Nicky Hayden has admitted he is concerned with how late Honda’s new Fireblade will be available to the Ten Kate Racing team ahead of next year’s World Superbike Championship.
The 2006 MotoGP World Champion was hoping to have turned laps on the all-new blade before Christmas, but with the bikes arriving later than expected he won’t ride the new SP2 machine in race trim until late January, just a month before the opening round at Phillip Island in February.
“If I told you it wouldn’t have been nice to have the bike for these tests, I’d be lying to you, but the reality is it isn’t ready for us,” Hayden told MCN.
“For sure, it’s a concern as our championship starts in February. I was hoping we’d be able to get out on it before Christmas to give the team a chance to see the data and any problems we might encounter before working through it over Christmas. That wasn’t possible and it is what it is.”
However, while Hayden admits he is concerned at how late the bike is arriving, he does have the faith in the Ten Kate team to turn it into a race-winning package in the time they have.
“The Ten Kate team do a good job, but lap time improvements we made in 2016 compared to the guys in 2015 show how competitive the old bike was. When I made the move I had so many people telling me what a mistake I was making going to ride that bike, saying it wouldn’t be competitive but I think the team did a great job to get us to where we were at. I have every faith in them being able to do this with the new bike too. They are getting the bike late and have to turn it into a race bike, it’s not going to just turn up from Japan ready-made, Ten Kate do it all themselves so I hope they aren’t expecting too much time off at Christmas!”
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