Nicky Hayden unlikely to switch to new Ducati in Assen

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American Nicky Hayden reckons he is unlikely to begin racing Ducati’s new ‘lab’ bike in Assen next weekend because it is no better than his current factory GP13 Desmosedici.

Ducati has invested vast human and financial resources into the new ‘lab’ bike, which features revised weight distribution and a chassis with different stiffness.

It was hoped the new bike would help solve a long-standing understeer issue but after a back-to-back test session in Mugello recently both Hayden and teammate Andrea Dovizioso said the ‘lab’ bike felt almost identical to the existing GP13.

There was no difference in lap time either so both carried out yet another back-to-back comparison in Catalunya yesterday (Monday) to see if there was a difference in performance at a different track.

Unfortunately for Ducati’s beleaguered engineering group the feedback and comments were the same.

The ‘lab’ bike is available for both to race from the legendary Dutch TT at Assen onwards, but the 2006 world champion Hayden told MCN he is unlikely to switch.

Hayden, who finished the one-day session second fastest, said: “We were testing with the new bike (in Catalunya) and for me it is unfortunate but I just can’t find any progress with it. The lap time is easier on my current bike, so that’s frustrating because they have spent a lot of time, money and effort on this bike and they haven’t been able to do anything better with it and we need something to get closer to the front.

I hope we gave them some information to help. About Assen that’s a decision we need to make but some of the future development parts have been designed based on this new bike. But if we check the lap time I am faster on my current bike, so for me I would hate to switch now. And the new bike moves quite a lot and that’s not good for Assen with all the changes of direction.”

Italian rider Dovizioso, who said Ducati needed to contemplate a radical redesign of its Desmosedici project after he finished over 30 seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo in Sunday’s race, was undecided on which bike he will race in Assen.

But the former 125GP world champion said it wasn’t a tough decision to make with the performance of both machines very similar.

He said: “We did a back-to-back test on the current bike and the ‘lab’ bike like in Jerez and Mugello to take a decision for the next races. Unfortunately the result is not any different and it is the same as the Mugello test.

The new bike is a really, really small improvement on corner entry and the last part of braking. But when we are picking up the bike we have a little bit more movement from the rear. But it was what we expected and now we have to take the decision on which bike we will go to Assen with.

We have to wait for the new material and I don’t know when it will be ready during the season. For me it is not a big problem to use either bike because there is no difference. Unfortunately that doesn’t solve our problems and we knew that. It is very similar the performance of both bikes so it is not like we have a problem to decide.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt