Hayden Struggles on Day One in the Desert

Henny Ray Abrams | April 10, 2009

This was not how Nicky Hayden wanted to begin his career with Ducati Marlboro.The 2006 MotoGP World Champion had one problem after another in Friday’s lone 45-minute session under the lights of the Losail International Circuit, site of Sunday’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix. It added up to a 13th place finish, 2.1 secs. off the class leading pace of teammate Casey Stoner.The problems began with a defective sensor on one of his two Ducati GP09’s, both of which were fitted with carbon fiber swingarms. Hayden tried to ride through it, only to realize  “the thing wouldn’t rev, but I stayed out a lap because sometimes these things, when you put in a new engine, it takes a while to run smooth. And then, well, I realized it wasn’t getting any better. So I came in and I went out on the other bike.”

Because his second bike had a different head angle and geometry, the plan was to only use it as a back-up. But it was rushed into service while they fixed his main bike, which he soon went back out on.”And, y’know, just kind of screwed up the session. One 45 minute session goes fast here when it’s a two-minute lap and going back and forth between bikes,” he said.The second problem was with the clutch. Hayden had been using a new clutch all winter, “but we’ve been having little bitty problems here and there. And finally after (the test last month at Jerez) they wanted me to go back to just the normal clutch and so that was really the first time I’ve ridden with that clutch since Valencia, so it also made things a little bit different.”Certainly not the smoothest first session and…they changed some plates in it after the first run and made it work more familiar. Certainly we got plenty of room, but we…y’know, I mean sure that front group is going really quick, but that next group I feel like I can make some progress pretty easy. They already seen a few things on the data, so looks at alright.”The plan for Saturday night’s practice and qualifying is “just need to get a few laps. Just get on a bike I know and just get a little bit, some running. Track actually came in quite good. I mean it was a little bit (dirty), but I’ve been here in a lot worse, but not too bad actually. I mean it was dirty, but we expected that.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.