Nicky Hayden is confident that Honda’s upgraded new RC213V-RS Open class bike will help the experienced American be more competitive in MotoGP next season.
Hayden will ride the RC213V-RS in the Spanish-based Drive M7 Aspar squad after a tough 2014 campaign on the underpowered RCV1000R.
Hayden and Scott Redding complained constantly throughout last season that a lack of engine performance with the new RCV1000R production bike made it difficult to fight for the top 10 on a consistent basis.
At fast tracks like Qatar, Mugello and Catalunya, the RCV1000R was almost 13mph slower on the straight compared to the factory prototypes raced by the likes of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi.
But Honda has addressed the horsepower issue with the unveiling of the new RC213V-RS at the end of last season.
The new Open class bike features a more powerful pneumatic valve engine that is identical in spec to the factory motor that was raced during this season by Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista.
With Open class benefits like softer tyres and extra fuel, Hayden is optimistic that he can be much more competitive when the new season gets underway under the Losail International Circuit floodlights on March 29.
The 33-year-old, who is scheduled to make his 200th GP appearance on home soil at the Circuit of the Americas in April, tested the RC213V-RS in Valencia last month, said: “My first impressions were positive. Without doubt the biggest thing I noticed was the extra power, as well as the usual reliability and performance characteristics of a Honda. The power will help us close the gap to the guys at the front. Until we have had more time to test it I can't really give much more of an opinion, but the first impression suggests that we have a solid base to work from. We were able to confirm the development that has been done with this bike so far and now we have to work on it more ourselves to understand it more and unlock its potential. We will see what level it is at when we ride alongside the others at Sepang. In the meantime I need to focus on returning to full fitness. I am sure we will be more competitive in 2015 than we were last season. There is still some development to be done with the electronics but I think we are on the right path. We had a great chassis last season but we were down on power.”