Two days of WorldSBK testing at Spain’s Aragon circuit (Nov16/17), saw the first appearance of Nicky Hayden in the wsbk paddock, completing his move from MotoGP for 2016 and a new championship chase for the 34 year old American in world supers. He tested his Ten Kate Honda alongside team mate Michael van der Mark; while Yamaha continued work with Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes on their new YZF-R1; and Kawasaki made excellent progress with their 2016 bike with Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes at the helm.
Monday the riders were faced with woeful weather conditions with heavy fog and low track temperatures, limiting activity to an hour late afternoon. Thankfully the fog lifted Tuesday for the second and final day of this week’s WorldSBK test. .
Some were carrying on from where they left off at the Jerez test in early November, but all attention was on the “Kentucky Kid”, Nicky Hayden. Following 13 seasons in MotoGP where he won the world title in 2006, the American returned to his roots on Monday; prior to his Grand Prix racing days he had clinched the AMA Superbike title in 2002. After a photo shoot with new team-mate Michael van der Mark, Hayden tried out the Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP for size, continuing to look into seating and foot positioning following a visit to the Ten Kate team factory in The Netherlands earlier this month.
Tuesday, Hayden continued to work with new Crew Chief Gerardo Acocella, focusing on seat, feet and handlebar positioning with the CBR1000RR SP. On the other side of the Honda World Superbike Team garage, Michael van der Mark acknowledged that the Japanese bikes are looking to make up a deficit in horsepower ahead of 2016.
Xavi Fores continued to ride alongside Chaz Davies on the second Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team Panigale R, while it remains to be seen as to whether Davide Giugliano will return at Jerez next week.
At the Pata Yamaha World Superbike squad, Sylvain Guintoli is riding with the #50 with which he won the WorldSBK title in 2014, ploughing on his learning of the YZF-R1. Alex Lowes also resumed his duties, having reunited with Crew Chief Ian Prestwood with whom the English rider wrapped up the British Superbike title in 2013.
Perhaps the most interesting story of the day was the potential lap time achieved by WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea. As he continued development work with team-mate Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team reported that Rea had posted a lap time of 1’50.4 with the new Ninja ZX-10R. No official lap times were revealed, although such pace would be quicker than the fastest race laps of the Aragon races earlier this year.
Numerous WorldSBK riders now travel to Milan for this weekend’s EICMA motorcycle show. The next on-track action will come from next week’s private test in Jerez, where several teams and riders will be present between Monday and Friday
Interview With America’s Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP Champ And New Rider To WorldSBK
There was plenty of attention on Nicky Hayden as the 2006 MotoGP World Champion began his first WorldSBK test in Aragon on Monday onboard his Honda CBR1000RR SP. It marked a return to Hayden’s Superbike roots as, prior to his 13 years in Grand Prix racing, he was the AMA Superbike Champion of 2002.
Nicky, Day 1 is over here in Aragon. How did it go?
The weather didn’t help things this morning. It was a bit wet. Well, foggy more than anything…you could hardly see! In the afternoon, we started with some rain tyres and made a couple of exits to get a bit of a feeling and to set the handlebars. We did a bit of work in the afternoon, but it really was a very short time. I looked up and asked what time it was: they said, ’12 minutes to go!’ and I was like, ‘What?! I thought it was at least another hour and a half or two!’ We did 20 or 25 laps over four exits, so we got started. I know there is a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere.
The classic question: how did the Honda WorldSBK machine feel in comparison with your Honda MotoGP open bike?
The tyres are different. I started with the wet front, which was quite a strange feeling, but once we put the slicks on the tyres were fine. I’ve just got to understand them. The brakes are a bit different. The electronics are a lot different. I’m in a new team and quite a new environment, so I have just got to understand everything and find the limit with the bike. I can say these electronics – just on paper – are much more advanced that what I was using this year with the Open bike, in terms of the amount of possibilities, different options and how much more you can fine-tune them. So that will be almost like going back more to what I had when I was at Ducati in MotoGP.
Track conditions were not great, but did you feel comfortable?
There is a lot of work to do, so let’s keep going. I am happy to ride the bike to get some feeling and some work started, but let’s keep going. At the moment, I’m not braking on the limit when it comes to the front tyre. I’m not using the front to the limit and that is probably going to be something. In terms of the rear, I have a feeling and generally with my style I can understand the rear quicker than the front – I’m a dirt tracker! I need more time to understand the front, that is probably my main focus.
Does this feel like a Superbike homecoming?
It wasn’t my first time, but my first time in 13 years! Back then I was riding a twin RC51: a very different bike and very different tyres. That’s so long ago I don’t really remember, but for sure I hope the transition can be easier versus somebody who had grown up on 125 and 250 two-strokes. I know four-strokes. Let’s hope that will make the transition easier for me [laughs]!
What is it like to work with the Ten Kate team?
Everything has gone pretty smoothly. We didn’t get a full day of work, but the communication is fine. Everybody speaks very good English and that is always a very big help. It is also a new bike for the Crew Chief (Gerardo Acocella), so he has to learn the rider and the bike! But I have a very good feeling already with him and the team. We are working and starting to put out fires. It’s early days, but it’s fun to start a new project.
At least you already knew the MotorLand Aragon circuit!
Yeah, for sure, it helps a lot. It’s really nice. I have enough to learn today; I don’t also want to go and learn a track, especially a hard track like this with blind corners and so on. I was here not so long ago on a MotoGP bike, four or five races ago, so I know the track and that helps a lot. It would have been nice to make the first laps on a dry track I know but, still, we got to go out in the wet so it’s not too bad.
See vision link of interview at: https://www.worldsbk.com/en/news/2015/QA+Nicky+Haydens+first+WorldSBK+test