Hayden eyes Rossi and Pedrosa threat
Reigning world champion Nicky Hayden has backed factory Honda team- mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha rival Valentino Rossi to pose the biggest threat to his hopes of mounting a successful defence of his MotoGP crown.
Hayden though refused to write off his own title aspirations despite a tough transition to the new Honda RC212V 800.
And speaking on the eve of the new season that kicks off in Qatar on Saturday, the American said: “If you look back at the last couple of tests they were consistently fast.
“But I definitely feel like over 18 races I can be strong and I know I got to be better than I was in the last couple of weeks. I made some progress in Jerez and Phillip Island was good for me.
“Even last year starting the series people didn’t think I had a chance until the last couple of races anyway. So I got to make sure it’s not just them two at the table.
The Kentucky racer added: “I want to be in it but I’m not going to make some big predictions saying I can do this and that.
“That’s just hype but the bottom line is that I’ve got to go out there and perform and if I want to put myself in the title hunt I got to get the results.”
The 25-year-old Repsol Honda rider said he was relieved to go testing after an exhaustive winter and was anxious to see where he was against his main rivals: “I’m excited to go racing, we’ll see what it’s all about when we go racing.
“Testing is one thing and there are a lot of guys fast and motivated. At the end of the day it’s still riders on a motorcycle twisting the throttle and whoever does that the hardest it’s the same old story. Soon the fog will disappear and we’ll find out where we are at.”
He added his approach to the new season would not change despite having custody of the number one plate: “I still feel got the same attitude to try and win and try and improve.
“I don’t feel like I got the target on my. I’m still feeling like I’m the underdog.”