Puig: "Hayden Is A Hypocrite, And Can't Set Up A Bike"

It was universally acknowledged that you were unlikely to find a happy, family atmosphere in the Repsol Honda garage. But just how bad things were is only now starting to appear, as the end of a long and unhappy marriage looms at the end of three years. For now, the partners involved are starting to speak out.

Nicky Hayden has been the most reticent of the two sides of the garage so far, refusing to criticize Honda for their treatment of him since he won them their last world title. But in a recent interview with the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, Hayden spoke out about what he believed was a fundamental flaw in the Repsol Honda setup.

Hayden felt that the team wasn't functioning as a team, with each side of the garage functioning independently and not sharing data to help develop the bike. "I don't like the fact that there's a wall separating the garages and that we're not sharing information," he told El Pais. "We're both on the same team, and we should be working together."

The problem, Hayden said, was not Pedrosa, but his manager. "[Alberto] Puig has too much influence on the team. In theory, he works for Dani, not Honda, but ..." he told El Pais.  When asked how much credit Pedrosa still has with Honda, Hayden replied "Dani is great rider, with a lot of talent. But Puig is the guy with all the power at Honda, not Dani. Unfortunately, it's Puig who runs Honda. I know I'm not supposed to say so, but that's the truth."

It seems that Alberto Puig was not at all pleased after this interview appeared in the Spanish press. For today, Puig has struck back in an interview with the official MotoGP.com website, blasting Hayden with some damning comments. When asked about Hayden's objections to the wall dividing the garages, Puig told MotoGP.com "all I can say is that Hayden may be bothered because now he can't access information and telemetry data from Dani's bike. With this information he was able to improve his riding, as he had all of Dani's references and now he can't use that any longer. He was simply copying as he never knew how to set-up a bike." 

He also accused Hayden of being a hypocrite in saying he has no problem with Pedrosa. "That's not the case. Everything changed with the incident in Portugal (in 2006), where Dani made a mistake during the race and apologised for it afterwards. Nicky eventually won the title and Dani did what he had to do in Valencia, which was to help him. But from that point -even if Hayden denies it- all he's been doing has been talking about how Dani was 'weird' and bringing the people around Pedrosa into the subject. He shouldn't act like a hypocrite and say that he doesn't have a problem with Dani, because since that incident in Portugal I think he has talked to him about twice."

Puig rejected the claims by Hayden - and repeated by other sources inside the paddock - that it is Puig who pulls the strings at Honda. "In my opinion, those who say that just lack respect to Honda and the work that they do. All I can do is bring my experience of racing like Honda has asked me to do, as I've been working for a long time with Pedrosa and Honda, forming the 125cc and 250cc teams and winning three titles with them. If you refer to Hayden saying that I'm the one who's in charge or used to be in charge, then he has to understand that in this job and in this paddock, anyone who believes he is in charge of anything is simply wrong. Nobody has control over things or is in charge of anything -results decide everything and put the people in the place they are."

And in a sign of what Andrea Dovizioso can expect when he joins the team next year, Puig made his position absolutely clear. "It is a logical step for a rider who has ridden for Honda his entire career, through 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP. He has shown loyalty to the factory, and now he gets a perfect move for him. As for how it will affect us? It really won't change much and won't affect our way of working. He will be another rival on the track."

Clearly, there is a clash of ideologies at work here. For Nicky Hayden, a team is a team, and should stick together. In his vision, everyone on the team, including the two riders, should be working together to improve the motorcycle and make it more competitive. Hayden's views are borne out by his work during 2006, when he was both chasing the world title he eventually won, whilst simultaneously developing the bike that was to become the basis for Honda's 2007 RC212V.

Puig, on the other hand, believes that each rider is an individual, and competes on his own merits. The team structure is a flag of convenience, a tool to help sponsors promote their products, and ensure that the team has everything it requires. Puig believes that a team is just a manner to achieve economies of scale, and that each side of the garage is on their own in terms of setup and data.

The two very different visions provide an interesting pointer to how Repsol Honda's two current riders will fare in the future. Nicky Hayden is heading off to Ducati, a team which has a lot of the family atmosphere he craves, and which has helped Casey Stoner become so competitive on the Italian machine. Dani Pedrosa stays where he is, and if we are to believe Puig's claims that their way of working won't change for next year, then we can expect to see the wall remain in place in 2009, despite both riders being on the same tires. Andrea Dovizioso is likely to receive the same treatment from Puig and Pedrosa that Hayden had to endure.

But Puig's words may yet turn out to be prophetic. "Results decide everything," he told MotoGP.com, and so might they decide the future of Dani Pedrosa and Alberto Puig. Paddock rumblings that Dani Pedrosa and Alberto Puig have one more year to win a championship are getting louder. The mid-season switch to Bridgestones cost a good portion of Pedrosa's paddock capital, and is as yet unproven.

What's worse is the pressure coming from Repsol, the Spanish sponsor of the factory Honda team. Repsol also applied pressure on Honda to force the switch to Bridgestones at Misano, and gave us the remarkable - and unique - spectacle of a major sponsor giving a press conference at a MotoGP race explaining why they wanted the change to be made.

For Repsol is getting increasingly desperate for a Spanish MotoGP champion, and may be mulling over the wisdom of their current investment in the series. Just how desperate Repsol are is clear from an advertising campaign currently running on Spanish TV, shown below.

In it, Dani Pedrosa is seen taking to the track, with a line of former Repsol champions behind him, pushing him on. A powerful image, but one which makes Pedrosa's failure painfully obvious. All of the bikes behind Pedrosa's all bear the #1 plate. Pedrosa's bike bears his current number, #2. Just how long Repsol are prepared to tolerate that situation remains to be seen. And with a rejuvenated Valentino Rossi, and Casey Stoner still in imperious form, Pedrosa's chances are looking frankly rather slim.




Back to top


Being hunted down by no.1 Repsol riders can not be good for you confidence.

Some say Livio Suppo is cut throat. Compared to Alberto Puig, he is a teddy bear.


 Nicky's got what, one more month to put up with this situation?

Here's to hoping he wastes Dani's ass in the final two races.  And Puig can blather all he wants.  The bottom line for the past three years: Nicky Hayen, 1 world championship; Dani Pedrosa, Zero.

Talk all you want, you still can't change the score.


Since the big divide has gone up in the Repsol garage due to the introduction of Bridgestones, who has the better results? Hayden. The guy seems to be totally rejuvinated in the last few races, and I think it's the tyres that have been holding him back. I'm sure that Rossi would have not caught him at Philip Island if Hayden were on Bridgestones. Next year will be interesting.

I'm perfectly fine with people thinking Puig is a jerk, but it's not an excuse for being so narrow minded. Nicky's results have been better than Dani's since the later switched to Bridgestone? You have to be kidding while doing those comparisons... It took the all mighty Rossi two dry races to be in the podium after a whole winter testing with the new tires. Were you expecting Dani to win a race under hurricane conditions on his first outing with a new bike and tires? He was in front on his first dry race, would have been in the second (if you check pace on race tires) if not crashed.

Now I wonder if Stoner will be using Nicky's data next year or the opposite... Also if Stoner's data may be usefull to anyone but himself, clearly Marco didn't find it so easy...

Nothing like extrapolation from practices to estimate where somebody 'would have been'

Rossi was 5th in his first outing, second bridgestone

Dani was 8th on his first outing, 5th bridgestone

Rossi was 2nd in his 2nd outing, first bridgestone

Dani was 3rd in his 2nd outing, 3rd bridgestone

Rossi was 3rd in his 3rd, first bridgestone

Dani was cutting the grass

to finish second, he has to finish...

It seems that you've been following MotoGP long enough to know what you can safely extrapolate from practice and what you don't. A one lap qualifying doesn't translate in race pace, consistent runs on race tires faster than other riders usually do translate in good race performance, unless conditions radically change.

Besides, I don't understand your comparison with Rossi, again simplifying things to a few numbers that mean little. The first Dani outing result means little if you take it out of context. Rossi being first bridgestone rider on his 2nd and 3rd outings doesn't mean much if you take it out the context (only one more top rider on Bridgestone, who was having to deal with a traction nightmare with his bike: Stoner). In any case, I never intended to draw a comparison between Dani and Rossi, I just took Rossi as the example of "the greatest of all riders" to measure how unfair might be to judge Dani vs. Hayden performance starting from Indianapolis.

As has been shown all year, and in many years previous, practice times can often mean little. This is especially true for the likes of Dani who does not excell in the cut and thrust battles, compared to open time trials that can occur during practice.

And the comparison to Rossi and simplifying things.  You started the discussion with simplification and comparisons to others.  Like for like and all.



Let's not turn this lovely forum into a bitch-fest. As for Hayden, he has way more class than the other side of the wall. Dani is under pressure, and Senor Puig is taking it on himself to re-launch Dani for next year - unfortunately with tactics that would be more appropriate in the battle for the white house. Dani is a terrific, hugely talented rider - who is still smarting from Casey running away with the glory. He said early 2007 'he would beat him (CS), he'd beaten him twice before'. He is smarting from having to relinquish his #2 plate - which he wore with pride to say he'd overtaken Rossi. Now in all the fuss about Stoner having to give up #1, we shouldn;t forget Dani has to give up #2. The only way to save face is to go for #1.

But I think Pedrosa like the other riders - #46 for example - often show a lot more equanimity than some of their managers and fans. Hayden and Stoner ride similarly, and despite Stoner's moaning, he has respect for his fellow competitors. And he hasn't once complained about Marco's lack of help. In fact, he said we should respect what Marco was trying and give him the space to pull it back together.


What do you mean by "having to relinquish his #2 plate?" Dani doesn't have to physically give up the number 2. He can keep the 2 on his bike for as long as he wants. Only the number 1 is reserved (for the previous champion).

I'm certainly not the first person to suggest this, but it bears repeating here that Pedrosa's best hope of future success -  and more importantly, mental health - may be to separate from Puig. 

The way I see it is that Pedrosa and Puig are two sides of the same coin.  Sure Dani is a fantastic talent, that can't be denied.  Alberto Puig is there to do anything it takes to ensure that Pedrosa has everything he needs to maximize that potential.  That seems to be the deal that both men have made.  At the heart of it, there's nothing wrong with that.

Where it gets weird is just how much Puig is able to influence the decisions of executives of major corporations.  Honda built the RC212 around Pedrosa, a clear step away from a bike that would benefit their other rider(s) talents.  Apparently through the team sponsor (Repsol) he engineered a shocking, mid-season split with long-time partner Michelin.

That speaks to just how powerful a desire the sponsor, and perhaps Dorna, have for a Spanish champion.  To me, not a Spaniard, it seems sort of demented.

As has been said elsewhere, the move to a spec tire will mean that there will be no special tires designed for wee Dani Pedrosa.  The irony is that his defection seems to have played a large part in sealing the fate of the spec tire deal.  With Jorge Lorenzo on Bridgestones next season he'll have the same championship-winning equipment package as Valentino Rossi and we just may see a Spanish champion after all.

That would give me almost as much pleasure as seeing Nicky Hayden finish above Pedrosa next season.

Well, I think it also gets weird when people start thinking that an external individual can decide the fate of the factory team of the world's biggest motorcycles manufacturer.

Believing that Honda designed the 800cc machine to please Pedrosa because of Puig's input sounds like a joke to me. Honda has been waiting ever since Valentino leaved to get a top rider to retake the crown on their own merits, and Dani has been the chosen one, not by himself, not by Puig, but by Honda. Honda built the first 4-stroke racing machine around Rossi, because he was "the rider" at the moment for them. It may be that the bike in question suited other people just as well, but that's a coincidence, Honda has always developped his bike with the input of the top rider on the factory team (because he is closest to bring the title home), and that's unlikely to change.

Now Dovi is coming, so far it doesn't seem he finds it hard to be competitive with what he is given, and from the original statements od HRC's boss it doesn't seem like Honda is going to favor Dani, with or without Puig around. They've also been waiting for Dovi for quite a while now.

I didn't say "can decide the fate" - you did.  I was talking about influence.  Two very different things.

It seems naive to suggest that Puig - having managed Pedrosa since the MotoGP Academy - had no input whatsoever into what characteristics in the design of a motorcycle would benefit Dani.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "retake the crown on their own merits" but Hayden certainly earned the championship he won while simultaneously developing the lab bike in 2006.

Puig's statement that Hayden relies on Pedrosa's data and settings seems patently ludicrous. Firstly, Hayden has been running the pneumatic valve engine for some time, which has entirely different power characteristics and weight distribution than the valve spring engine Pedrosa has used for most of 2008. The pnuemi' is also a thirstier bike, which means different tuning. Secondly, Hayden's dirt-track influenced, back-it-in style is markedly different than Pedrosa's, who came up through the 125 and 250cc ranks - the suspension settings would need to be entirely different to accommodate each rider. Lastly, Hayden is physically heavier and larger than the tiny Pedrosa, who could "represent the Lollipop Guild" if taken by tornado to Oz. So it's highly doubtful that Nicky could use much of the information Pedrosa's side of the garage might provide.

But the most damning fact about data sharing in the Repsol garage is this: knowledgable sources say that Dani Pedrosa re-upped his contract with HRC last year, and in that agreement, he stipulated that he would have full access to Nicky Hayden's data (or any rider on a Honda who is fast)...while also stipulating that his own data would be kept private. Therefore, Pedrosa can view Nicky's data anytime he wants, but Hayden has not been able to view Pedrosa's data all year long. This kind of information would certainly help solve setup issues in a shorter timeframe.

Source: http://www.superbikeplanet.com/2008/Oct/081010ajl.htm

Puig is doing a darn good impression of of a monkee chucking his own feces.

I've yet to hear anyone ask Dani if he will ride with the #3 plate next year. Seems only logical....



Mathematically Pedrosa hasn't yet lost the #2 plate; Stoner is only 35 points ahead with 50 on offer...  But I think if Stoner can clinch #2 for the year, Ducati will want to put #2 on the bike:  notice - Stoner rides  the #1 bike but wears the #27 helmet..  I feel somewhat sorry for Pedrosa, it's fairly obvious that his personality is subjugated to Puig's.  Puig has helped a number of young riders along - not the least, Stoner - but this outburst suggests that he is feeling great heat from Repsol and HRC. Did no one notice the look on the face of the head of HRC at Motegi - not happy, not happy at all. The HRC philosophy that the bike is the main ingredient goes back to Hailwood...