MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden is expected to have a strong rookie season in World Superbike, according to some of the rivals he will be facing this year.
Hayden won the 2006 MotoGP title during his six years as a factory Honda rider and, following a five-year stint with Ducati, he spent the last two seasons back on a Honda with the satellite Aspar squad.
This year, he joins the Japanese manufacturer's World Superbike outfit, replacing 2014 champion Sylvain Guintoli at the team.
"[Hayden] is a MotoGP world champion with a great pedigree, and at the end of the day the bike he’s riding is very capable with a good chassis and a good engine," said 2013 WSBK champion Tom Sykes.
"He’s the kind of rider can put all those components together with the team around him, so I expect him to be competitive – and so far in testing it seems to be the case."
Hayden ended the final two days of pre-season testing in fifth at Phillip Island earlier this week, with his teammate Michael van der Mark also placing among the frontrunners.
The 23-year-old Dutchman was a race leader on his WSBK debut last year and went on to finish his rookie season in seventh, collecting three podiums.
However, reigning champion Jonathan Rea reckons Hayden could do even better in his own debut campaign in the series.
"When I last raced with Honda in 2014 we won quite a few races and van der Mark as a rookie was on the podium a lot in 2015," said Rea.
"Nicky has a really good CV, he’s been there and done that, so I fully expect him to do an even better job than van der Mark did last year, he should be able to fight for podiums or even race wins."
Ducati's Davide Giugliano was another rider praising Hayden's abilities, and the Italian also expects the Honda to be a more competitive proposition in 2016.
"Nicky is clearly a great rider, who has done well in his MotoGP career. I think without doubt he won’t be far from the front, the level of Superbike has increased a lot with Nicky’s arrival," Giugliano said.
"Above all, he’s racing for a works team. Honda has improved the CBR1000RR and now we will see the real level of the Superbike riders."
Additional reporting by Jamie Klein and Giacomo Rauli