MotoGP: Nicky Hayden Struggles On Day One

Paul Carruthers | February 4, 2014

Photography By Gold & Goose
Nicky Hayden ended his first day of the 2014 MotoGP test in 17th place on his Open class Aspar Honda, the former World Champion coming to grips with riding the new bike after five years on the factory Ducati.

“We would have liked to have went quicker and been closer to the front,” Hayden said. “Of course there are a lot of good guys on fast bikes. We have improved the electronics a lot since Valencia, smoothing out some of the flat spots so that’s helped a lot, but we still need to improve power and acceleration. That’s our focus and tomorrow we have some stuff to try on the chassis.”

Since Hayden’s Honda is an Open class bike, the team has to use the spec electronics package and software provided by Dorna. When asked the difference over the full factory package he’d been using with Ducati, Hayden said: “Quite a lot. Your options are less. You can’t control every part of the track for engine braking, wheelie control. There’s a lot less things to do there. But this bike is so different it’s really hard to compare what is electronics and what is actual engine character and things like that.”

Although the bike lacks top speed and acceleration, Hayden ended day one pleased with how the new Honda production racer handles.

“We have to work on acceleration out of the slow corners, but I really like the way this bike handles,” he said. “The chassis is really stable over the bumps here. After testing a bunch of stuff we got the lap time down at the end of the day, but we know this is a completely new project and we have to work hard. We are a long way off the pace at the top, partly because this is such a long track and the difference is more exaggerated. But we will try to chip away and reduce the gap. Tomorrow we will work on finding a bit more grip in corner entry and a few other basic things to try and adapt more to the bike.”

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America’s Daily Motorcycle News Source.