Q & A with Nicky Hayden

Q. Your pace at the Sachsenring must have given you a confidence boost?

Q & A with Nicky Hayden

Nicky Hayden: In Germany the result wasn't what I'd hoped for but the weekend itself was good. It was the first time I'd been quickest - on Friday afternoon I was quickest for a long time in the session, both in the wet and the dry, and it was nice to finally see P1 on my pitboard again - I'd kinda forgotten what that looked like!

I made a couple of mistakes during the weekend just because I'd finally got near the front and was probably trying a little bit too hard, but that happens when you're pushing. I think we've found a way with the bike and the team, we're understanding a lot more and have better communication, I think that's where a lot of the progress has come from. But we've still got a long way to go, we're near the top five but our goals are a lot higher than that. You want to move up but the closer you get to the front the harder it gets.

Q. Does that give you high hopes for Donington this weekend, where the Ducati has been strong in recent years?

NH: I'm excited for Donington, I quite like this track and I know Casey has gone so fast here in the past, which he has about every place. But I really think the bike should work well here. It's really stable on the brakes which in the last part of the lap is so important. It comes off the corners good. It's never going to be easy but I feel like we've got some momentum going and I've got a smile on my face again so it's all good, I'm looking forward to it.

I think the bike should work well here but I've thought that before at different places and it's backfired on me so you can't predict those things. What I can predict is that we'll come here, work hard, use every minute of track time to your advantage because the weather can be so unpredictable and you never know what you're going to get on the circuit.

Q. What areas have you improved on to help you to move nearer the front?

NH: It's been coming if you look at the last couple of races we've gone 12th, 10th, eighth, fifth - that's real progress. We've changed some things with the bike, nothing massive just little things. The difference between being up front and being at the back is not a lot really. We're closer to the front but we're still a long way off that front group - those boys are not really on my radar at the minute, they're on a different level. I've just got to keep making progress and closing that gap down. I'm excited because there are still a lot of races to go this season, a lot of tracks I love and I feel good.

The electronics is one area we've improved in the last few races, to get the bike to come off the corners so I can accelerate better and have better top speed. That's going to help make the laptime come. But really I still need to improve everywhere, with set-up, riding the bike, entry, mid-corner - I need to take another step, a little bit in every area. I really want to stick my nose into that next group.

Q. Would you like to continue with Ducati next season, is the feeling mutual?

NH: It's a two-year deal but it's their option if they want to bring me back. It's been hard but now we're making progress. I looked at this as a challenge from the beginning and I don't want to give up. I want to say hey I conquered it, I was able to ride that bike, I was able to do it. We'll see if they want to bring me back. I know at some stage I'm going to have to put up some results, I know fifth and eighth probably isn't going to be enough to get Marlboro or Ducati - they might want to try somebody else at that spot. We'll see, but I'm not too worried about that. Obviously you worry about your future and what's going on but I think we can continue.

I believe in myself a lot. That's maybe what caught me out a bit in Germany and why I crashed a couple of times. I saw the front and thought I can be there this weekend, got a bit excited and threw it away making a mistake. But I believe in myself fully, that's not what I'm lacking. But sitting around here saying it is one thing, doing on Sunday is always a different story. Saying it doesn't mean much, I've got to go and do it and prove it. But I think I can.

Q. Has the Ducati experience been tougher than you expected, having seen Marco Melandri struggle last year?

NH: It was very hard in the beginning, I struggled a lot to make the transition. I'd spent 10 years on a Honda, I came to Ducati and everything was different - the team, the bike. To start with the results were pretty much crap and running around at the back wasn't much fun. But we stayed after it, stayed in there, the team was behind me and kept working at it, making changes and we started getting closer to the front. The difference between the front and the back is really not that much. I'm quite excited for this last half of the season, I'm back having fun, getting near the front which is good for me and the team, and there's a lot of races to go. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do.

I was prepared that it could be tough but I certainly hoped it wouldn't be this hard. It's been a hard year but it's not a bad life, I'm not going to sit around and cry and try to get anybody to feel sorry for me. I kinda hoped it would click and we'd be up front, but it hadn't happened. Yeah I've had some big crashes and some pretty crap results, but that's the way it goes sometimes. But I'm still here, I'm healthy, we're getting closer to the front and there are a lot of races still to go.

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Hayden determined to keep Ducati ride
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