After a dismal Japanese MotoGP at the Twin Ring Motegi, Nicky Hayden is hoping a new Ducati swingarm he will try for the first time in Sepang this weekend will boost his hopes of a strong finish to a disappointing 2012.
The American will get the new swingarm factory Ducati teammate Valentino Rossi has been using since Misano for this weekend’s Malaysia clash, which gives Hayden an immediate chance to bounce back from a tough weekend in Japan.
A broken bone in his hand suffered in a horrific crash at the Motorland Aragon didn’t help his cause in Japan, with the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi dominated by hard braking points.
But Hayden never found a comfortable set-up with his Ducati GP12 and he finished in a lowly eighth.
The 2006 world champion is now hoping the extra grip offered by Ducati’s latest swingarm will help in the extreme conditions at Sepang.
Hayden told MCN: “It should help if we just go by what Valentino said at the Misano test. He was very clear that it should help with grip and also with chatter. And I struggled with chatter in Japan, so hopefully it’ll help that. Even the test rider thought it was better.
"So I’ll cross my fingers and hope it has a little edge for me. Malaysia should be a good place to test it because it's a lot of long corners and grip is normally an issue, so hopefully that can help make up something.”
After his ride to a lonely seventh place in last Sunday’s Twin Ring Motegi race, Rossi said Ducati’s big issue is now rear grip under hard acceleration.
The Italian said Honda and Yamaha can put power to the ground better and Hayden agrees with the nine-times world champion.
He added: “Normally we are quite good on the brakes, but for sure the acceleration we can improve. They can keep the front wheel down somehow and use the power.
"So we can’t use our potential and we have to roll off the throttle, use the rear brake, and have lots of wheelie control and that's definitely an issue.”