WSB: Encouraging new Fireblade debut for Hayden

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Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl got a first taste of the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 they will campaign in the 2017 Superbike World Championship as testing got underway at Jerez today.

As would be expected with a new bike, both riders experienced a number of teething issues as they familiarised themselves with the new machine, which the team only took delivery of three weeks ago, but the day also ended on a positive note for Hayden as he lapped close to his best time from last year’s race.

The American’s quickest time placed him ninth quickest overall, some 1.6seconds from pacesetter Jonathan Rea. 

“We’ve a lot of work to do, as you’d expect, especially considering the team have worked like dogs to even get to be here as they’ve literally had the bike two weeks so to turn it into a race bike isn’t easy,” Hayden told MCN at the track. “We’ve a few little shakedown things to work to and I’m not 100%, but we made some laps and got a few things done.

“I can’t be happy being where we’re at, I’d never be satisfied to be there and obviously with the season starting in a month we’d prefer to be further ahead but overall at the end, I lapped very similar to the time I did in last year’s race. We know we had to start somewhere and we expected to have problems today, but in most exits we were taking off half a second so that’s very encouraging.”


Given the team’s short window of working on the bike, some components were relatively standard for the first day of testing and others carried over from the 2016 bike. 

He continued: “At the moment we’re running a pretty standard engine, so it hasn’t got drastically more power or anything, and the ride position is very similar as we’re using the same tank and seat unit from last year. The fairing is obviously very different and you can tell on the track as it feels different and sometimes the front is lighter. At the moment there aren’t any major differences, the power is in different areas but we need to smooth that out. 

“We haven’t even weighed the bike yet, but we do anticipate it being lighter than last year’s race bike. There’s really only one change of direction here from two to three and I told the team I feel a little better but also I’m not pushing to the maximum there yet so we’ll see how it feels when I try to chip off another second.” 

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing