Nicky Hayden: Ducati in a big hole for Texas race

Nicky Hayden has conceded that Ducati will be in a ‘big hole’ when the inaugural Texas MotoGP race is staged at the spectacular Circuit of the Americas (COTA) next month.

Ducati was the only factory team not to travel to the recent private test session at the new COTA track near Austin.

Honda duo Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez took part in a three-day test, while Yamaha pair Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo tested on the long and technical COTA track for two days. LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl was also present at the private test and those five will undoubtedly have a huge advantage when they return for the race on April 21

The COTA track, which features 20 corners, a 211mph back straight and five first gear corners, is difficult to learn and while track knowledge will be less of an issue after Hayden rode a 1199 Panigale R there last week, Honda and Yamaha will have a major advantage on bike set-up.

The 2006 world champion told MCN last weekend he was hugely impressed with the layout of the COTA track and likened it to Silverstone and Istanbul Park in Turkey.

When asked by MCN for his impressions of the Texas venue, which will host the second round of the 2013 MotoGP world championship, the 31-year-old said: “It is going to be exciting. It really is very challenging in some places and it reminds me a bit of Turkey with a lot of elevation. It is a very difficult track but a great track, really safe and really wide. It should be a great event but it is not going to be an easy track.

It is so long and with 20 corners to get the gearbox right and I know we are really going to be in a big hole there with no testing. Those 45-minute sessions are going to go really fast with a lap time of over two minutes. You stop in the pits once in a session and with an in and an out lap you are not going to be getting a lot of laps. It will be a tough weekend.

I can see it is going to be very physical but mentally it will be very challenging to learn the lines with so many blind corners. I say it is like Turkey because of the elevation but also because of some slow corners like the last corner. It is different but I’d say it’s close to Silverstone too with a really big long and stretched out track and the Esses are a bit like Silverstone.

The surface felt good too. I was on a street bike with street tyres but it seemed grippy and sure smooth. On that bike I felt no bumps.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt