Nicky Hayden gets first hitout on WorldSBK Fireblade
Honda’s new World Superbike pairing of Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark have concluded a two-day private test at MotorLand Aragón on Tuesday, in readiness for the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship.
After an opening day of action that was heavily affected by a thick fog embracing the circuit – which fully lifted only with two hours to go – both riders made the most of today’s track time by putting in a significant number of laps aboard their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.
Nicky Hayden’s first taste of the new challenge translated into a significant number of new areas to explore – new bike, new tyres, steel brakes and different electronics. The 34-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky has worked tirelessly with the team to get comfortable on his CBR machine with a special focus on the front of the bike and on its electronics.
With one year of experience in the series under his belt, Michael van der Mark could concentrate on evaluating new material for his #60 Honda including a new software code, new brake pads and a small upgrade in terms of engine character. The Dutch flyer and the team also continued working on the bike’s behaviour with a full tank of fuel as well as on qualifying tyres.
Hayden and van der Mark completed 83 and 80 laps respectively over the course of the two days.
The Honda World Superbike Team will return to action next week (25-27 November) for a three-day test at Circuito de Jerez, the last outing before the winter testing ban.
Nicky Hayden – “Today we were able to improve immediately from yesterday and kept making small steps forward throughout the day. We got a little bit stuck at some stage on pure performance but then we were able to push through and improve under braking and on corner entry. We now have an idea on where we need to improve; we used two bikes with different configurations and I liked some things from both, so now it’s a matter of putting things together and see if the general feeling improves with it. It’s early days still and surely the weather didn’t help but I enjoyed riding the bike and working with the team. Now we have a week off to look through the data before Jerez and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a different kind of track compared to here and we’ll see what happens.”
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Michael van der Mark – “The test was OK. It was just difficult because we had to wait a long time on the first day for the fog to clear and the temperatures to rise. Today I did 70 laps and tried a lot of different things but it all went too quick. We found some good things and some bad things but for me the aim was to give as much data as I could to the guys. I now look forward to Jerez; hopefully the weather will be better. The bike works very well there and lately we’ve scored some good results. It’s important to keep working hard and to get some valuable data before the winter break.”
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Pieter Breddels – technical manager – “Overall we’re quite pleased with this first test of the winter season. Of course, there are still things to be improved but we managed to go through a lot of different settings and items with both riders. Nicky got to grips with the bike quite quickly; the main focus on day 1 was to change the rear brake because of his unique riding style but already on the second day things were going much better, especially at the front. He then tried the second bike, which had different front geometries and he made another step forward. With Michael we concentrated on solving the problems we’ve encountered in 2015 regarding qualifying and pace in the early laps. He was also able to try new brake pads and a different spec engine that gave him a better feeling. This is a good sign ahead of a bigger engine upgrade that will be available in January. Now we have a week break before Jerez, where we hopeful ly continue to improve like we did here.”