Hayden Talks Ducati MotoGP Development, COTA

Ducati Team's Nicky Hayden
Ducati Team's Nicky Hayden
Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden

2013 Nicky Hayden Interview

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will hold the Red Bull Indianapolis GP Agu. 16-18, held a teleconference Monday with Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden.

During the interview, the 2006 MotoGP Champion discussed the amount of feedback Ducati will receive throughout 2013, the new Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Americans in MotoGP.

Ducati has clearly struggled throughout the past few years, the Italian manufacturer’s last title arriving in 2007 with Casey Stoner at the controls of the Desmosedici. Even nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi suffered two sour years aboard the Ducati, but 2013 starts a new year.

There are many changes: this will be the first full season under Audi ownership; former BMW race director Bernard Gobmeier replaces Filippo Preziosil as Ducati Corse General Manager, and the Pramac Ducati satellite team will receive full factory efforts.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati MotoGP GP13) says: “I would say that in past years Ducati has been pretty close with the satellite team and the engineers are the same. This year, all four bikes are full factory bikes and full factory efforts. We need that. The more data and feedback and the more different styles is going to be important and useful for the engineers.”

The Kentuckian then discussed his frustration over not participating in the private testing with Yamaha and Honda at the Circuit of the Americas, which was led by Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.

Nicky Hayden says: “I love going to new tracks for the first time. I was flying home from Germany and had a four-hour layover in Chicago, so I was killing time and reading up on what the guys had to say about the track. It was frustrating. Obviously I hated not being there and I hated giving those guys a big head-start.”

During the testing, Marquez led all three days: “Well, it is impressive. You don’t need me to tell you that. I don’t think anybody doubted that he was going to be fast after what we saw in 125 and Moto2. When you’re fast, you’re fast. I would say to be quite this quick – and so consistently quick – this early…it wasn’t expected and for some of us riders we aren’t so pumped on it. Honestly, I think we wanted to give him a little more time, and he is going to be exciting for the sport. He rides very hard and he is very hungry. You know, if he can stay healthy, he is really going to shake things up this season. So he is being very, very impressive and very fast, which is a bit of his own style. He could be a game-changer to MotoGP and all of road racing.”

Hayden then discussed Americans in MotoGP. Before Hayden’s 2006 title with Repsol Honda, Kenny Roberts Jr. took one in 2000, and prior to that Kevin Schwantz back in 1993. Hayden believes in the foundations of MotoGP riders.

Nicky Hayden says: “In the early 80s and the 90s all the dirt trackers made the transition to 500. They were really suited to those, with the amount of power and their sliding – I think dirt track was the best training for that. Now the sport has changed a lot, with the electronics, the tires and the way the four-strokes are ridden.

“In Spain, I would say the main thing they are doing so good is starting the kids so young. It doesn’t matter if you are golfing, riding motorcycles or want to be a cook. It is a young man’s game. The younger you start, the better you are. There are academies and schools, where they are starting these kids on road racing on real bikes and real competition at a young age. If America wants to catch up, that is what America is going to have to do. The age limit in America is a little different and it makes it a little bit harder (but) we need to follow those next steps and get some kids in a competitive series earlier, like the Rookies Cup in Europe. It has certainly helped.”

Hayden and Pramac Ignite Ducati’s Ben Spies are currently at the Circuit of the Americas, helping the Italian manufacturer launch the 1199 Panigale R. This will be the first time both riders will ride the Austin circuit.