But Hayden and Bradl still have work to do...
Signing former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl to join former Motogp champion Nicky Hayden is not a bad way of going about the business of winning WSB races.
The only problem for the Honda duo is that they are way behind in getting to know their new machines, because the project itself is way behind in development. The new bikes didn’t even turn up at the team’s workshops in the Netherlands until the New Year, making the challenge of being ready for round one this weekend practically insurmountable.
With little data and low spec engine tuning as yet, testing has gone more awry the further it has gone on. The second and final outing in Portugal was worse than the first one in Spain.
“It has not been a very positive couple of days,” said Hayden after Portugal. “We hoped that we could make progress but we struggled much more here than in Jerez. That is definitely not how you like to leave the final pre-season test but that is what we are up against. We were struggling with the power here. It was really aggressive and that was causing problems for edge grip. With many of the corners at Portimao being linked together, we suffered badly.”
“There are a couple of places where the power is in different areas compared to last year’s bike, and it feels a little bit lighter on the front; lighter in general. The change of direction is better but we are missing some grip from the rear that we had on the old bike. This engine definitely has more scope to work with.”
For Bradl, who had never ridden a superbike before, everything is new.
“Our first test was just a shakedown test but we had a lot of problems and we needed to stop the runs a few times to collect data,” said the 2011 Moto2 champ. “That cost a lot of time, but obviously we knew it was not going to be easy.” MCN says: It’s been a decade since Ten Kate Honda won the WSB crown with James Toseland. The new bike offers them the chance to get back to the front, but with Ducati and Kawasaki at the top of their game there is a long way to go. Hayden and the team are good enough to win, while Bradl remains an unknown.
‘We hoped we’d make progress but we struggled more than at Jerez’
Will Redbull fly Hayden and Bradl (right) to WSB glory?