Friday, April 28, 2006
Nicky Hayden ended the day fastest in Turkey thanks to a late lap on a race tire – definitely not a qualifier. His bike is all but identical to the one he rode in Qatar, a very serious accident at a Honda test track has curtailed development work recently. There are apparently detail differences in the chassis but no way is it a new design.
In retrospect, it’s now easy to see that Qatar was not only Nicky’s best race away from Laguna but also his best race ever on a right-hand circuit. Is that victory away from home getting closer?
But, Nicky fans, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that Valentino Rossi is lurking down the order again. The chattering has not followed him from Qatar, his lack of progress this afternoon was due to a modification the crew threw in to stop the bike running wide under acceleration. It worked but lost all the grip they used to have under braking. Right at the end of the session Rossi reverted to the morning settings and set his fastest lap of the session on worn tires. Proof, he says, that they made a mistake.
The star of the day – again – was Casey Stoner who was fastest in the morning and a quarter of a second slower than Nicky this afternoon. He still maintains he’s finding it easy. Rossi reckons he’s good but also a good advert for how easy the Honda is to set up and how forgiving it is of a less than perfect setting. The young Aussie still isn’t fully fit, although he’s a damn sight better than he was in Qatar having been on antibiotics for the past three weeks.
How fast will he be when he’s really healthy?