Nicky Hayden has warned fans not to expect a throwback to the spectacular racing and tyre smoking slides of the 990cc MotoGP era when the new 1000cc world championship gets underway in Qatar on April 8.
The last time MotoGP raced close to a 1000cc capacity was in 2006 when Hayden triumphed in a dramatic last round title shootout with current factory Ducati team-mate Valentino Rossi in Valencia.
But Hayden reckons the huge advances in electronic rider aids and the super grippy performance of Bridgestone tyres means there will be no repeat of the spectacular and close racing of 2006.
When asked by MCN this morning for his thoughts on riding the new Ducati GP12 this season during the Bologna factory’s annual team launch at the magnificent Madonna di Campiglio ski resort, the Kentucky rider said: “Life has changed since 2006 other than engine size and I think it will be a lot different from the last 1000s. The tyres have come a long way and the electronics are so much more advanced than they were in 2006. I hate to ruin it for the fans that think they are going to see tyre smoking and sideways style but until they limit some electronics, those days are gone. I think these bikes will be closer to the 800 style.”
Hayden missed the chance to evaluate Ducati’s new GP12 in Valencia back in early November after he was ruled out by a broken wrist suffered in a first corner crash during the last race of 2011.
But he used the time on the sidelines to watch the test from trackside to gauge the performance of the 1000s and he added: “At the Valencia test I watched out on track and the lines and style didn't look a lot different than 800s but I think it will somewhere in between. I've ridden the 1000 and it does have lot more torque off the bottom that I like and top speeds are going to be fast and I like a fast bike. A lot will be down to wheelie control on the tight tracks. We will have the power but being able to use it will be the big thing and finding the right balance with wheelie control.”
Speaking exclusively to MCN, Hayden added: “I’m looking forward to the new era and it is something fresh and new. The fans and the riders are going to like it and hopefully it makes the racing better. I like the sound better and you can definitely see them coming off the corners they get off faster. It will be interesting when everybody goes to Sepang on a big fast and flowing track to see the lap times because in Valencia you can’t really open the throttle and open them up. I think it is going to be better racing and we are going to see some fast top speeds.”
For more exclusive thoughts from Hayden and coverage from the Ducati launch, see the January 18 issue of MCN.