Hayden: “It’s Clear That There Is A Problem”

05/02/2017 @ 9:46 am, by Kent Brockman24 COMMENTS

Assen had been earmarked as a key round for Honda in its search for competitiveness in WorldSBK. It passed with more confirmation that the team’s struggles will continue.

Nine points were all that Nicky Hayden had to show for himself at the end of a trying weekend at the TT Circuit of Assen. The Honda rider was able to show some signs of improved competitiveness at times during the weekend, but overall the same flaws of the Honda Fireblade have been exposed once again.

Reliability and inability to bring competitive upgrades to the table cost Hayden dearly at Assen. The week before the Dutch round, the team tested a new engine specification in Portimao and the American came away disappointed with a lack of progress.

“We haven’t improved enough this year, and at the Portimao test before Assen, we were doing similar times to January,” said a clearly disappointed Hayden.

“I think that was big blow to all of us, and I’m not going to lie, we went there expecting to see some improvement. We had a new engine upgrade, and it was a smoother power delivery, but it was too smooth and it wasn’t a step forward.”

“It’s possible that there was some stuff wrong with that engine, and once they got it back to the workshop they might have found something.”

“That test was just a big blow for us, and I wasn’t happy at all because we need to find some power. We had some other problems at that test and maybe that could be a little wakeup call for the team, and help all of us realize what’s going on.”

“It’s not working, and we need to take a different path. We can’t use a lack of time with the bike as an excuse any longer because we’ve now had eight races and a lot of testing. With this much data on the bike and no real significant gain in lap time it’s clear that there is a problem.”

That problem initially centered on the electronics of the bike, and issues with throttle connection and engine braking.

At the Portimao test, those issues reared their head again and while the team had hoped to use the new specification at Assen, Hayden didn’t want to risk adding another engine to the allocation that could cause issues.

“I have a problem adding the new engine because I’ve already used a lot of engines this year, because I had a problem with one. To bring another engine into the circulation is tough at this point in the season, because I don’t want to be starting from the pit road later in the year because of allocation issues.”

There are plenty of other issues to be addressed as well, with Hayden’s Friday woes adding to his feeling that the team should bring in some additional resources.

“I was hoping with the new big sponsor for this year we would see more resources. I know we are just a satellite team, but maybe we can add one or two people to the team – an engineer and a third mechanic for each rider.”

“On Friday morning I had a water leak and it took time to fix it. Then I missed the whole second session with another problem. We have so many problems.”

“Who expects that you have to screw down the clutch cover or drain water during practice? If everything goes smoothly, two mechanics are enough. In our situation though we could benefit from one extra.”

Photo: Honda Pro Racing

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  • Superhawk

    That’s the most direct and pointed I’ve ever heard him talk. Probably sort of feels like F. Alonso with the other Honda and it’s ability to be on par.
    I know Nicky feels they need to be at least fighting for top 5, but even a rider knows if a team is doing enough to get there. Yamaha went through it, but they were determined and now a year later, they are battling in the top 5.
    Come on Honda… two MOTO GP pilots and nothing to show…

  • Ryan Shields

    There are zero excuses that can be made here. Honda has a top notch rider, who is maybe a little long in the tooth but is still no slouch, has a bigger R&D division than DARPA and NASA combined (not sure on that but still), and he’s sponsored by Red Bull racing. He should be bordering on untouchable but instead is still trying to get competitive?! Give me a break Honda. Make a new bike. We’re tired of “bold new graphics.”

  • Paulo Rosas

    They took SOOOO many years to “upgrade” the dam thing (I am selling my 08 after waiting so long! switch to an RSV4 -17 :), and now this!?? jeez

  • CBR Sean

    So, Honda contracts riders through HRC (VDM), but yet will not send an HRC engineer there for R&D? This is one of those things that has always baffled me. Perhaps it comes down to cost or whatever, but at the same time, they will do far better here, than F1. What’s that budget like? Perhaps it’s time for a reevaluation.

  • AlaskanLaw

    Excellent comment. Honda, one of the largest design and engineering companies on the planet, has ZERO excuses for this pathetic performance. Well, I guess if their core business is now just manufacturing boring family sedans and crossover SUVs. Funny, I thought Soichiro founded this whole company on racing. How very, very sad.

    I feel awful for poor Nicky. He’s such a hard worker, so much class, and Honda is giving him table scraps as a reward. This bike sounds like it’s one giant factory recall mess.

  • Hot_Lunch

    Both Bradl and Hayden are fast guys. That both should be struggling, and doing similar lap times, puts the blame squarely on Ten Kate and Honda. Honda needs to listen to their riders and put some resources into WSBK. It is a shame to see such talent wasted on inferior machinery.

    I know both riders have a history with Honda, but the loyalty isn’t rewarding either party in this arrangement. If I were Hayden, I would start looking for a Ducati for next season.

  • Neil__S

    Not often do you hear NH69 call out his manufacturer let alone his title sponsor! Makes you think its much worse than it looks like. Such a shame; he (and his fans) were promised that by his second season he would have a competitive bike, and that’s clearly not the case.

  • MotoBell

    This is painful to watch – Hayden screwing up his career by being loyal to Honda.

  • darren636

    pretty severe criticism , considering how laid back Hayden is

  • Jerry

    There is something i dont quiet understand here, is the Ten Kate Honda Racing really is a SATELLITE TEAM??? WTF! I thought all this while it was a full factory effort just like the earlier Paul Bird team or the latest Yamaha WSB team. So it s just another factory backed team????

  • Hornet

    I dont think HRC is involved in any way with the WSBK operation.

  • Hornet

    He means it in the sense that compared to other outfits, they get no factory support from their manufacturer. Kawasaki, Ducati, Yamaha, BMW, MV all get factory help whereas Honda HRC from Japan dont help. However they do get resources and money from Honda Europe which isn’t exactly the same thing

  • Hornet

    I’m going against the grain here and say that the Ten Kate team has done well so far. They only finished 5 seconds off Alex Lowes at Assen last race which is remarkable considering the delays in development that they had this year with the ’17 Fireblade. And considering that the Yamaha is a full factory effort, TK have done very well. If there is a team that can extract the most out of the package I would back TK to do that job. It just takes time and patience, which doesn’t seem to be the consensus on this forum. Look where Yamaha is after THREE years of being in WSBK with a full factory effort, still midpack. The Panigale took forever to be competitive and how long has the Kawasaki been in the doldrums before the head office in Japan decided to get serious. It just takes a bit of time and perseverance. I’m sure by the end of the year Red Bull Honda will be singing a different tune.

  • Mark Robinson

    I’d like to see him team up with Xavi Fores. The Barni bike is a factory bike.

  • Jack Meoph

    When Honda built their bike around Pedobot after Hayden’s championship, he should have walked (to WSBK) and never looked back. Ducati wasn’t the answer, but Honda never was either. Unfortunately, the only other choice for a competitive bike in MotoGP at the time was Yamaha. ah well, racin’ ain’t easy. And I’m sure he’ll be OK when he retires. ;)

  • halfkidding

    It’s shocking to me that any 4 cylinder WSB engine is significantly inferior to any other. What is new under that sun? Nothing? Cripes, Honda started writing the book on these multi cylinder chain driven cam engines over 50 years ago? How can there be anything about them that they don’t know, or can’t make?

    Software deficiency I can sort of understand, chassis too, but engine? WTF?

  • Frank

    No Honda V4 …no Honda wins

  • Cookie Monster

    Today is harder to tune an engine, then years ago, today it’s all about electronica,
    In the good old days when Ten Kate were winning races, bikes had less electronica, and teams only had to fine tune the chassis and made some improvements to the engine, by adding expensive parts and remove weight…. now bikes came from factory with engines at the limit with exotic material parts, only the electronica can make the diference, and a software engineer is much costly than a good mechanic

  • Jonn Dol

    It’s about time to put an end to direct factory involvement in WSBK, and make it something like a semi-factory affair plus limit the electronics development. With the current spending, factory Kawa team should move/upgrade to MotoGP within the next 1-2 years. WSBK should be close racing class just like the rest of the production-based racing class. Just my 2 cents.

  • CBR Sean

    And that is the problem. At the end of the day, Ten Kate is just a satellite team, dealership if you will, that just so happens to be incredibly competitive against the bottom half of factory teams.

  • CBR Sean

    Well thats just going to cause them to fail. There is a reason Kawi came to WSBK with their entire GP staff. They have 0 intentions on returning to GP.

  • NexxWins

    Ducati wasn’t the answer? I bet his bank account says different.

  • Chocodog

    Maybe Hayden’s complaining will finally convince Honda to get serious. As with F-1, they can’t seem to learn and adapt to the problem. They must be trying same methods on different days instead of other way around.

  • Hornet

    Third mechanic comment is a bit much, sorry Nicky. You chose to come to WSBK, it’s not like this is MotoGP with extraordinary budgets.