Casey Stoner boosted by Nicky Hayden resurgence

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Casey Stoner has backed factory Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden for a successful 2010 MotoGP campaign after the American finished winter testing in promising form.

Hayden concluded the shortened pre-season campaign with the fifth best time in Qatar last week, which followed a hugely encouraging third place in the second Sepang test in Malaysia last month.

Hayden had a torrid early 2009 when he struggled to make the transition from Honda’s RC212V machine to the GP9.

But the introduction of a smoother and easier to control Big Bang engine for 2010 has galvanised Hayden’s fortunes after he ended last season with a series of top six finishes, including a podium on home soil at Indianapolis.

And Aussie Stoner believes his pre-season performances would have given Hayden’s confidence a big lift.

The 2007 world champion said: “It has been a great couple of tests for him. He was fast in Malaysia and he was fast again in Qatar, so that is very good, especially for his confidence.

“This new engine character suits the other riders a lot better and they can understand a lot better.

“If Nicky can fight for the podium and maybe some wins then that would be good.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt