The following is from a conference-call interview with Roger Lee Hayden put together by Miller Motorsports Park’s John Gardner…Good afternoon, everybody. This is John Gardner. I’m the media manager at Miller Motorsports Park, and this is the first of what we hope are going to be regular teleconferences with riders from the HANNspree Superbike World Championship.As you know, Miller Motorsports Park is hosting, for the third year, the Utah USA round of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship, and it will be held over Memorial Day Weekend, May 29-31, with the races themselves for Superbike and Supersport on Monday, May 31. This is going to be kind of unusual.Our first guest is Roger Lee Hayden of Owensboro, Kentucky, who is riding for the Pedercini Kawasaki Team this year. I think all of you know Roger. He was, to briefly recap, the 2007 AMA Supersport Champion. He did a number of years on AMA Superbikes. He raced here in 2007 and finished fourth and fifth in two Superbike races and fifth in the Supersport race. He was not here in 2008 because of injuries suffered at Barber Motorsports Park.So welcome, Roger. We’re glad to have you here. We’re looking forward to having you here in May.Roger Lee Hayden: All right. Thanks for having me.John Gardner: So tell us how this deal with Pedercini Kawasaki came about.Roger Lee Hayden: I went to Miller last year and talked to a bunch of teams, and my manager stayed in contact with everyone in World Superbike, and then Lucio contacted my manager, Chuck Aksland, around December 1, end of November, about riding for his team, but I already kind of verbally committed to a Moto2 Team. But that was kind of getting a little iffy, so they kind of gave us a deadline where they needed maybe to know so they could move on and find another rider. And the Moto2 thing fell through, and I ended up with Pedercini Kawasaki, which I’m really happy about.John Gardner: So you went to Portimao for the test last weekend and met everybody and saw everything. So what did you think and how did it go?Roger Lee Hayden: Well, it was, I was really surprised at the organization, how nice everyone was that actually worked at WSBK. I mean, I think everyone that worked there came by and looked me up to introduce themselves and told me welcome and if I needed anything, come talk to them. So it was pretty nice, kind of, compared to where I was coming from last year. It was kind of hard to talk to anybody.John Gardner: Yes, I understand.Roger Lee Hayden: And the test itself was, it went okay. I wish it would have went a little better, but the weather wasn’t all that good, so we lost that, really, about a day and a half of testing. But toward the end we started making some progress, so the track was a lot of fun. And getting used to the Pirelli tires was not a big problem, but they definitely have a little different feeling than the Dunlops did. But overall, I think for the first test, trying to get to know the team, but I don’t, they speak a little, a couple of guys speak English a little bit, and I speak zero Italian.John Gardner: Uh-huh.Roger Lee Hayden: So it was good to kind of dig down to that aspect.John Gardner: And the ones that speak English don’t speak Kentucky, right?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, that’s right. Our lingo was a little bit off.John Gardner: So how is the bike compared to other Kawasakis you’ve ridden in the past?Roger Lee Hayden: You know, they’re pretty much the same spot-on, to be honest with you. A few things were a little different, but some of the things I remember struggling with in the AMA when I rode the factory’s two bikes was kind of the same things here. So the bike kind of felt like all the other ones I’ve ever rode.John Gardner: So tell me, I assume when you come here at the end of May, we’re going to have a sizable contingent of folks from Kentucky here.Roger Lee Hayden: Yes, I would say so. I’m also….John Gardner: I know Nicky and Tommy are both off that weekend.Roger Lee Hayden: Yes, I know they’re already thinking about coming out and my mom and dad and a bunch of other buddies from back home, so it will be pretty, pretty exciting. Because I don’t think I’ve ever had anybody come to a race where it was just me racing. I’d do the racing with Tommy or we was all at Laguna Seca and all three of us were there. So that would be pretty, it would be pretty neat.John Gardner: So tell me your memories of racing here at Miller Motorsports Park. What do you think of the track and what do you think it’s going to be like in World Superbike?Roger Lee Hayden: You know, I don’t have a lot of experience on the track, but I loved it. You know, I mean it’s for sure the, probably the best track in America that I’ve rode on. And it’s just big, fast and flowing and the facility is just really nice. You know, the garages and all that. So I really love the track, especially like the first three corners are pretty like turn one, two, and three, they’re really fast and always, I went pretty good there on the two bikes, so I really liked it and it was safe. So it was definitely different than what we were used to racing the American tracks and had more of the world track feel to it.John Gardner: So, I mean, I think that this is the only track that you’re going to race on this year that you’ve ever raced on before, right?Roger Lee Hayden: Yes, that would be the only one that I’ve ever, that I’ve ever been to. So that will be nice, to go somewhere nice and not have to learn it completely.John Gardner: Yes. Does that concern you, having to learn all these new tracks?Roger Lee Hayden: A little bit. I mean, it’s definitely going to not be the easiest thing. But it’s going to be part of the learning curve, and I knew that before taking this gig. I considered that. You know, I mean I wish I knew every single track, but we’ve tested Portimao and then we will test at Valencia and Phillip Island, and for the first three races, I will test it before I actually race there.John Gardner: Okay. Well, I think we’re going to go ahead and open it up to the folks out there and let them fire away at you.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, no problem.Matthew Miles: Hi, Roger. This is Matthew Miles of Cycle World.Roger Lee Hayden: How’s it going?Matthew Miles: Good, good. Will you base yourself in the US or Europe for the season?Roger Lee Hayden: You know, right now I’m thinking about I’m most likely going to, when I go over for the race in Portugal, maybe go a week early. And I’m going to either stay in London or maybe in Italy until Salt Lake City. And then after that, each race we have like a month off, so it won’t be a problem traveling back and forth. So for those two months, I plan on staying for those races.Matthew Miles: And do you have, did you have any experience with the Pirelli tires prior to this recent test?Roger Lee Hayden: No, I’ve never rode Pirellis before. I’ve been on Dunlops, I believe, for the last probably 12 years, even before I turned professional and Dunlop was sponsoring me with tires.Matthew Miles: Any surprises?Roger Lee Hayden: You know, not really. I mean, it’s a, they were, they seemed pretty good. They weren’t no–I mean, they definitely have a little different feel to them, but nothing scary, and you know, I thought they were good.Matthew Miles: Thank you.Roger Lee Hayden: No problem.Laurel Allen: Hey, Roger.Roger Lee Hayden: Hey, how’s it going?Laurel Allen: Pretty good. So what are you going to say when people overseas ask what’s going on with the US series?Roger Lee Hayden: I would say it’s in a disaster right now, but I really don’t know what to say about it, because I don’t think anybody knows what’s going on.Laurel Allen: Uh-huh.Roger Lee Hayden: But I’ll just tell them how a new organization took it over and they tried to run it like a car series and pushed all the manufacturers out.Laurel Allen: Uh-huh. Okay. Do you have a strategy for approaching the next test? I mean, is there something specific that you plan on working on, or what do you, how are you thinking about it?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, the next test now we kind of, we kind of have an understanding and we had a little meeting the last night I was there on some things I want to get changed on the bike and then, and so my goal for the next test is to start pushing it a little bit from the get-go.Laurel Allen: Uh-huh.Roger Lee Hayden: And to try to–we’re working on some settings where we’re starting, where I was getting more comfortable on the bike, so we’re going to get those moved more in that direction. So my goal is just to get up to speed a lot faster than I did at Portimao. I kind of, it took me a little while to get up to speed. I’d been off the bike since New Jersey, so I was a little rusty.Laurel Allen: Right, right. Do you plan on taking anyone over with you, like a trainer or anything else when you go?Roger Lee Hayden: I don’t think so.Laurel Allen: Yeah. Okay.Roger Lee Hayden: Probably not. I mean, I’m sure my mom and dad will come to a couple of races, and Nicky might come to one when he’s over there. But besides that, I don’t really plan on, I don’t know anybody that wants to go over there for two months.Laurel Allen: Okay, thanks.Roger Lee Hayden: Uh-huh.Mike Quindazzi: Hey, Roger Lee. It’s Mike from Ultimate MotorCycling. How are you?Roger Lee Hayden: I’m doing good, thanks.Mike Quindazzi: So with this series, and you kind of alluded to it here, I think it’s maybe the first year in a while where kind of the three brothers are spread amongst three series–Nicky in MotoGP, Tommy back here in AMA, and you’re with World Superbike. How’s that going to be for the family, with everybody so spread out?Roger Lee Hayden: I think it’s going to be the hardest on my mom and dad, because some weekends–well, actually, a lot of weekends–me and Tommy was looking at the schedule last week right before I left, and we all three race in the same weekend. So they’re going to have their hands full trying to keep up with who’s doing what.And my dad just opened a new car lot and stuff, so they’re going to be pretty busy. And it’s, I think it will be exciting for all of us because we’re, nobody we’ve ever had the family has raced with World Superbike, so now they kind of know how that works out. And so it’s definitely going to be different. I mean, it was different whenever Nicky went to MotoGP. It was just me and Tommy. So now it will just be for me another adjustment, because I’ve always, if I needed something or had a problem, I always had an older brother to go to. Now I’m not going to have anybody, really.Mike Quindazzi: Right, exactly. As well, how do you, how are you lining up the competition for the coming year? I mean, I guess Americans have a lot of expectations for you.Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I mean a lot of people have high expectations. I mean, I have high expectations for myself, too, but I know World Superbike is not a easy, it’s not easy. The riders are all fast, and I think this year is one of the deepest, most competitive fields they’ve had in a long time with some guys coming back from MotoGP and stuff like that.So it’s definitely going to be hard and I don’t, I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself from the get-go, where if I don’t feel like I’m doing good enough where I get frustrated, and then it’s no fun and then it’s just going to get worse. So I just plan on, really, my goal is just to start getting a little bit faster and faster as the year goes on and just keep learning and improving. I mean, really, my goal by the end of the year is to be in the top ten.Mike Quindazzi: Thank you. And the last question, any lessons learned or relationships there with Ben where you could reach out to him and ask him how he made the transition into the series and kind of, it sounds like you’ve kind of made your first step. You went over there. You say you feel friendly, lots of people to talk to. I think that’s kind of what Ben said initially. People came over and introduced themselves and were real friendly and all that. Any lessons learned from him, or–?Roger Lee Hayden: Well, I mean, from what he did last year, just the way he kind of approached it with, he didn’t really change how he did it in America, you know. He knew what worked for him and he went over there. He went fast straight away and didn’t take any prisoners, kind of like he did here when he was racing with Mladin.So that, and also, he’s called where he called me and I’ve talked to him about the tires and different stuff and where he thinks I should live. And then he told me anything I need, just give him a shout. So that would be nice, too, because he did do the series last year and did a good job. So I can always call him and ask questions about Pirellis or anything.Mike Quindazzi: That’s all. Thanks so much for your time, Roger, and best wishes for 2010 for a great season.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thank you.Evan Williams: Rog, how are you doing?Roger Lee Hayden: I’m doing good.Evan Williams: Yeah. There’s a strong tradition of Americans in World Superbike. If you can, tell me what you think about World Superbike, have you followed it in the past, and what you’ve thought about it.Roger Lee Hayden: I’ve always been a huge fan of World Superbike, just ever since watching Fogarty and those guys battling it out, the two races a day. And it always looked like a fun series to be in. You know, it always looked competitive as well. But it’s something I’ve always had a lot of interest in.That’s why last year I went to the Miller to try to talk to some teams to get my foot in the door. So it’s definitely been something I’ve always wanted to do and always enjoyed and kept up with it every weekend and watched all the races on TV.So a lot of the, it’s kind of weird. Some of those guys I was a big fan of, like Haga. And I always pulled for him, even when he went to MotoGP and then back to World Superbike. And then the other day we were in testing. It was kind of weird at first whenever he went by me.Evan Williams: Yeah. You’re going to the only American in World Superbike this year. Is it kind of neat to be the guy that all the American fans are going to be rooting for?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, it is for sure, because you’re definitely going to have a lot of people pulling for you. But it also puts a lot of pressure on you, too, because you want to–you know, you want to do good for America and all the fans over here. You want to make them proud. Whenever they turn the TV on, you want to give them something to watch, not be discouraged because their guy’s doing bad.Evan Williams: Right. Yeah, you’re going to be on the Kawasaki again, as you mentioned earlier. Do you think that’s going to help you get your learning curve going up since you have experience with the bike?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I believe so, because I do kind of know how it works, and kind of like the settings that I liked with the Kawasaki, I kind of took over there with me. And also, the factory team is helping us out and want to help more. You know, anything that they learn or get that they think’s better, they’ll tell us or give it to us.Evan Williams: Yeah. You got any fishing spots scoped out yet over there?Roger Lee Hayden: No, not yet, but I’d like to find something to entertain myself, especially this place that they don’t speak English. But I don’t know. I haven’t got a look at that. Maybe I need, that’s what I need to find, a place while I’m there for two months that’s got a good little fishing spot.Evan Williams: Right, right. Well, best of luck and thanks a lot, Roger.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, no problem.Matthew Miles: Roger, can you describe your relationship with Kawasaki Japan?Roger Lee Hayden: I think it’s really good, because whenever, I’ve tested all their production motorcycles for the last four to five years before they came out, because they didn’t have a World Superbike team, and so we were kind of their main production team for their ZX6 and then ZX10. Every time they came out, I would always go to their test facility in Japan and ride the bikes and tell them what I thought, and I always kept a relationship with them. And then they even asked me to do the GP that time. And that went really well, too, because it was the first time they’ve ever had three riders in the top 10 to finish that race. So I have a really good relationship. I get along with them really well and even with my next steps, it seems like they want to support me in that, too.Matthew Miles: The current ZX10R is probably near the end of its life cycle. Do you expect much in the way of development this season?Roger Lee Hayden: Not a whole lot, but they definitely, I mean, we definitely want to develop it more because we want to do the best we can for Kawasaki and to learn for the next coming years. I mean, not that I’m going to, I might not be with them past this year, because it’s only a one-year deal. But Kawasaki definitely wants to win this year. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, they’re putting a lot of money and effort into their World Superbike program. So I don’t think that, I don’t think they’re going to slow down on the development.Matthew Miles: Okay, thank you.Roger Lee Hayden: I hope not, anyways.Julian Thomas: Hello, Roger, this is Julian Thomas, the Press Officer of Infront Motor Sports.Roger Lee Hayden: How’s it going?Julian Thomas: Very well, thanks. And you?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I’m not bad.Julian Thomas: Okay, I just wanted to say thank you very much for your kind words that you said about us at the start of the interview, and once again, a warm welcome onboard this year in World Superbike.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thanks, yeah, I appreciate it.Julian Thomas: And I think most of the gentlemen who have called in have already asked the questions that I had in mind, but I’ll throw one at you anyway. I just wondered if you, after the Portimao test, you’d set yourself a benchmark for the sort of result that you would be satisfied with this season.Roger Lee Hayden: I would like to start out around top 15, first couple of races, and then after, toward the end of the year, I’d like to be close to the top 10, if not in it, for sure.Julian Thomas: Okay, that sounds pretty good. I mean, there’s a lot of tough competition out there. I mean, as you’ve seen, the seven teams, the seven top teams are also the factory-supported, which means that the top 15, I wouldn’t say it’s exactly locked out, but it’s going to be tough for a top 15 place for a team that isn’t factory-supported. Do you agree with that?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I agree completely. And that’s why I believe it’s going to be hard to get top 15, so that’s why I kind of, that’s kind of what I believe that what we’re capable of doing and what I’m capable of, how I’m capable of doing right now. So I don’t want to set my expectations too high, but I don’t want to have them too low, either, so I have something to shoot for. But I know it’s not going to be easy to get top 15 at all.Julian Thomas: Okay, thank you very much, Roger, and I’ll see you down in Australia.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thanks, appreciate it.Evan Williams: Hey, Roger, you’ve always built close relationships with guys on your team, spent a lot of time with them away from the track. What’s your strategy for working with these Italian guys that maybe you don’t speak the same language right now?Roger Lee Hayden: It’s definitely a lot different. You know, for one, I mean, you can’t really, can’t really talk to them, because they don’t understand me and I don’t understand them except a couple of guys. But toward the end, we started gelling a little better and could kind of start to communicate. So I guess it’s going to be my goal to (inaudible) the beginning of the season just so we can all communicate a little better. But they’re real nice, you know. They’re so friendly and they’re just like, they’re there to please. You know, one night they were there until 2:30 in the morning working on bikes and they seem like really nice guys, all of them. They all get along. It’s just like a friendly little atmosphere.Evan Williams: Yes. You always had a real, a large fan base here. Are you looking forward to meeting some European fans and getting to experience that as well?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, definitely I’m excited to meet all the European fans, just because they’re motorcycle fanatics and kind of like myself. So it’ll be interesting to see. You always hear stories about different places where the fans do different things, and so I came late to see it and experience it all for myself.Evan Williams: Yeah. I know you’ve been to a lot of GPs over there, but have you ever been to a World Superbike race in Europe yet?Roger Lee Hayden: I’ve never been to a World Superbike race in Europe.Evan Williams: Yeah. Well, thanks a lot, Roger.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thanks.Evan Williams: Appreciate it.David Emmett: Hi, Roger, how are you doing?Roger Lee Hayden: I’m doing well.David Emmett: Very glad to hear it. Let’s see now, Ben Spies set the–well, he set a pretty high target to aim for, coming in last year and winning the championship. Does that intimidate you at all coming in?Roger Lee Hayden: No, not really, because I feel like we’re on two different kind of levels. I mean, he came in as World Superbike Champion a couple of years in a row and went straight to a factory team. So I think it’s definitely–for me, I don’t feel like I have to go there and win the title and win races my first year. So, I mean, it’s almost–I’m a realist, I guess. I know it’s going to be too far-fetched for me to even put myself in that category.David Emmett: And Kawasaki, over the past few years in World Superbikes, Kawasaki has not had a particularly successful run. How do you see that? I mean, is this, how do you view your year or how do you view Kawasaki and your year with the Pedercini this year?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, they definitely haven’t had the greatest run lately in World Superbike. But I also believe that comes down because they haven’t had a, really, a factory effort. And they’ve been pushing their MotoGP program and also put a lot of effort in the American series, where now they have all their efforts in one. You know, there’s no MotoGP team, no team in the US, so they’re all focused on the World Superbike program, and I think that’s going to help.David Emmett: Yes. So the loss of Kawasaki’s MotoGP effort and the fact that they’re only, they only have the one focus, that’s going to be a real advantage, is it?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I believe so, because Yoda, he came over from the MotoGP Team and a few other guys they have here at the tent, and they want to work with us, our team, too, in case we find anything out that they think might help them. So they definitely want to go. I mean, they’re pushing hard.David Emmett: Okay. And then one last thing. How are you going about learning the tracks?Roger Lee Hayden: I’m trying to watch the races on the video.David Emmett: Okay. You’re not playing the Xbox or anything like that?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I’ve got a PlayStation. I play some of the–or a PSP that I play some of the games or the tracks on, so I’ll probably do that, because I do like videogames and watching on video.David Emmett: Yeah. And then does playing on the PSP, how close is it? Does it at least teach you which way the track goes, or is it completely different on the bike?Roger Lee Hayden: You know, I mean, I know it’s going to be completely different than riding the bike, but I mean I kind of know–I mean, if I had to draw the track map right now, I think I could draw one of Phillip Island. And at least I’ll know where to time stuff in the first lap out. So I think it helps some for sure.David Emmett: Okay, well, one last question. Which track are you looking forward to most of all? Of the ones–obviously, apart from Miller, because we have to say that. But of the ones that you haven’t ridden on yet?Roger Lee Hayden: Well, Phillip Island, for one, because I’ve always heard so many good things about it. And also Assen, some places like that that have a lot of history and stuff. So I guess if I had to pick one, I’d say Phillip Island’s the one I’m most excited about.David Emmett: Okay. Okay, right. Thanks very much.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thanks.David Emmett: Good luck.Laurel Allen: Hey, Rog, how’s your hand?Roger Lee Hayden: The one with the pinky missing?Laurel Allen: Yeah, that one.Roger Lee Hayden: It’s pretty good. You know, it doesn’t really bother me anymore, and even riding, I’m pretty much, I don’t ever even notice it. Sometimes just little things that kind of bother me. I’ve changed the hand position on the bike because there’s no pinky there, so it kind of cocks my hand a little bit. But after a while I was getting blisters real bad because it was rubbing the hand and it’s never even got to grip before. But for the most part, I have no complaints about it. Whenever I ride, I never even notice it.Laurel Allen: So you feel like you’ve built up the strength in that just fine?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah. It took a while, I mean, pretty much, to get used to it. But I think now, I mean, it’s almost going to be two years before long, so I don’t really notice it.Laurel Allen: Great. Because there’s that hand guy, or the hand guy you said that they thought once you lost a pinky you never really could regain full strength, but it seems like you’re saying otherwise.Roger Lee Hayden: Well, I mean, I don’t think, it’s definitely not 100%, but I don’t think it bothers me on the bike or in real life too much. I mean, there’s a lot worse injuries out there, I believe.Laurel Allen: For sure. Okay, cool. Thanks.Roger Lee Hayden: Uh-huh.John Gardner: Roger, I’ve got a couple more questions for you.Roger Lee Hayden: All righty.John Gardner: Your hand, you say your hand’s good. How’s your overall condition? What kind of shape are you in? I mean, are you feeling good? You’re 100% or pretty close?Roger Lee Hayden: Yeah, I’m definitely as healthy as I’ve been in probably three or four years, I’d say, pretty close. I didn’t have any injuries last year, I didn’t have to have any end-of-the-season surgeries or nothing like that, so I definitely feel like my body is the best that it’s been in a long time. And as far as being in shape, I feel like I’m in the best shape that I’ve been in ever in my whole life. So as far as all that goes, physically and mentally, I feel like I might be the best ever. So I’m going to need it, because I’m taking another challenge, and it’s not going to be easy.John Gardner: No, it’s going to be a big one, that’s for sure. What kind of training are you doing now?Roger Lee Hayden: Cycling, running, and I go to the gym. I have a trainer. His name’s Aldon Baker.John Gardner: Oh yeah.Roger Lee Hayden: And he works with me and Tommy and Bubba Stewart. And he used to work with Ricky Carmichael, too, before he retired. So we’re out in California. He’s from Florida, but he’s actually out here with us right now and will be until my first race, just kind of getting ready, getting the final touches before the season. And also, I do a lot of Super Motard riding whenever I’m out here with my brothers. So I think that helps a lot, because I kind of, I drag my knees and, do it just like I ride a road race bike, so I think it helps.John Gardner: Did you get to meet your teammates or any other riders while you were over there? Any impressions there?Roger Lee Hayden: I don’t know, I don’t believe I’m going to have a teammate. The guy that rode there, I think, was just riding. But the test I was in, he was a nice guy. And also I did get to spend some time with Chris Vermeulen and Johnny Rea, and they were both super nice guys. And they seemed laid back and you could cut up with them. So they all, they all seemed pretty nice. I mean, even a couple of guys that I didn’t really even talk to, that I just shook hands with seemed nice, like Shakey Byrne and Troy Corser. So those are really the only, the only guys that I’ve seen, and everybody seemed really nice.John Gardner: Well, that’s good. What’s your travel schedule like? Now, where are you off to next?Roger Lee Hayden: I’m actually in California now until I go to Phillip Island. And then after Phillip Island, I’ll go back to Kentucky.John Gardner: And so you don’t have another test between now and Phillip Island?Roger Lee Hayden: No.John Gardner: Okay, and that’s the end of February, right?Roger Lee Hayden: Yes.John Gardner: Cool. Okay. That’s all I’ve got. And Devon, do we have anybody else or are we wrapped up?John Gardner: All right. Well, Roger, we appreciate it so much, and we look forward to having you here at Memorial Day, and we wish you all the luck in the world.Roger Lee Hayden: All right, thanks, I appreciate it. And also, I just want to thank everyone for all their support so far.John Gardner: Well, you go get them, man.Roger Lee Hayden: All righty.John Gardner: We’ll be pulling for you.Roger Lee Hayden: Thanks.John Gardner: Take care now.Roger Lee Hayden: Bye.