Hayden endures "frustrating" second test on new Fireblade
Nicky Hayden has described his second test outing on the all-new Honda Fireblade as "pretty frustrating" after a number of teething issues compromised his running last weekend at Portimao.
The 2006 MotoGP champion was back in action alongside Honda Ten Kate teammate Stefan Bradl at the Portuguese track for the second collective test of the World Superbike pre-season.
Rain restricted Hayden's running on Saturday, but conditions improved on Sunday, with the Kentucky-born rider registering the ninth-best time - 1.679s slower than Ducati rider Chaz Davies, who set the pace on both days.
"To be honest it's been a pretty frustrating couple of days, but this isn't the first time that I've had a frustrating test in my life and we'll work on it," said Hayden.
"The power is still not delivered quite smoothly enough so it wasn’t easy to find the grip and keep the bike calm under acceleration.
"We were unable to improve every area in quite the way we wanted, but we hope to be more competitive in Phillip Island, because there’s still a gap to bridge from the frontrunners."
Like Hayden, former LCR Honda and Aprilia MotoGP rider Bradl was also off the pace in Portimao, ending up 11th-fastest and 1.883s shy of pacesetter Davies.
The German admitted the Fireblade remains “a bit nervous”, as the team hasn’t had time to fully optimise the mapping of the new bike’s engine.
"It was not an easy two days of testing, as unfortunately we faced some issues that did not allow us to improve the way we would have liked," he said.
"We still have to fully sort out the electronics and mapping for this engine so the bike is still a bit nervous.
"We will keep working hard and keep the motivation up in order to competitive for Australia and I’m sure we will be on the pace by then."
Honda, which launches the new Fireblade in 2017 colours next Monday, will get its next track time in the official test preceding the opening round of the championship at Phillip Island on 24-26 February.
Having skipped the Portimao test, the works Kawasaki team - which topped the times in Jerez last week with reigning champion Jonathan Rea - will be back in action at the Spanish circuit on Wednesday for another two days before heading to Australia.
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