On the surface finishing the opening day of practice in 12th position should have given Nicky Hayden plenty of headaches but when the American met the media following FP2 he was in a positive frame of mind and looking forward to the weekend.
Even though he was 1.2s off the pace Hayden felt that mistakes on his final stint in FP2 had cost him half a second and that he was much more competitive than what the final timesheet reflected:
“This morning wasn’t so bad but in the afternoon I wasn’t able to improve my lap time,” said Hayden. “I’m not happy because on my lap exit I made a few mistakes but my ideal lap time was half a second faster so I’m confident that we can improve for tomorrow. I wish that we could do FP3 right now but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow! We’ll work on the change of direction in FP3 because the bike is really heavy and in turns one, two and three I’m losing a lot of time.”
Hayden was not alone to be struggling with turn in during the first sector of the lap with numerous riders running wide or cutting the opening chicane. Ducati also brought a new exhaust to this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix which Hayden used for the first time this morning:
“I’ve got the new exhaust but it’s not a big improvement. The sound is different but it’s an evolution so I don’t feel a big difference from it. I liked it and I’ll continue using it but today was my first time running it.”
This will be the last time that Hayden races in front of an Italian crowd as a factory Ducati MotoGP rider but having tested the Ducati World Superbike it is clear that there are still possibilities of remaining with the factory in 2014. Hayden went into detail about his experience on the Panigale:
“It’s a long time since I rode a Superbike and I’ve not got a lot to compare it to. It was fun and Superbikes aren’t my first priority for next year but I’ve talked to Ducati about trying it and it was a good experience and I’m glad that I did it. There weren’t other Superbikes there so it’s hard to compare stuff but it does something’s well like turning. The bike moves more in the rear and in the front even though the feeling was different but not as much as I expected.”
Another opportunity is with Aprilia and Hayden admitted afterwards that when he visited their Noale factory he spoke about both World Superbikes and also their ART programme.