China MotoGP: Nicky Hayden admits speed fear
American Nicky Hayden has admitted a lack of top speed could prove to be a severe handicap in this weekend’s Shanghai MotoGP clash.
The China venue features the longest straight on the world championship calendar, and factory Honda rider Hayden is worried that the top speed deficit he has faced so far in 2008 could leave him with a mountain to climb in Sunday’s 22-lap encounter.
Hayden, who is still waiting to test Honda’s revised pneumatic valve motor after a series of delays, said: “It’s true that the long straight isn’t going to be good to us.
“In Portugal I was 13th on the trap speed, so here, we’ll see. But they also say it could rain on Sunday.
“As I’ve seen plenty of times, I know a lot of experts out there who predict things, but silly things happens.”
Hayden also said he is hoping that Michelin’s recent revival continues this weekend on a track usually biased towards Japanese rivals Bridgestone. And he reckons a good showing from Michelin will prove that the French factory has been able to retaliate after Bridgestone’s 2007 domination.
Although Michelin riders won in Jerez and Estoril earlier this season, Valentino Rossi won at the same tracks in 2007 while using Michelin rubber.
The Kentucky rider added: “This was a Bridgestone track a bit last year, but Michelin’s done a lot of good work and you know if we have a good weekend this weekend I’m going to be completely convinced.
“I know I’ve said that about every race and I want to believe it. But hopefully we can have another strong weekend here with the tyres. So far they’ve done a great job.”