Hayden's Mugello Post-Race Debrief Transcript: "This One Was On Me"

After crashing out during the race at Mugello, a disappointed Nicky Hayden spoke to the press about what happened. Here's the transcript of that debrief: 

Q: That looked like a Casey crash.

NH: Yeah, I just, I got a terrible start, it didn't help things at all when I let the clutch out and the bike bogged. You know, from the first corner to the end of the first lap, I recovered a lot of positions. Even the next couple of laps, I felt OK, but then when I got clear track, it was strange, I couldn't really make a lap time. At Le Mans it was the same, I felt like after warmup, I could go a lot faster. Yesterday in the afternoon, I could do mid 1'50s quite steady with the harder tire. But this afternoon, it was just impossible to make the lap time. I was pushing the front a lot more in the race than I had been all weekend, I went back and forth a bit with Melandri, and I just followed over that crest, and … I was a little bit inside, because the lap before, I got in too hot and ran wide. And I just lost the front. It was pretty quick, and I didn't have my knee down enough at that point to try to save it, and that was it.

Q: The track wasn't dirty there was it?

NH: No, no.

Q: How was the bike, was it feeling different in front today compared to the rest of the weekend?

NH: It was folding the front more than it had all weekend. But that was rider error, I crashed on my own. Our Ducati front end isn't that bad, I was pushing and that was it.

Q: Wilco Zeelenberg asked the IRTA meeting that he wanted to change the order of the practice around because the 40-odd Moto2 bikes putting rubber and oil down all over the place is making conditions different on race day.

NH: Man, that sounds crazy to me. I know they told me that on Thursday, and it only seems like it would be better. I mean 40 guys going round a track helps to clean it off. But it does seem strange, I know like today, I expected to go a lot faster than that.

I mean it seems out there, and a little bit in France too, the lap times for me in the race weren't here like they were in practice. Even though I ended up getting fourth.

Q: His point is that during practice you're doing 125s, MotoGP and then Moto2, but on race day, you're doing 125s, Moto2 and MotoGP, it changes the nature of the track.

NH: But it seems like it would only be for the better. More bikes, more rubber, a cleaner surface...

Q: More oil?

NH: These bikes don't really leak oil, they're not [name of manufacturer not currently racing in MotoGP] or nothing. I mean, Honda engines don't leak a lot of oil.

Q: Well there was at least one guy who blew up wasn't there?

NH: Yeah, there was one guy who crashed and picked his bike up [Jules Cluzel] and was riding around smoking. I don't know, it's ..

Q: Track conditions certainly didn't seem to slow Dani down, he was running 1'49.7, 1'49.9s.

NH: I know. Yesterday I was using basically the same setup and I did some 1'49'5s, and actually I had a little electrical problem in qualifying where I could have been faster. My bike on top end wasn't giving the right fuel, and it cost me a couple of tenths in the last half of qualifying. We didn't know about it. I told them in the meeting last night that sixth gear just felt flat, and when they went back and looked at the data, they found something wasn't perfect in there. Not that it was easy, but you know today, I thought sure, I could do a decent time, but I couldn't.

Q: Lorenzo as well couldn't run the same times from yesterday.

NH: Did he say why?

Q: The only thing he mentioned was rear tire, basically, he just couldn't get the power on early enough. Edge grip, it sounded like. Zeelenberg said they hadn't looked yet, so they're not sure. Did you feel it really with rear tire grip, or?

NH: It was more in the front.

Q: Did you say you had a couple of close calls before you went down?

NH: Not close, but I didn't really have a great feel, I felt I was pushing the front more than I had been, only to be going slower.

Q: From Casey's crashes, he's said they've been too quick to catch. Was that the same for you, or were you just pushing too hard?

NH: I was pushing, I mean I'll take this, that one's on me. I don't want to speak for Casey's crashes. It was quite early, where I didn't really have my knee down in the corner. It's downhill, and when it went, it was pretty fast.

Q: Nothing to do with bumps, there's nothing significant there?

NH: No, that's the one corner they repaved! So like I say, we can keep looking for excuses, but really … You know, I mean it sucks to crash out at this race or any race, but still … there's a lot of racing to go so. At least I didn't crash out of last or something. At least I crashed out near the front.

Q: Silverstone next, have you had a look at any track maps or photographs?

NH: Yes, you know I got a track map, and I saved something from the BBC from the last race on my DVR, but I figured I'd watch it after this one, so. But I have seen the track map, and I've seen just now they're working on a simulated gearbox and stuff.

Q: Could be a faster lap time than Phillip Island.

NH: Yeah, great! I mean our bike is fast, and our bike goes good at Phillip Island, so. They do say it's bumpy, I have heard that it's pretty bumpy.


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Did he say Harley-Davidson? That would be a classic. It is refreshing to have a rider who shoulders the responsibility and doesn't make excuses. Hearing people make excuses, for example: Toseland his whole time at tech3, tends to make fans stop caring about their success. It's good to see that Toseland is fighting in WSBK again and I'm not just trying to bash him like they do on MCN all day long. On another positive note, the British GP is coming up and they are all at level 0 with track knowledge. This should be fun to watch!

See he is just so normal.. Nicky is a great racer.. good to have him in the sport..
And shame Hopper couldnt have just done the same..

Hopper do the same as what?
Hopper injured himself out of Moto GP. And now I think he injured himself out of AMA racing.

What Hayden is saying sounds a bit like what Stoner said after Qatar: rider error - it was my fault.

But reading through the rest of the details, That doesn't seem to add up. He is talking about the same things that Stoner has been.

Hayden has always accepted fault in place of the factory he rides for and this feels the same. I'm not pointing this out to to remove blame from Hayden but to focus attention back on Ducati. They have a problem and if Hayden has a couple more of these in the next few races, I think he will start to sound more like Stoner.

MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

Front end loss again for Ducati. I felt bad for Nicky as he's been doing really well this season and to have this one in Mugello must have really got to him.
He always takes it on himself,but perhaps there is a little more to it.This was the first time this season I saw him really pushing early in the race in order catch up,like Casey in Le Mans.Bang...front end lets go.
The commonality with all these front end losses for Ducati riders including the satellite riders has been early in the race with a full fuel load.
It is clear to see that rider error is not the whole issue here.The problem for the riders is that when it comes it's totally unpredictable, making it difficult to give worthwhile feedback to the technical staff.Thus,the crew try something,but have no direction. It all becomes a vicious circle.Hope they stumble on the solution very soon.

kawi's don't leak oil, Harley's do :)

Great transcript, thanks, David. But one thing is really irking me, what's with [name of manufacturer not currently racing in MotoGP]? Please excuse any ignorance I may portray, but does that company pay your bills or something? Or we censoring interviews now? I couldn't imagine anyone but Nicky himself would be responsible for the things he says...

Actually, that company has never paid my bills, even though I approached them a couple of times. However, it is not inconceivable that Nicky Hayden may want to ride one of those bikes at some point in the future, and I did not want to jeopardize that because of an off-the-cuff joke he made in a press debrief. Hayden probably wouldn't mind, but it was just a joke, and not a serious comment. 

I'd like to add a caveat to that statement rholcomb. "That bike just isn't that good 'anymore', no matter who's on the thing." Last season Casey was flying on it until he got sick (side note: Colin Edwards said he had, "Mystery fatigue issues" on the Sunday too). Will never forget him drifting that white ducati through turn 3 at Philip Island.

I agree about Nicky being pretty good about taking the blame, but as RatsMC said, that's exactly what Stoner said at Qatar.

A lot of people were struggling to match their practice/qualifying lap times in the race. I track temp was a few degrees hotter then the previous days and I thought that would have affected the soft tyres quicker more then the harder ones, but even Jorge couldn't do anything. Very odd I think.

I think everyone is looking too much into this and the media is trying to make a big deal out of this mystery front end problem that can bite without warning.

Looking at the crash he simply took a tighter line and held on to the brake too long to avoid running wide. The tyre gave up and down he went. This wasn't a full lean washout like Casey had.

Believe it or not, riders push the limits and sometimes they go over them, there doesn't have to be a techinical reason for every crash and Hayden has manned up to this one.

I would love to be able to agree with you but there are several issues with your point.

First, Stoner's crash at Le Mans was no more full lean than Hayden's in Correntaio.

Then, you have to look at how long Hayden was braking. Was it too long? How long is enough? How long is too much? I think Stoner was asking exactly those questions at Le Mans and Qatar.

The fact is, the front isn't just magically slipping away without any involvement from the rider, they are leaned over and braking. How much trail-braking they can get away with is what neither seem to have gotten right.

Yes, all riders will do this at some point but when it happens 3 out of 4 times with the same bike, you have to start to wonder if something else is going on.

Clearly, in all 3 cases, the rider pushed too hard and braked too late - rider error. But if neither rider can tell where the limit is, is it still rider error?

MotoTheory.com - MotoGP Data & Statistics

This comments from Nicky remember me the Casey's comments in Qatar,"just lost the front a couple of time in a long corner",Nicky said on official website :"“I was pushing hard and had a few moments on the front and then going down into that Ducati corner I crashed.".We didn't seen the Stoner crash in Qatar but i guess it's similar that hayden one, he was off the brakes when it went.

I don't think it is a simple "rider error",he had few warning before crashing,and kallio lost the front too.

the difference here is that hayden went into a corner a bit too hot with a bad line and was asking a lot from the front, he also crashed while he was on the brakes if i remember rightly.
stoner on the other hand has been crashing mid corner AFTER the front's done most of its work and he's not on the brakes, and when stoner has crashed he hasn't been going any faster than normal or asking more of the front.

...based on what they're saying.

There may be a data stream that suggests their interpretations are imprecise, but that is the team's business.

For Casey to do well again I think they should give him the screamer motor bike.
He didn't seem to have problems going fast on last years bike.

They had to get away from the screamer motor because of the engine limits in place this year.  The new rules placed a de facto rev limit on them, and so the screamer is not as effective when so handicapped.

The fact that all the riders are not complaining about the new motors (in fact, they are highly complimentary) suggests the problem is not there.

Couldn't the new engine have changed the balance of the bike enough to have caused the issues with the front? I don't know enough about engines to answer, but I would have thought that changing the firing order would require different balance shafts or something like that.

On another note, Casey is already upto his 3rd engine.

...that's what the team mechanics are supposed to be good at figuring out.

From all the reports, the new engine is more responsive.  This would suggest they would probably run a (slightly) stiffer rear spring and/or tighten up compression damping on the rear shock a bit.  This would effectively add load to the front, which shouldn't mitigate "feel" at the front, but could change the off-throttle balance.  But since they are also working with a different fork than last year, it feels different to the riders anyway.

The engine dynamics are certainly something they have to consider, but the other changes (like:  how much heavier is Stoner this year that last, before his illness?) should represent larger portions of their concerns.  It all figures in...

For those of you who are unable to read between the lines, [name of Manufacturer no longer racing in MotoGP] = Kawasaki

Elementary really

What I actually wrote was "not currently racing in MotoGP", which is slightly different. It certainly includes Kawasaki, but it also includes Moto Guzzi, Triumph, BMW, KTM, or Harley-Davidson and Victory, or even AJS, Moto Morini, Norton. The point is not that a particular brand leaks oil, but that Honda engines are not known for doing so.

Pure speculation but it seemed to me with Nicky's crash that the front end got very light on the direction change and the bike didn't seem to reset well...