Nicky Hayden SBK News
The sole American in 2016 World Superbike had mixed performances at round two of the 2016 World Superbike Championship in Thailand.
The 2006 MotoGP Champion, who retired from GP racing after 12 years (seven with Honda, five with Ducati), suffered a DNF Saturday during race one at Chang International Circuit, but returned with a fifth Sunday.
Hayden qualified his Honda World Superbike CBR1000RR SP Fireblade eighth on the grid, and was battling with the front runners during race one before experience technical issues on lap 11 of 20. During race two, Hayden battled with the Yamaha WorldSBK Team duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes, and beat both riders to fifth.
He finished just behind his teammate Michael van der Mark, who was the pole sitter and finished third in race one. Earning the wins over the weekend were Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea (race one) and teammate Tom Sykes (race two).
Following race two at Thailand SBK, the 34-year-old Hayden said: “I must say that the bike felt a lot better today. We made a lot of changes overnight and I simply just felt more comfortable, maybe not perfect but surely the improvement was there and was quite a good one. I was able to ride without making mistakes and the bike was perfectly smooth.
“I didn’t get the best of starts and was not fast enough in the first laps to be aggressive and make passes. As the laps went by I felt more and more comfortable; towards the end I started to set my fastest laps of the race and this is very positive. I would lie if I didn’t say that after the warm up I thought I could have put up a better fight, but nonetheless I learned a lot again and overall it was a good weekend.”
Honda World Superbike Technical Manager Pieter Breddels also commented: “We made some adjustments to Nicky’s bike settings during the warm up and, given the good results, we decided to keep them for the race. He had a fairly good start and rode comfortably behind the Yamahas in the opening laps. When he got past them he was able to lap considerably faster, and towards the end of the race he was really strong. His fifth place has to be considered as a positive result, he is learning more and more about the bike and how to set it up.”
The 2016 World Superbike series breaks for three weeks ahead of round three of 14 at Motorland Aragon in Spain.
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