WSB: Hayden fears for 2017 ti­tle

For­mer Mo­togp world champ fears late ar­rival of Fire­blade has al­ready hit his ti­tle hopes

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Nicky Hayden’s World Su­per­bike ti­tle bid for 2017 is al­ready in trou­ble with no sign of his new Fire­blade.

The 2006 Mo­togp cham­pion knew 2016 would be a learn­ing year, but was se­ri­ously hop­ing to take the fight to the Kawasaki and Du­cati teams when the flag drops on the 2017 sea­son.

The Amer­i­can and new Ten Kate team-mate Ste­fan Bradl were left to test the older model at Aragon last month, be­fore mov­ing on to Jerez where Hayden sat out pro­ceed­ings af­ter sus­tain­ing a knee in­jury while train­ing. Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to MCN, he was un­able to hide his dis­ap­point­ment at the new bike not yet be­ing avail­able: “If I told you it wouldn’t have been nice to have the bike for these tests, I’d be ly­ing to you, but the re­al­ity is… it isn’t ready for us.

“For sure, it’s a con­cern as our cham­pi­onship starts in Fe­bru­ary. I was hop­ing we’d be able to get out on it be­fore the end of the year to give the team a chance to see the data and any prob­lems we might en­counter be­fore work­ing through it over Christ­mas. That wasn’t pos­si­ble and it is what it is.

“The boys at the front aren’t go­ing to wait on us so we’ll have to see – and un­til we ride the new bike we won’t ac­tu­ally know how much of an im­prove­ment it will be.

“The big­gest thing we strug­gled with this year was ac­cel­er­at­ing out of slow corners and es­pe­cially up­hill, more horse­power is some­thing we re­ally need but that’s not the only thing. We’re fight­ing against full fac­tory teams. Jonathan, Tom and Chaz are ex­cel­lent rid­ers do­ing a great job, but hope­fully we can get a bit more sup­port from Honda to help bring us closer.

“The team worked hard to get us to where we were at with the old bike. And I have ev­ery faith in them be­ing able to do this with the new bike too. They are get­ting the bike late and have to turn it into a race bike, it’s not go­ing to just turn up from Ja­pan ready-made, Ten Kate do it all them­selves so I hope they aren’t ex­pect­ing too much time off at Christ­mas!”

While recog­nis­ing how hard it is to fight at the front in WSB, Hayden has no re­grets about mak­ing the switch from Mo­togp af­ter the 2015 sea­son, but does seem to wish he’d taken up Du­cati’s of­fer of a WSB switch at the end of 2013.

“Of course I had doubts com­ing to WSB,” he ex­plained. “I had to ask my­self, at 35 is it time to let it go? When I looked at my­self in the mir­ror, I still be­lieved I could do it and had enough left in the tank to know it wasn’t time to pack it in. I still had the de­sire to race, I’m happy with the move to su­per­bike. Real­is­ti­cally, I should have prob­a­bly come a year or two ear­lier and skipped the open class ex­per­i­ment but I can’t look back now.”

‘ For sure, it’s a con­cern as our cham­pi­onship starts in Fe­bru­ary’

Hayden at the French round where he had a DNF and a ninth

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