Nicky Hayden confident Ducati can cure understeer issue

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Nicky Hayden remains confident Ducati can solve a persistent understeer issue that has dogged the Desmosedici MotoGP project in recent years.

The understeer issue was a constant complaint of Valentino Rossi during his disastrous two-year stint with Ducati, which ended in him walking out to sign a new deal with Yamaha for 2013 and 2014.

Hayden believes Ducati made some progress in reducing the understeer but he admitted it is still an area that’s vital for Bologna factory technical staff to work on for the 2013 MotoGP world championship.

Ducati failed to solve the understeer issue, despite ditching its carbon fibre frame concept for a conventional twin spar aluminium chassis in the second half of the 2011 campaign.

And just before he quit Ducati at the end of 2012, Rossi said a big frustration had been the fact that the same problems he identified at the end of 2010 still existed in his final Desmosedici appearance in Valencia earlier this month.

The headache of solving the understeer issue will no longer be Filippo Preziosi’s though after he was moved to a new role at Ducati in a major management reshuffle instigated by Audi last week.

Hayden, who failed to score a podium finish for the first time in his Grand Prix career in 2012, told MCN: “It is not so easy to find a magical fix for everything but Ducati has got some good ideas and certainly I hope we can do it. But it is clear that we have to fix that problem. We have got some other problems too.

Anybody is always going to push the front to a degree, especially now we have got such grip in the rear with all the electronics. Am I convinced we can fix it overnight? No. But I am convinced we can fix it and there is no reason we can’t. With the aluminium chassis we can see everybody else has solved it so it is a matter of figuring it out.”

Asked what he thought about Rossi’s comments at Ducati’s failure to solve the understeer throughout the Italian’s time at Ducati, the 2006 world champion added: “It is true that we haven’t solved the front feeling and turning but a lot stuff is better and Valentino got a lot of stuff he wanted.

There’s definitely been some improvements for me personally from two years ago. But it is clear it is not enough.”

Hayden and new teammate Andrea Dovizioso will continue their 2013 MotoGP preparations at a three-day test session in Jerez that gets underway tomorrow.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt