Hayden: It’s All Good

Michael Scott | March 31, 2009

Nicky Hayden has conquered his worst fears, that his move to Ducati would follow the same disastrous path of his immediate predecessor Marco Melandri. But he is finding the Italian V-four very different from his previous Honda.”I was somewhat nervous that it would be a complete disaster, but at least for me that’s not the case,” he said.But he was finding the machine very sensitive to settings and less predictable than the Honda.”The bike always feels different,” Hayden said at the Jerez test this past weekend. “Just one click of setting changes and it could be a different bike. Another thing is that the carburetion adjusts itself constantly, so one lap doesn’t feel exactly the same as another. It’s taking time to get used to it.”Casey Stoner agreed with his analysis, up to a point. The Australian frequently said last year, commenting on Melandri’s back-of-the-grid problems: “You have to get the settings right, then the bike is fine. It’s not a one-rider bike.”At Jerez, Stoner enlarged on the point.”You can push the Ducati very hard, but if the settings are not right, it can be a disaster – really difficult. Like yesterday, we were a little off, but working through we found a better direction and it made a big difference. Sometimes it is extremely sensitive – one click can make a big difference. Other times it’s not like that. This year’s bike is a little bit better in that way.”Hayden put his heart in his mouth and almost his balls to the wall during the timed session, with an epic save after hitting a white line and almost falling before running into the gravel. There he only just managed to avoid crashing, narrowly getting the bike turned enough to run alongside the barrier rather than hitting it.It was on a flat-out-in-third-gear corner, where he said, “I’d been running over the white line all the time. But there was a couple of spots of rain and I was going a little faster. I so nearly crashed – my elbow hit the ground. After that, it was all instinct.”Hayden ended the test with the 11th best MotoGP time.

Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor

Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.