Nicky Hayden Makes Time, Needs More

Henny Ray Abrams | February 6, 2013
Nicky Hayden running out of time at the Sepang MotoGP test.  Photography Courtesy of Ducati Corse

Photography Courtesy of Ducati Corse

SEPANG, MALAYSIA, FEB 6 – “Nothing spectacular,” was how Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden answered when asked about his second day of MotoGP testing at the Sepang International Circuit.

Hayden closed the gap to pace-setter Dani Pedrosa and his Repsol Honda, but it still remains at 1.561 of a second after two days of pre-season testing in Malaysia. Hayden was, as always, the best of the Ducatis, a distinction in which he takes little solace. Closing the gap to the fastest riders is what he’s working towards, but the progress isn’t coming fast enough, nor is that likely to change on Thursday, the last day of the test.

“Obviously, it’s not like we’re going to show up and find three seconds in one day,” Hayden said just inside the Ducati garage as a light rain fell at the end of the day. “But we did cut the gap down from yesterday from two seconds to a second and a half, and found a little bit better rhythm. So a couple little encouraging things. But it’s just tough when you’re so far away to look for small stuff. So we gotta lot of work to do and definitely need to improve in pretty much all areas. So hopefully tomorrow’ll be a little better and try to when we come back here in two weeks maybe have something that’ll help us do a big step.”

The Ducati garage was bustling with activity-one mechanic was carrying a bare chassis-while many of the other teams had packed up for the day. The process of improving the recalcitrant Desmosedici isn’t coming fast enough, though the team had said it would take time. Both Hayden and teammate Andrea Dovizioso echoed the same line, that everything needed to be improved, something Hayden has been saying for over two years now.

“Pretty much everywhere” is where Hayden needed to find improvement, he said. “I mean, our straight line braking is good. It’s always been pretty good. We’re pretty good, stable on the brakes. But, you know, from corner entry, and obviously we need to improve the turning and acceleration.

Hayden has been using an updated chassis since the Valencia test, and also at the Jerez post-season test. He tested it back to back with another chassis in Sepang and found that the lap time was about the same, but that he felt more comfortable on the new chassis.

When the afternoon rains sent everyone back into the garage, Hayden took the opportunity to get in some wet weather testing. As troublesome as the Ducati Desmosedici GP13 has been in the dry, it’s the opposite in the wet. Hayden went out to check a couple of things and ran into fuel delivery issues, which might not have shown up until the start of Thursday testing.

Said Hayden, “We went out in the rain today to check a couple of things and good thing we did, because I had a lot of problems with the fuel injection or whatever. We’re not even sure what. At the extra low rpm I couldn’t even ride the bike, so we had a big problem there and need to understand what was going on, so was impossible.”



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.