Interview: Honda's Nicky Hayden
Monday, November 19, 2007
This is the second installment of our Nicky Hayden interview.
Q Conspiracy theorists will say that the bike was developed for Pedrosa with input from his friend, Mr. Puig. Your thoughts?
A Well, you know, that's a touchy subject. People have probably already formed their opinion. I can see where people get that. I can't really argue with that point. Honda has a lot of belief in him. But I can say there's people at Honda who I feel are truly behind me. A lot of people, I guess, on this side, don't understand the politics that go into MotoGP. There's definitely a lot, with sponsors, passports, teams, things that go a lot deeper than tires, than just the rider. That's another thing that made this season kind of tough, was definitely a lot of things like that. That's a touchy subject. I don't want to just BS you all and dance around the question too much, but I don't want to say anything, because I really think next year, the input on next year's bike, they listened to me a bit more. And even this year, because I'm the main test rider at Honda, so they've got to listen to me some.
Q In the end, was this year's 212 that far off, in the last third of the season?
A No, I can't say so. If you watched Valencia, Dani went past Stoner on the straightaway pretty easily. So I really don't think - I would say our bike - well, the Kawasaki improved a lot, but from the start of the season to the end of the season, our bike improved so much. The main thing for me at the
"A lot of people, I guess, on this side, don't understand the politics that go into MotoGP. There's definitely a lot, with sponsors, passports, teams, things that go a lot deeper than tires, than just the rider."
end of the year, engine-wise, I was really fast. Fast engines on Friday. But my fuel consumption was really bad, especially some of the races at the end of the year. Come race day I had to lean my engine off so much to go the distance, that it made it a lot harder. That's one thing that happened at Valencia at the end of the race. The engine had to lean itself off late in the race. But I think the bike was not far away at the end. We had a few tire issues and a few things, but we made a lot of progress this year, as the season went on. Not just with parts, but of all the teams, Honda started completely over, where a lot of people just changed engines. Our bike was totally different for this year, and maybe it'll be better in the future, but I think maybe that got us behind a little bit.
I think the hard thing is everybody just expects so much from Honda. Everybody thought we were going to dominate, me included. I thought, new rule change Honda wanted. The results they've put together the last 25 years, HRC, you have such high expectations. It's like Rossi. You look at his season, and everybody talks about how bad it was, but I think four wins, third in points, some people expect more from some people, and I think Honda's one of them.
Q The Michelin situation was very curious to watch. From an observational standpoint, it didn't seem like their response was as urgent as one might expect in world championship racing.
A Yeah. The tires were such a big part of this season. I'm almost tired of talking about it, because if I was a fan at home, you sound like a whiner. You sound like, "Quit making excuses." But tires, now, in our sportor any sport, especially on pavementjust make such a huge difference. It's can really make or break you. I think it's almost every bit as important as the bike. Really I do. Places this year, when the Michelin tires just did not workLaguna being one of them. It don't matter what the team or rider did, he didn't have a chance. That was also a kind of frustrating part. But I'm like any rider. I want things fixed overnight for in the morning. At that level, it's not that easy for Michelin, tire company or bike company or anybody else, to just work miracles. A lot of things changed at Michelin, position this or that. But I will say that we did see progress as the season went on. At the end of the year, the last few races, they did make some progress. It definitely is encouraging for the future. But Bridgestone also is going to make a better tire. But at the end of the season, sure, we had better tires than we had mid-season at some places. That is encouraging. Michelin's got big plans for next year. Some more tests. Testing I think is the big area where Bridgestone got an advantage. Just spending money, as hard as it is. Our sport, it's just sometimes how much money you want to spend, and Michelin's going to up their budget, and we'll see if they get the results. They talk about it, and say, oh, they want to fight back, and they want to win the title again. So we'll see. See if they want to talk about it or if they really want to do it. But I was all for sticking with them. Hopefully they'll deliver. Not that I had a choice, but yeah.
To be continued