happy that Juan Martínez is staying, I wouldn’t want to switch him for any crew chief in the paddock.” Asked whether he would be given more support by Ducati after Valentino Rossi’s departure, or whether he was in any way upset about the direction taken in the past few years, he commented that he had certainly not been neglected by Ducati during Rossi’s time, and that it may have yielded some positives, such as the speedy introduction of the aluminium chassis. Although he did say that “there might be a bit more focus on me”.

The issues with the bike he said remained pretty much the same after the final test of last year, having still not solved the turning problem, making lifting the bike up more tricky, and the throttle still being an issue when exiting slow corners. Yet with Dovizioso as his teammate and the management reshuffle, Hayden hopes to make an impact from the start, although was not able to disclose any bike details today.

He also commented briefly on the competition for this season, joking that he hopes Dani Pedrosa doesn’t continue his blistering pace from last year, and that he thinks Marc Márquez could be a threat from round one, sighting the Spanish youngster as a particular talent.

Having been dirt tracking over the Christmas period at his dad’s track in Kentucky, getting a good rest, and managing to stay injury free, Hayden appeared relaxed and said he was now looking forward to getting back on the bike in Sepang in a couple of week’s time.

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