Nicky Hayden Honda SBK Shakedown
Throughout the 2015 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, Nicky Hayden was the only American represented on the grid. But the 2006 MotoGP Champion’s time was up, and the 34-year-old Kentuckian departed from the series following the season finale at Valencia.
Hayden didn’t flee racing, though, and joined the Honda World Superbike Team. The “Kentucky Kid” was hard at work last week, completed a three-day test at the Jerez circuit in Spain. This was the final test ahead of the mandatory World Superbike winter testing ban that remains in affect until mid January.
Hayden put in 250 laps around the 2.748-mile Jerez circuit, evaluating multiple settings and parts on the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP, including new swingarms, and various settings of gearing, geometries, gearing and front fork and rear damper settings.
While getting a taste of the Pirelli qualifying tires, Hayden posted a best lap of 1:40.193, which was under the Jerez track record set in 2015 by Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes (1:40.292).
Speaking after the test, Nicky Hayden says: “We really must be thankful for the weather because, apart from temperatures a bit chilly in the morning, we had really great weather for three days; we needed it after missing so much time at MotorLand Aragon. We worked a lot in pretty much every area, because it’s still early days.
“We tested a lot of things and the team worked extremely hard over the three days changing wheelbase, gearing and more. They did a huge amount of work. Overall we take some positives out of this test. I had great fun on the qualifying tyre today and I was told my time would have been enough to be on pole position here two months ago. It’s clear that everybody has made a big step forward already so we still have a lot of work to do. But I’m happy and looking forward to everything, let’s see if we can keep going this way.”
Pieter Breddels, Honda World Superbike Team’s technical manager, says: “With Nicky everything went smooth, we did a lot of laps and went through a lot of things. I think we’ve made a good step forward. Today we tried some qualifying tires and the lap-time Nicky was able to set is promising. All the big teams were testing here so this has been a good benchmark for us and we’re very happy with how it went. We can now enter the winter break in a positive mood and we will keep working hard in order to be ready for the next test in January, when we will try new items and especially a new engine upgrade, which will soon be available to us.”