Nicky Hayden goes into his third season with Ducati with a new teammate. He’s changed team- mates before, but never like this. Valen- tino Rossi’s move to Ducati was the big- gest story of the 2010 season and will continue to be well into 2011. For Hayden, it’s nothing but good news. Ducati made a commitment to improve the Desmosedici when they signed Rossi and that can only help Hayden. It also helps that he and Rossi have more similar riding styles and pref- erences than Hayden had with his previ- ous teammate, Casey Stoner. Stoner liked a very stiff bike, a harsh ride. The Ducati is already the biggest handful on the grid and the direction Stoner took it didn’t help. What Rossi discovered in his first test was that it had to be less rigid. The factory developed a more flexible front subframe, while also asking Ohlins to build hybrid forks. We talked to Hayden at Wrooom 2011, the mid-January Ducati team intro in the Italian Dolomites and again, briefly, after last week’s first test of 2011 in Sepang, Malaysia. Hayden was overshadowed by Ros- si’s presence at Wrooom, and much of what he was asked was about Rossi, but he took it in stride with good humor. We thought the Rossi factor was a good place to start. So what do you think of it so far? Of what… Rossimania? Well I was going to get to that. Actually, for our team, I feel it’s a good eal. I’ve been in Bologna even before I came here and Ducati’s certainly work- ing hard. They got some ideas to improve. You know, I mean, we could sit
around these tables all day and all night
and yap, yap, yap, but really it’s all talk
until we get to Qatar for the first race
when something really counts.