Nicky Hayden Q&A InterviewWhen 2015 Grand Prix motorcycle racing begins, only one rider will represent America throughout all three classes – Nicky Hayden.
For the second-straight year, the 33-year-old Kentuckian will ride for the open-class Drive M7 Aspar team, which will use a new Honda RC213V-RS instead of the RCV1000R used in 2014. He also has a new teammate – Eugene Laverty.Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP Champion (Repsol Honda), will start the 2015 season after a difficult year. His best finish in 2014 MotoGP was eighth at the opening round in Qatar, and he was forced to miss four-consecutive races, including his “home” race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Hayden suffered DNSs at these races due to another round of surgery on his right wrist, which he first injured during crashes at Indy and Motorland Aragon in 2012. Since then, the injury had plagued him. He underwent mutliple surgeries, but still had issues.Hayden is back in Kentucky for the winter break, spending time with family for the holidays and allowing his wrist to further recover from surgery.Following is a Q&A interview with Hayden courtesy of MotoGP.com:Q. First things first – how is your hand and what are you doing to get it back to 100 percent?Nicky Hayden: I feel better every day. It wasn’t easy to get back on the bike after the type of surgery I went through. It was a serious operation, they had to remove three bones from my wrist. I was able to control the pain and ride again, even though I wasn’t back to my normal level, but gradually I recovered strength and feeling. It is good for me that the season is over because it’s a chance to continue the recovery. Since the end of the season I have been having injections of platelet-rich plasma. I have let my hand rest but I have also been doing a lot of work with the physio.Q. How have the new additions to your technical staff settled in? Are you happy?NH: I am really happy with the new additions. I have a new Crew Chief in Matthew [Casey] and new electronics and suspension technicians. We had chance to get to know each other at Valencia but we couldn’t get much work done because of the rain. At least we gathered a little experience with the new bike in the wet. I feel comfortable with the new members of the team, the communication is good and we understand each other well. There is good chemistry between us all and that makes me feel calm and confident. We have a lot of work ahead of us but the initial signs are good.Q. How about your new teammate? What do you think he can bring to the team?NH: I didn’t get much chance to talk to Eugene at Valencia but he seems like a normal kid, very focused on his job. He is coming from a successful career in World Superbikes so I think he will be competitive and I am sure he will adapt his style quickly to MotoGP. I’m also sure there will be a good relationship between the two of us, he comes from a racing family like me and he has two brothers who are both good riders too.Q. What are your first impressions of the Honda RC213V-RS after the Valencia test?NH: My first impressions were positive. Without doubt the biggest thing I noticed was the extra power, as well as the usual reliability and performance characteristics of a Honda. We were able to confirm the development that has been done with this bike so far and now we have to work on it more ourselves to understand it more and unlock its potential.Q. How much potential does this bike have?NH: We will see what level it is at when we ride alongside the others at Sepang. In the meantime I need to focus on returning to full fitness.Q. Do you think the “Open” bikes will be closer to the factory models this season?NH: Yes, I am sure we will be more competitive in 2015 than we were last season. There is still some development to be done with the electronics but I think we are on the right path. We had a great chassis last season but we were down on power.Q. What are the strong points of the Honda RC213V-RS?NH: The new Honda RC213V-RS has quite a lot of horsepower, which will help us close the gap to the guys at the front. Until we have had more time to test it I can’t really give much more of an opinion, but the first impression suggests that we have a solid base to work from.Q. The chassis of the Honda RC213V-RS seems promising…NH: Yes, the new chassis works really well, but so did the 2014 version. It has always been a strong point of the Honda.Q. New bike, new team-mate, new challenge for 2015… what are your objectives?NH: This will be my second season with the Drive M7 Aspar Team and my main objective is to enjoy riding again. I don’t want to talk about last season anymore, it’s over. I am focused on getting back to full fitness, riding like I know I can and getting some good results to put 2014 behind us. Right now I am the only American rider in the World Championship. That’s not a fact I like but it is my responsibility to represent my country until the next generation come through. Hopefully I can do the best job possible to make my people proud.Q. What are you plans for the winter break and the Christmas period?NH: Nothing special, just recovering and preparing for my return to action. I really enjoy Christmas, especially now that we have young kids in the family. We have a big family and even though we don’t organize anything special Christmas is always a special time. I want to thank my family, my team and my sponsors for the support they always give me. And I’d also like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.