Nicky Hayden eager to evaluate Ducati upgrades in Catalunya

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Nicky Hayden says he can’t wait to see if new technical upgrades to his Ducati GP12 machine will reap immediate rewards when practice starts for the Catalunya Grand Prix tomorrow (Friday).

The American tested a revised engine, aluminium swingarm and electronics in Mugello last week as Ducati continues to try and reduce the deficit to Honda and Yamaha in dry conditions.

One of the most positive steps taken in Mugello came from the new electronics, designed to tame the Ducati’s aggressive power delivery.

When asked by MCN to give his impressions of the electronic improvements he said: “Two of the things we tried that we can use this week should make it a little smoother on the bottom. 

"One of the things with the easier power delivery also helped the turning because at the first touch of the throttle the bike was more smooth and help finish the corner rather than push wide.

"This is a perfect track to find out if the electronics stuff really helps with the long corners here where grip is really important.

"They haven't given up on some of the engine stuff but they did a lot of good work on electronics and there is a lot to be gained with electronics."

Hayden said laps completed on a revision of the Desmosedici motor yielded barely any improvement and he confirmed his lap times at the test were slower on the new engine.

He added: "It had some good points but overall I didn't like it. I didn't go as fast with it so I don't think I'll use it in Silverstone. They weren't convinced it was going to be a big help but I don't think I'll test the new engine here on Monday.

"Ultimately the lap time wasn't as good. There was some more power on the bottom but it didn't really help and it hurt a bit on the top end."

Hayden said tomorrow’s first practice at Catalunya will give a clearer indication of the potential of the new parts when they go up against the opposition.

He said: “It is hard to tell a base line without the other guys there setting a reference but I steadily went faster and faster both days. Ducati brought a lot of stuff. 

"I would have liked to have been little bit faster but at Mugello you never know. Last year it was brand new pavement but now it is a bit bumpier with Formula One testing there. 

"The lap time wasn't as great as I would have liked. We’ll find out tomorrow but I'm pretty excited and I'm confident we have made some small gains, although not recovered all of the gap."

Hayden said he liked the feeling of the new aluminium swingarm tested in Mugello but said the new part also increased chatter with the new softer compound Bridgestone tyres.

"I really like the feeling with the new swingarm but the problem for me was I had a lot of chatter, so I’ll test it again on Monday. But there was too much chatter to use here. 

"The bike worked well with it, the front and rear was really balanced but even with the carbon swingarm when I go softer I get worse chatter. At the moment it is not the right way for me, "he added.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt