Nicky Hayden unfazed by Valentino Rossi threat

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Nicky Hayden says he’s undaunted at the prospect of being Valentino Rossi’s team-mate again in 2011.

The pair will be paired together again in Ducati’s factory squad having been team-mates at Repsol Honda back in 2003 when American Hayden was in his rookie season in the MotoGP world championship. 

Speaking at a press conference to launch the 2011 factory Ducati squad at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in Italy, the Kentucky rider said: “I’m looking forward to it. I think I have a strong team around me with good guys and I know the deal to be team-mates with Rossi won’t be easy. But really I don’t get too caught up in that. I got to focus on my job and my side and that’s why I think it will work with him and me.

“I know he brings a lot when you got a guy who has won as many races as he has. But I don’t really see it fazing my side of the garage too much and I look forward to the challenge. You’ve got to be careful what you wish for but a strong team-mate is what you’re measured up against in our sport.

“I don’t want to get brushed aside over there so I need to gas it up and stand up and be known. It will be a big challenge for me but I look forward to it. I think it will be fun and I know our team, the motivation is really high and in Italy the excitement for the fans is really high. I can’t imagine what the atmosphere will be like when we get to Mugello, so I think it is a pretty exciting time for our time.”

Hayden also denied that any proposed technical tweaks to be made by Rossi in the build-up to the new season will have a negative impact on his own challenge.

Rossi wants to make the Ducati GP11 an easier package to manage over a race distance having finished in a lowly 15th place on his debut in Valencia back in early November.

Hayden said: “For the most part from what I know so far, a lot of his comments are very similar to what I think. In some ways I’m looking forward to having his information and feedback.

“He’s been around a long time with a lot of experience. He is no fool and he knows what he is doing so hopefully his experience and his team can help make our bike better.

“When I was in Bologna last month his guys were building the bikes and the relationship between his team and my team looked pretty good. I look forward to having his input but we will see how things go as it moves on. He will want some changes but for the most part I see it as a positive.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt