Photography by Gold & Goose
AUSTIN, TEXAS, APR. 21 – This morning’s warm-up session for this afternoon’s inaugural Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas will be an important session for Nicky Hayden as he tries to solve a front-end problem with the factory Ducati prior to the 2 p.m. start of the race.
Hayden didn’t have a good final qualifying session as he was forced to pit almost immediately in the 15-minute session when he noticed a vibration that ended up being tire related.
“I had some vibration again from the rear and it felt like the tire, even on the straightaway,” Hayden said. “So I came in and changed tires and it went away immediately. That wasn’t my only problem, of course, but it definitely didn’t help me start the session. I had ended free practice four with the same tire and had over race distance on it and did my best lap of the weekend. I felt more confident for the qualifying than that, but obviously not.”
Hayden ended up 10th and some 2.5 seconds off the best lap turned in by pole man Marc Marquez. This morning he hopes to get closer with some changes to the motorcycle he hopes will stop a front-end push, though it may end up being a compromise.
“We definitely are going to have to try something,” Hayden said. “I was closing the front a lot, especially in the esses before I even had my knee on the ground. When the front closes and you don’t even have your knee on the ground it just ruins… it’s hard to keep pushing. We have to change something there. We took some weight off the front and it helped. In qualifying we went a little bit more and must have gone too far.”
Hayden also thinks things might get a bit dicey in turn one, a first-gear left-hander preceded by a fast and wide run up the hill from the startline.
“Not so much the run up to it, but turn one in particular,” Hayden said when asked what problems the first corner could present. “It’s so slow. It’s wide on the entry, but at the apex there’s really only one line there and everybody’s going to be on the inside. First corners are always tight, but this one is going to be interesting. I’m not too worried about the run up to it because you can see it, but it’s going to get tight up there real quick.”