Hayden on carbon-fibre Duke

Former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden is working to adapt his riding technique to Ducati’s fiery GP9 MotoGP bike, equipped with carbon-fibre chassis designed by ex-F1 engineer Alan Jenkins. Previously Ducati had used an over-stressed steel trellis frame which was blamed for the bike’s sometimes wayward handling.

Hayden, however, insists that the hugely powerful Italian V4 is still a handful. “The chassis is stiff, so you get plenty of feedback, but I can’t say the bike is easy to ride,” says the American. “It gets pretty loose on corner exits sometimes, but the engine is powerful and that’s important, especially in race situations.” Last year Hayden (above right) was invariably disappointed by his Honda RC212V’s race performance after HRC engineers had turned down the power to ensure the bike wouldn’t run out of fuel.

Ducati had a difficult 2008, failing to defend Casey Stoner’s crown, but Hayden hopes he will help get the factory back on track because his riding style is similar to Stoner’s, which should accelerate machine development. “Casey and I have similar backgrounds, having started out in dirt track,” Hayden adds. “We’re going to want to beat one another but we’ll also work together to make a strong team.”