Nicky Hayden’s first chance to evaluate Honda’s new factory RC212V in Valencia today (Tuesday) was beset by problems as he completed only 14 laps on the 2008 V4.
A problem with a new pneumatic valve system in fifth and sixth gear caused problems on day one of the two-day test.
The new bike features a re-designed chassis and swingarm, and also a new under-the-seat exhaust system.
Nicky Hayden completed a few laps on his 2007 Repsol machine to assess track conditions before he was unleashed on the new bike, following an early run by veteran test rider Tadayuki Okada.
He almost immediately hit problems with the motor, and with having only one new bike at his disposal; he only did two runs on a sunny afternoon as the 2008 MotoGP world championship kicked off in Spain.
“We had a problem with the engine, so I only got to do two runs. The first run it didn't feel right in fifth and sixth gear and one of the cylinders was losing a bit of pressure. So they thought maybe change the sensor and stuff, but when I went back out it still wasn't perfect,” said Nicky Hayden, who still finished the opening day with the second fastest time.
He clocked a 1.33.176 in a 26-lap stint, but that was set on his 2007 machine.
The engine was fine between first and fourth gears and Nicky Hayden said: “The engine felt fine in the lower gears, but it was mainly fifth and sixth where it wasn't pulling. It felt like the transmission was way too long. It wasn't pulling and didn't feel right.”
Nicky Hayden said he hadn’t been given an indication of what caused the engine glitch, but said: “I'm not sure. I'm not sure they know the problem. I get the feeling they know where they went wrong, but they haven't just said that yet exactly.”
He was still relatively upbeat after his first taste of the new RC212V, and added: “My first impression was not bad at all. The seating position was quite a lot different.
“But the actual riding positions about the same. And definitely there were some things I liked about it. The wheelie was a lot less.
“I don't know if that was because the engine wasn't running right or why. But definitely the pitch of the weight, front to rear, was a lot more controlled and not so aggressive on the brakes.
“The seating positions really about the same from the handlebars to the tank, that's no different.
Nicky Hayden was pleased with the early feeling the new chassis and swingarm package gave him, adding: “I wouldn’t actual edge grip was better, but when it did spin, this bike seemed to try to push forward and it didn't step sideways as much.
“Also, with the engine not running right, maybe you could make think traction was better than it really was. The bike seemed more balanced. Especially in braking for turn two. The rear wheel stays on the ground and there’s a better contact feeling on the ear on corner entry.”
Nicky Hayden will be back out on track tomorrow for one more day before he gets back on track next week in Malaysia.