PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, OCT 15 – Doohan Corner, the first turn at the majestic Phillip Island circuit, is usually taken in third gear at about 80 mph. But today, with the wind blowing riders across the track, it was one of the most dangerous stretches of the 2.76-mile track high above the Bass Straits.”I mean, normally the wind can move you about a foot, but it would move you over here to that wall,” about eight feet away,” Hayden said, pointing to a spot in his paddock riders’ cabin just past where his father, Earl, was freshening up his Ducati red leathers. “I mean, I was leaving plenty of room on the outside there if you’d get a gust. I mean, it was a gusting wind too. One thing, a little bit of wind ain’t too bad, but when it’s gusty, it’s unpredictable.”The wind was one of the conditions making for a miserable day on the island. Rain was another, as were lowering temperatures. And with the wind came a drying track, which didn’t give riders time to get good data in any consistent condition.”I mean, the wind, for me, personally was brutal, especially in the beginning,” Hayden said after finishing the day with the third fastest time behind Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner. “So fast around here. The wind was making it really, really tough.”But first run didn’t go too great, but we came in put in some different springs in and changed the position a little bit and was able to get it to steer better and keep the weight on the front so the wind wasn’t bothering me. And got into a pretty decent rhythm right before the track kinda dried out too much for the wet tires. The bike felt quite good in the wet. We know our bike normally works good in the wet and we were in the top three, but my average top five was really consistent and had it pretty good. So the bike’s good, it’s a good start.”Could be a bunch of work all for absolutely nothing if it’s dry the rest of the weekend, but you never know, especially here, what you’re going to get on Sunday, so you’ve got to take advantage of everything and be ready for anything. And even if something happens, that rain experience and information can also one day down the road, you know, it’s something, when it does rain it could help us. So it wasn’t just a complete waste.”Teammate Stoner disagreed, to a point. He said the final ten minutes were a complete waste of time”Yeah, I came in with about ten minutes to go because it was so windy when it stopped raining,” Hayden said. “Three or four of the corners were dry as a bone. I came in with about ten minutes to go because there was a few places still kinda wet, but there was no rubber left on the tires.”Stoner said the track’s three right-handers were a problem, but Hayden wasn’t as bothered.”The Bridgestone rain tire here they brought us is on the borderline soft, but here in the cold, I’d rather it be a little bit too soft than too hard, so I didn’t really… I mean wasn’t great on the rights,” he said. “Only three right-handers. But wasn’t like, sometimes you can go out with a tire here and can’t even ride in the right-handers.”Like every other rider, the notion of moving the date appealed to Hayden, and not just for selfish reasons.”You know, it definitely takes away from the fans,” he said lauding the locals. “I mean, there’s some troopers. These may be the most hard core fans on the whole circuit. They beat me to the track this morning in the pouring rain and I normally get here pretty early and they were already lined up. So we go to some places with some pretty hard core fans, but them guys out there in tents since yesterday, I’m not sure we got any more bigger troopers than what these people are.”
Nicky Gets Blown Around
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.