Nicky Hayden has said the time he set as the first World Superbike test of 2017 came to a close in Jerez yesterday isn’t reflective of how far off their competitors the Honda team are with the new Fireblade at this stage.
Hayden stuck in a qualifying tyre towards the end of the two-day test that saw him jump up the timesheets to finish the day sixth fastest, just 0.7seconds off Jonathan Rea’s fastest time, but the American was frankly honest when talking of the lap time, which found him almost a second compared to his times on race rubber.
A tough test was to be expected for Hayden and team-mate Stefan Bradl, with the Ten Kate team not taking delivery of Honda’s all-new Fireblade SP2 until just two weeks before they headed out on track.
The team have been working flat out since then, and Ten Kate tech boss Pieter Breddels confirmed to MCN that Ten Kate still had engineers working around the clock back in the Netherlands to ensure they can put the most competitive package possible on the grid in Phillip Island next month.
“It has been two useful days of testing here at Jerez and luckily the weather was on our side in the afternoons,” Hayden said. “The team has done a great job to put the bike together and bring it here, despite the short time they had available to prepare them. We used yesterday almost exclusively as a shakedown day and in the afternoon we were able to make some decent runs, while today we tried to work more on the bike performance, just to get the bike in the right window, and a bit of a direction.
“We’ve made a couple of steps but it’s obvious we’re still behind our competitors at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do and time to make up; when we used the qualifying tyre the time we set made us look closer than we actually are. Overall we found some positives today: we worked a lot on finding more grip and the bike ran smoothly without any glitch. The team has a little bit of time now to understand the data before Portimão.”
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