Italian MotoGP: Nicky Hayden looking for confidence boost

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Former world champion Nicky Hayden has backed himself to turn around a disappointing 2008 campaign with a positive result in this weekend’s Mugello MotoGP clash.

The factory Honda rider is rumoured to be struggling to retain his place in the Repsol garage for 2009 after a string of poor results.

The American hasn’t scored a podium so far in 2008, while team-mate Dani Pedrosa is right in the thick of the championship battle, sitting just three-points behind series leader Valentino Rossi.

Hayden admits his performances so far have fallen below expectations but the former American superbike champion said: “It is still early but sure I would like to be stronger right now. I haven’t really clicked and still we’ve not got enough speed to be real dangerous.

“I tested after Le Mans and didn’t really find anything there. Normally at a test you think’ oh if I could just line back up.” But there I didn’t. We got some different set-up options to try and it’s never easy.

“This grid is really competitive with a lot of world champions but we will keep trying stuff and I’ll never give up. Hopefully we’ll come across something. I know I can do it and the team is capable because we have done it before.

“We have just got to put it together. But I could do with some good results. I know it is not something just to stumble across but these guys are going fast. The guy on the hill in the armchair just thinks brake a little deeper and you’ll be okay.

“Same with the TV people when they are sitting in their air-conditioned booths, it is not that easy out there when the bullets are flying.”

Hayden was back in the MotoGP paddock today, fresh from his special demonstration ride at the Indy 500 last weekend.

Hayden took part in the demo laps ahead of the first Indianapolis MotoGP clash in September and he said: “That’s a pretty sick race with 350,000 people there on race day. It was pretty wild and those cars go fast.

“I know us bike guys accuse those car guys of being pretty soft but they get down at the end of that straight and turn left at 225mph without touching the brake or lifting off the throttle.

“You look down and they are already coming back around. The car race was exciting but they need to come back in September and see the bikes. MotoGP in America is definitely on the rise still.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt