Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden will roll out for first practice at the Catalunya Grand Prix on a radically different Ducati Desmosedici GP09 in a bid to get out of the doldrums that have kept him in the bottom half of the field all season.The Kentuckian has been well off the pace of teammate Casey Stoner, the World Championship leader, and nothing to this point has brought improvement. The team brought in a new crew chief at the previous race in Mugello, but to little affect.The biggest problem, he said, comes from the rear. The rear shock starts to pump and then it transfers to the front.”It’s when the rear breaks grip and then it hooks a bit and then the electrics start working and it gets bigger and bigger,” he said.”People thought – me too – my style would work so good with this bike,” Hayden said. “My style is really when I look loose on TV and sideways – it’s more the tires moving. More for a dirt track background. Where this bike it’s not the tire, it’s more the twitchy chassis shaking. That’s what’s throwing me off. That’s where I don’t feel so loose or so nervous.”Now Hayden will try something he’s never tried in a bid to revive his season and prove that Stoner isn’t the only one who can ride the GP09.”Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly not easy to be in the back and last, but that’s where we’re at at the moment and just keep pushing,” Hayden began. “That’s all I know. That’s what I was taught to do and that’s all I know how to do. I just keep doing that.”And, you know, Vito [Guareschi, the Ducati test riders] tried some stuff as far as geometry. And we’ve got one bike tomorrow, I’m not sure if it’s exactly the right thing to do, but I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s completely different. I think the only thing same on it’s going to be the handle grips, because it’s a lot of different position and stuff. Well, it’s got a different electronic just setting – the way it works. And also the ride position is going to… you know I’m struggling a lot to get the bike to turn, so it’s going to put me more on the front of the bike. With that, it’s got a different wheelbase, different geometry to get the weight more on the front, so that changes a lot of things to get that.”Prior to Hayden’s gathering with the media, Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi complained about a lack of feel in the front end. Hayden said that wasn’t his problem, that he could “feel the front, but I’m not getting it turned, especially in the long corners. I have to use the brake everywhere, stay on the brake, and when I get off the brake it runs wide.”And when he overlays his data with Stoner’s, he lamented that the “speed’s a lot different, unfortunately.”Hayden said he’s constantly being told to be more aggressive.” ‘You just got to be aggressive with this bike and do like Casey.’ Around the lap, my throttle percentage wide open is more than him,” Hayden said. “We come out of the corner and I get to wide open, not long before does, but a lot of places before him.”One thing is that people think he’s so aggressive… he just fights it and saws them bars. That’s not the case. He’s really smooth on it and with the throttle, especially – he knows how to control the pumping. Especially right before he gets to full throttle. He really works it and really has good feel for it. That’s one of the biggest differences.”
Hayden To Try “Different” Ducati
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.