Hayden Goes Big

Henny Ray Abrams | April 9, 2011

Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden got his first taste of the Desmosedici GP12, Ducati’s 2012 MotoGP weapon with the increased displacement that Hayden enjoyed during his best years in the MotoGP World Championship.With a wet track for most of the morning, Hayden got a late start at the Jerez circuit. But once he got on the 1000cc GP12 he wouldn’t get off. Starting at 1:00 p.m., Hayden made 61 laps of the same track where he’d finished third six days ago on the 800cc GP11. The Kentuckian was the last of the Ducati family to ride it, having followed test riders Franco Battaini and team manager Vitto Guareschi, who rode it just after the GP, and teammate Valentino Rossi, who rode it on Friday.The consensus opinion is that the increase from 800cc to 1000cc will not only attract more manufacturers, but make for better racing. Hayden won the final MotoGP World Championship of the 990cc era in 2006, after which he’s had less success. The clean sheet design GP12 should be a better tool than the GP11, which has been a difficult fit for most riders.

“When I woke up this morning, the sky was really gray and the track was completely wet,” Hayden said. “I was pretty disappointed. I didn’t think we’d be able to do anything because it wouldn’t have made sense to waste a day testing in those conditions.”The situation got better and better though, and after lunch I was able to put on my leathers. I couldn’t wait to ride, and it was worth the wait. It’s an honor to be able to participate in the first track test of the GP12 because it doesn’t happen very often that you get to ride a bike on the track for the first time: It’s a special feeling. Everything went well, and we didn’t have a single problem. The motor is really nice to use and I had a lot of fun riding the bike. I hope I gave some useful feedback to Filippo (Preziosi) and the boys. I know they’ll be working on this bike while we go back to focusing on the next race, because this season just started.”Ducati’s resident mechanical genius Filippo Preziosi designed the GP12 and was in Jerez throughout the extended test period. He said, “First of all, I’d like to thank everyone at Ducati, because thanks to their hard work and expertise, it was possible to carry out three days of trouble-free testing and complete nearly a thousand kilometers with the GP12 in its track debut. Having received consistent feedback about the bike from four different riders puts us in a position to efficiently continue the development process, because we can prioritize the work we have left to carry out.”With the April 17 Japanese Grand Prix postponed to October, Hayden has a few more weeks at home before returning to Europe for the May 1 Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.A video of Hayden’s test day can be viewed here


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.