Nicky Hayden positive after Ducati aluminium frame debut

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Nicky Hayden said his debut on Ducati’s new aluminium frame in Jerez last week was positive, but the American admitted Bologna engineers still have plenty of work to do to make the GP12 a more competitive package.

The 2006 world champion had to make a quick dash from his Kentucky home to Europe after Valentino Rossi withdrew from the Jerez test with a left little finger injury he picked up during a first lap crash in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rossi’s withdrawal meant Hayden got his first chance to assess the aluminium frame Rossi has been using since the Motorland Aragon race last month.

Designed in Bologna and built in the UK by specialist FTR to help improve a vague front-end feeling, Hayden said: “We had a good test and the team is working extremely hard. We won't know what we've got until we line up with the other guys on the same track but it is clear we have still got a lot of work to do. 

"It was the first time I rode the aluminium front frame and they have done a nice step there but we haven't fixed all our problems. We have more stuff to try, but is has been a nice step. 

"That's why when Valentino tried the bike he was so desperate to race with it and start from pit row because it is a good step."

Hayden said it was obvious that Ducati was working hard to close the performance gap to Honda and Yamaha after a dismal season.

Hayden and Rossi have only scored one podium each in the opening 15 races of 2011 and he added: “They've taken a lot of stick this year and Ducati haven't got enough credit for how hard they have worked to give me and Valentino the best opportunity.

"But it hasn't been enough and together the bike and the riders haven't got the results the team and our sponsors deserve.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt