Nicky Hayden still looking for more speed

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American Nicky Hayden reckons he still needs to improve his pace to have a chance of challenging for victory in tomorrow’s Australian GP.

The Repsol Honda rider secured his second successive front row start today with third in an exciting qualifying session as he clocked a best lap of 1.28.756.

He was only denied pole by less than a tenth-of-a-second as he ended up 0.091s behind former world champion Casey Stoner, who shrugged off a crash this morning to claim a stunning pole position.

Hayden said: “I got to try something in the morning because I’m definitely missing a little bit if I want to be a contender tomorrow. I know the race isn’t going to be easy, we need to sweeten up the bike to see if we can get some more traction, also the rider’s going to have to get it together a little better.”

Hayden, who claimed his first podium in 15 months at the Indianapolis GP recently, was disappointed not to have converted his impressive speed on qualifying tyres into a pole position.

Hayden, who was fastest in this morning’s final free practice session, added: “I should be content to be on the front row but I am a little disappointed. I’ve had a couple of pole positions here and it would have been nice to get got one before the season is over.

“I pushed as hard as I could but the other guys were just a little bit quicker. “There was less than a tenth in it, and I should quit whining being on the front row but certainly the bike and the tyres had the potential. Things have still been pretty positive but we need a bit more for tomorrow, though I’ve been in worse positions on Saturday night.

“If we can improve a bit tomorrow I hope to hang in there and not let these guys slip away like in Japan. The first session was a disaster but we have improved since then. I was quickest this morning in the dry but I need a bit more consistency on race tyres.

“Tyre choice is really critical around here, with the race being 27 laps and that left side of the tyre getting worked a lot. I got one tyre I like better on the left but it is not as good as on the right, but there are a lot more lefts than rights so it will be a compromise.”


Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt