Nicky Hayden has not enjoyed the best of fortune at the Circuit de Catalunya in the past, a solitary podium in his 2006 championship winning season, and the American admitted while speaking exclusively to Stephen English that it will be difficult for him to have a strong weekend at the Catalan Grand Prix.
“It’s been a difficult track for me, especially with the Ducati normally because it’s really hot here and our bike generally doesn’t work so well with hot temperatures so it hasn’t been great for me,” said Hayden before saying that it was related to chassis issues rather than tyre problems.
The “Kentucky Kid” also said that arm pump has been a problem at the track, with numerous high speed braking zones, and with the sun scorching Montmelo today and high temperatures expected all weekend it is clear that this will be a difficult race for Ducati who have had some improved performances of late particularly with Andrea Dovizioso qualifying on the front row at the last two races.
The development of the 2013 Ducati has been one of the more interesting aspects of their new approach to racing. With Michele Pirro employed as a full time test rider of the “laboratory” bike. The Italian has also raced as a stand in for Ben Spies in recent races but even so Hayden admitted that Ducati are disappointed with the development of the bike:
“If we’re honest we haven’t made as much of an improvement as we’d hoped,” admitted Hayden. “At the moment in terms of lap-time it’s very similar to the current bike. So I’d say that the truth is that we haven’t progressed as much as hoped.”
The purchase of Ducati by Audi last year caused ripples within the motorcycling community and while there have been changes seen at Ducati it is still very much a work in progress with the German owners looking to implement a process towards success, in a similar fashion to what they did in Sportscar Racing. For Hayden however it has been clear that there has been some changes even if it will be a long road to success for the Bologna team.
“There’s a lot of things changed. It’s different for sure but I can’t say that I’ve seen anything that makes me think ‘oh wow it’s a lot better now’ but it will take more time. At any level you’re not going to come in and change two things and bang be winning races. To catch up takes time and R&D.”
Of course with Hayden only having been offered a one year contract last year there are questions about his future but the American made it clear that his priority is stay in MotoGP with Ducati as he sees the potential of the bike:
“I love the team and I like Ducati and I think that eventually they’ll get it right and they’ll win so of course I’d like to be here for that. My plan is to stay in MotoGP.”