Not since Max Biaggi hung up his Grand Prix leathers and headed to World Superbikes has a rookie generated as much excitement as Nicky Hayden.
The American is adamant that he can compete at the front in World Superbike this year, and already you can see the fire and determination in him to succeed.
For much of the last five years, Hayden was saddled with uncompetitive bikes in MotoGP, but already his demeanor in the Ten Kate garage is that of a man keen to get back to winning races.
The fire that led him to Europe 13 years ago is still burning, and now he feels that he has the package available to show his speed once again.
“I’m not here for a year or two on the Senior Tour, I’m here to win,” was how Hayden summed up his move to the World Superbike paddock, and there’s little doubt that he’s fired up for the coming rounds, as he gains experience of what to expect in the championship.
“I’m looking forward to going to Thailand. We’ll find out a bit more the reality of what our potential is for this season. In Australia we had two days for testing and I was able to understand Superbike. Thailand is going to be what I’m up against this year.”
“On paper it doesn’t suit our bike [Thailand] like this one [Phillip Island]. We’ll go on Friday morning, have two sessions and basically a quick qualifying and a race. It’ll be entirely different. Not that this weekend was easy by any means but I’m expecting it to be harder next week. That’s what I’m going to be in for this year so I might as well get a taste for it.”