Nicky Hayden will start tomorrow’s Catalan Grand Prix from 16th on the grid with the American still hampered by a wrist injury. Having undergone surgery on his right wrist ten days ago the American is still short on full fitness but is eager to ride.
Speaking to the media after today’s qualifying session the 2006 World Champion assessed his qualifying effort:
“This morning we improved the bike and everything went a little better,” said Hayden. “The pace didn’t feel too bad but in FP4 we had some problems with one bike stopping and I had to switch bikes. I had been trying the 340mm brakes and we thought it might have been those [causing the problem] but it wasn’t so we had to change bikes. I didn’t get a good FP4 and that was a bummer because that’s the real race conditions.
“Qualifying, truthfully, was a little bit strange because we had spots of rain and at this track because it’s so big when you see the flags waving it’s hard to trust that it’s really raining or just spots of rain. I probably didn’t get the most out of the last qualifying time so I’m 16th.”
With rain forecast for tomorrow’s race the start of the first qualifying practice session saw spits of rain fall and while it largely didn’t affect the track Hayden admitted that it does affect riders and they try and trust the marshall flags with what the feel on the bike:
“On the track you don’t feel it at all. There was a few drops but at speed when they’re hitting your visor it’s a bit more! At a big track like this you have to trust the flags. After I stopped there were no more spots. It’s not so much that the rain distracts you but that you don’t know what’s around the corner, especially here at turns three and four where there’s blind corners.”
“I’m starting 16th so it wouldn’t hurt my feelings to do something different! We’re prepared for the dry but [racing without wet practice] isn’t easy but I’d take my chances! When you start in the back a little shake up isn’t so bad and as I said before in the rain our bike, with less power, should be more competitive. We know that our chassis handles well and in the rain you normally detune the electronics. It’s strange to be at the sixth race of the season and not really had any wet running.”
Hayden’s wrist injury has seen rumours spread about his future and the extent of his injury with concerns about whether he could recover to full fitness. When asked about this rumours Hayden dismissed them and rubbished any speculation relating to his long term health:
“Someone asked me that I laughed. I don’t know where the rumours come from, it seems that the press in MotoGP are getting worse and just saying ‘let’s start a rumour.’ There’s zero truth to it. My wrist isn’t perfect but I’m not ready to retire.”