Hayden: It was nice to be happy on a Sunday!

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Nicky Hayden had his best result of the year in last weekend’s French Grand Prix and afterwards the American half-joked that it was nice to smile again after a race. Having fought with the factory Suzuki of Maverick Vinales and finished as the leading Open bike Hayden had plenty of reason for smiles.

“Of course it’s nice to win the ‘Open’ class but actually I’m more happy to be fighting with the ‘Factory’ guys,” said Hayden afterwards. “That excites me more. Today I was in front of Vinales for a while and I was fighting with Petrucci. The team did a really good job this week, especially before qualifying. I’m just happier because I felt good on the bike. It’s not that I could ride harder than I’ve ridden in other races, just more that there was more feedback and more how I wanted.”

Hayden was able to take advantage of a new swingarm from Honda and the effects of that clearly offered him improved feedback. The American looked much more comfortable on the  bike throughout the weekend and during the race he was consistently able to set fast times however there was a problem mid-race when his bike started to develop a problem in second gear.

“I had a little problem the lap that Viñales passed me. Maybe it was a sensor problem and in second gear the bike started to react strangely in a couple of places. I’m not really sure, they haven’t figured out what’s happened just yet. But it gave me a strange feeling and Vinales passed me and I just thought about finishing at that point. We got a few points and my best result.”

When asked what changes that he had made to the setup of the bike throughout the weekend Hayden said that there was some areas of the setup that the team tackled that they had not made changes at before but it was mostly a case of refining rather than making radical changes.

“We changed some wheelbase stuff. Not big changes but some stuff we don’t always try on the weekend. Also some stuff like some different fork settings that allowed me to brake better in the race in the first few laps, fighting. That test was definitely useful.”

Steve English

By Steve English