Catalunya MotoGP: Nicky Hayden continues to struggle

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Nicky Hayden’s troubled Catalunya MotoGP weekend continued this afternoon after the American slumped to his worst qualifying performance of the season.

The Kentucky rider was only able to clock a best time of 1.43.068 to finish in a lowly 12th as he missed qualifying in the top ten for the first time this season.

The 2006 world champion was only 0.009s behind compatriot Colin Edwards but he’s been unable to make significant progress with the set-up of his factory Ducati GP10 machine in searing hot temperatures that just nudged over 35 degrees.

Hayden, who is closing in on a new deal with Ducati for 2011, said: “It has not been an easy weekend for us. We’ve struggled and we changed the balance of the bike to try to get some rear grip. And when we get grip we push the front and when the front works I have no traction in the rear.  

"We’re still holding out to try to find balance in the warm-up, but it is quite tricky for us at the moment. I put in the soft rear tyre and I have a lot more grip, but then in the long corners I pushed the front a lot.”

Track temperatures hit well over 50 degrees today but Hayden denied his situation was much better in cooler conditions during this morning’s practice.

He added: “In the morning the first 30 minutes when the track was cooler and we had better traction it was not too bad. I improved the lap time by almost a second from yesterday but there was no big improvement.

"We’ve just been changing the problem. We haven’t been close to fixing it, so we need to certainly look at something different. Maybe we need to raise the bike or maybe go with a different head pipe.

"We’re still talking about it. At the moment it’s going to be a demanding race. Starting from the fourth row doesn’t help – we have a lot of work to do but hopefully we can find something in the warm-up.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt