VALENCIA, SPAIN, NOV 9 – Nicky Hayden and new teammate Valentino Rossi spent the first of two days of testing trying to pick an engine. The choice for 2011 is the big bang or screamer firing order and both were put into service. Hayden was faster on the big bang, but liked the screamer, and said there was more work to do before making a decision.”We haven’t just jumped to conclusions and figured out which we’re going to run yet,” he said at the end of a cold and windy day in Valencia, Spain. “But overall it was a positive day. I didn’t go as fast as I would’ve liked. It would’ve nice to be a little bit quicker, but today was just about data and getting a comment working with the guys. The day flew by. Would’ve been nice to do some more laps, but overall we got our start this morning and got a lot of work to do between now and Qatar, but looking forward to it.”Hayden said that if he was “racing tomorrow we’d choose big bang, because obviously I’ve been riding it all year. I’m a bit more comfortable on it. Though the screamer I enjoyed riding a lot. Was, the sound was amazing. I mean, probably the best sounding bike I’ve ever ridden. And the feeling, when you open the throttle it had some drive and was really responsive. I enjoyed riding it a lot, but it was a bit aggressive.”You know, around here, you have extra power, but you can really only use it on the front straightaway. Those other straightaways are just long enough to really feel it starting to kick in and then you have to shut it down for the corner. So wasn’t maybe the greatest track for it. But I felt better with big bang today, was faster with it and more consistent. So we check the data tonight and certainly have some team meetings, but I would say at this moment I’m more confident, more comfortable on the big bang.”With the 2011 engine they “found something. It’s certainly revised and improved and more reliable and it’s not a new, so to speak, but it’s the same engine, just revised.” When Hayden’s bike came in on the crash truck, it was assumed he’d crashed, but he hadn’t. “No I didn’t crash. My first stint something happened and I broke. I didn’t get four corners and something in the fuel sensor and it just shut it down so I had to catch a ride in.”Hayden only spoke with Rossi in the morning, before they both got down to business. Hayden was amused at the media circus surrounding Rossi’s first day at Ducati. Media members hung around the Ducati pit for close to two and a half hours waiting for the track to dry and Rossi to emerge. He finally went out around 12:30 p.m.”I got a laugh out of that, but once we got down to business I didn’t really notice too much happening,” he said. “There wasn’t really any difference last time we were teammates. He was a superstar then and still is. Once it’s time to get going, I don’t really notice that.”Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was fast today, followed by Casey Stoner in his Honda return and Ben Spies, now on a factory Yamaha. Stoner’s speed didn’t surprise Hayden.”I mean, that was just Casey; he’s got unbelievable feel to get up to speed,” he said. “So I’m not cutting him down to say I’m underestimating, but I’d expected him to be fast. I remember the first time he got on the 990 here he was on pace by the end of the first exit, so, yeah, I’m not surprised at all. I mean I expected it. we talked about how long it would take him to get into the 32’s.”Hayden repeated that today wasn’t about chasing lap times, but information. And racing won’t be any harder next year than this was. “Every year this is the hardest, this is the hardest year yet, so I don’t see it being any harder next year.” Then he made an interesting observation: From 800’s there’s only been four guys to win dry races,” Stoner, Rossi, Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.Now Hayden expects himself to be in the mix.”That’s the goal,” he said. “I expect Valentino to be fighting for, I mean I’ve said from the beginning I think he can win on the Ducati and I’ll be surprised if he’s not fighting for victories, Spies also. So never sleep on anybody. Simoncelli’s certainly making a case to put his name in that hat.
Nicky Hayden Choosing Engine for 2011
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.