Monday, November 29, 1999

Ducati feels like home for the Kentucky Kid

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Ducati have a MotoGP bike that can win races and it is now up to the riders to deliver, American Nicky Hayden said on Wednesday.The 2006 world champion, in his second season as Australian Casey Stoner's team mate, was hoping Sunday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone might bring at least a first podium finish of 2010."Our bike is capable of winning races this year, we haven't put it together," he told reporters at Lord's cricket ground where he was filmed trying his hand with the bat and enjoying afternoon tea and scones."A couple of the races Casey crashed out of he had a good shot to win, so I believe our bike is good enough to win," added Hayden."We have the potential. It's not the bike keeping us from it. Sure we can improve the bike, and maybe it's not the dominant bike, but our package is strong."The 'Kentucky Kid' was only a baby when the former World War Two airfield last hosted a motorcycle grand prix in 1986 but he welcomed the chance to test his machine on a circuit unfamiliar to all.Having learnt his skills on dirt tracks in the United States, in constantly changing conditions, so a new layout was not going to faze the Owensboro-born rider."It could be a little bit more wide open, especially in the Friday qualifying," he said. "But normally I'd think in the race the same guys are going to be at the front."It's exciting for our sport to come to a new's a big challenge and I like it a lot. I wish we went every year to at least one or two new tracks."FOURTH PLACESHayden finished fourth in the three opening races and lies fifth in the championship, 51 points behind Yamaha's Spanish rider Jorge Lorenzo.Former champion Stoner is eighth, a further 15 adrift, after twice crashing while leading races. Fourth is also his highest placing of the season.Hayden finished 13th overall last season in a career low at the top level, with Stoner fourth and scoring more than twice as many points.However, the 28-year-old seems far more comfortable with his surroundings now."It's a combination of things," said Hayden. "Sure, the bike is changed a bit but I just understand it better."I came from a long time on Hondas, in the Honda team and when I came here last year everything was so new. It was quite difficult for me but this winter we had a great off-season, in the testing I was able to really work on some stuff."I had to change a lot in my style and how I rode the bike, because it's completely different and just the whole package," he added.Hayden, who won his title with Honda, left no doubt about where he wanted to be next season."I love the bike now and I like the team and I feel like we got something good going here," he said."I would like to stay where I'm at if everything works out and if they want me...if you'd asked me this time last year you might not have got that answer."(Editing by Ed Osmond, to query or comment on this story email
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