Hayden Faces Uphill Battle in Home Race

Henny Ray Abrams | July 21, 2011

MONTEREY, CA, JULY 21 – Things are not well in the world of Ducati and Nicky Hayden isn’t afraid to admit it.On the eve of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend, Hayden said he’d gladly channel the magic of his back-to-back wins in 2005 and ’06, but admitted that “was a long time ago. But those were good days. So, obviously coming to Laguna for me is something I really enjoy. I like this track a lot, like everybody, and being at home at your home GP is something special. So that doesn’t mean you necessarily… don’t really make you go any faster.”Turning to the problems with both the Ducati Marlboro Desmosedici GP11 and GP11.1, which teammate Valentino Rossi has ridden in the last two races, and which Hayden has at his disposal this weekend, he said, “the team, it’s not an easy moment for us, I mean it’s obvious for everybody. But everybody at Ducati is really working hard and my team, my guys are really behind me and I still think we can do some good results this year.”On the outside, it’s easy to jump on people when they are down and kick ‘em when they’re down. But I stand behind this team. I mean, clearly they can’t work harder. They are doing the maximum and, yeah, sometimes unfortunately life don’t always go… it’s not a fairytale. It’s been tough for the team and sponsors, but really, the morale, I speak for my side of the garage; I mean I don’t feel anybody wanting to stay home on weekends. And sometimes being the underdog can be fun. So, hopefully, we just keep working and finding our way and hopefully the other guys don’t improve too much, because that’s what’s really made it hard on us. Some of the other guys are improving a lot and we’re not.”Asked where it went wrong Hayden answered with a question of his own.

“Where do we start? It’s not as easy at it looks. People at home, sometimes… we were joking, I had some fans say something to me last week, just being funny and my team said, from here, my crew chief said he didn’t see why I wasn’t doing 1:19s. He said from his chair it looked pretty easy. And I think a lot of people do that. Most things, when you watch on TV or standing up on the hill, look a lot easier, but when you actually get out there it’s not always so simple. So I do like this track but, I think a lot of people like it.”The fact that it’s a track that he likes doesn’t carry much weight, he said. “I’ve got some other tracks that I like too and have sucked at, so we’ll see. We got a good bike and really good team, so we’ll just get to work tomorrow morning. The problem is the gap to the front’s been so big this year, that’s what hurts the most. At times we’ve been so far away. So we’ve got a lot of work to do we know if we want to have any fun on Sunday. But we’ll go for it.”Hayden will have three bikes in his half of the garage this weekend, two GP11s and a GP11.1, which he’s yet to ride. He has tested it in its 1000cc version, the GP12. Rossi has had dismal results on the GP11.1, finishing sixth in Mugello and a season-worst ninth in Germany.”I have one of the new bikes, so thanks to Ducati for making it available to me,” Hayden said. “And I have two of my standard bikes which is kind of our plan, but we do have one of the new ones. At some stage we’ll definitely do some laps on and see what I think. Because there’s a few things about it that has definitely got some potential and it does some things better, clearly. But on the other hand we’re not here to test, it is a race, so we don’t want to confuse the issue too much. But again we want to give ourselves the best shot on Sunday to get a good result. And lately what we got’s not working, so it’s worth risking and trying to find something a little bit better and hopefully we can put up a lot better fight on Sunday than I’ve been able to do pretty much all year.”


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.