2011 Qatar MotoGP Race Day Press Releases

Press releases from the teams after the MotoGP race at Qatar:

Casey Stoner keeps reigning in Qatar

The Repsol Honda Team rider achieves a crushing victory. Dani Pedrosa, third and Andrea Dovizioso, fourth, complete a successful weekend for the team in Losail

Casey Stoner just took his first victory of the season in the first race of the 2011 World Championship. It is also his first win with the Repsol Honda Team colours. The Australian took the lead by mid-race after overtaking a fighting Dani Pedrosa, that had started very strongly.

The Spaniard tried everything to keep his team mate's pace, but he kept losing ground and five laps from the end was overtaken by Jorge Lorenzo. The two Spaniards had an intense duel for second position. Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth after a tough battle with his fellow countryman Simoncelli.


MAPFRE Aspar MotoGP rider experiences lack of grip in desert race, finishing twelfth.

In the unpredictable world of MotoGP, it was almost a surprise that things began so according to the script in Qatar. All three polemen took the victory on raceday in their respective categories, taking the lead of the 125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP standings after race one of the year. Casey Stoner -always the man to beat at Losail- rounded things off in the premier class. The pressure of teammate Pedrosa at the start of the race failed to distract the Australian, and he dispatched reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo with similar ease later on. Another triumph in the desert for Stoner, with his two Spanish rivals joining him on the podium.

MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá was beginning his sophomore season in MotoGP, and had a tough time of things handling his Ducati on raceday. He made a strong start, keeping the sixth position that he had earned on Saturday in qualifying when the lights went out. He held onto the place for two laps, before a rear grip issue took hold and things got more complicated for the Spaniard. Losing feeling on a slippery track, Barberá had to turn his attention to avoiding slides on the corners, instead of chasing down fellow riders. It was a constant struggle, but he was able to finish the first race of the season in twelfth. The opening aperitif out of the way, Barberá will look to get his teeth into the top ten in two weeks time, when the championship heads to Jerez in Spain.

12th Héctor Barberá: "It was a difficult race for us. I wasn't riding comfortably right from the start, and I had realised that the bike wasn't working entirely as it had been yesterday. I had noted this in the warmup. I didn't understand what had happened, but all I knew was that there was no rear grip. I had to hold off the gas, because if I went into the corners at speed then I would slide about. It made me angry that all my braking points were changing about, and I wasn't able to ride the same way that I had done all weekend. We are looking at the origin of this problem, and the telemetry shows that the bike wasn't performing like it had done this weekend. We shouldn't get too down about it, because we just had some bad luck that is sure to change for the better in Jerez. I will look on the bright side; we were doing very well over the past few days and are gradually finding the way to go this season."

Stoner dominates in Qatar with decisive first victory of 2011

Round 1: Qatar GP – Race

Losail International Circuit, Sunday 20 March 2011

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Medium, Extra Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard

Casey Stoner continued his strong pre-season form to take a clear victory today in Qatar for the Repsol Honda Team, using the harder option front and rear Bridgestone slicks to finish over three seconds ahead of the field and set the fastest lap of the race.

The gap wasn't always so large however, as teammate Dani Pedrosa fought Stoner hard for the first half of the 22 lap race, leading for much of it. Yamaha Factory rider and 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo rode a determined race from third on the grid, leading on the first lap, to pass Pedrosa for second as the pair traded position in the closing laps.

Every rider used the harder option front and rear slicks for their extra durability over race distance, and consistency was good with Stoner setting the race fastest time on lap 13. Both he and Lorenzo also lapped in the 1minute 55second bracket until the penultimate lap, and Andrea Dovizioso set his personal best on the final lap.

Further down the order there were more hard-fought battles between Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli for fourth, and between Ben Spies and Valentino Rossi for sixth.

Hirohide Hamashima – Director, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development

"I'd like to congratulate Casey for his victory here, and also Honda for their great pace that resulted in four of their bikes finishing in the top five. They have worked very hard over the winter and this has really showed today. Jorge also rode a great and determined race, demonstrating his fighting spirit to secure second place. The pace at the front was good and although we missed a new lap record by just 0.2seconds, tyre performance and consistency were good. Casey was able to lap in the 1m 55second bracket until the end and Andrea's fastest time was on the last lap so this shows that both have a very good bike, rider and tyre package. Track conditions today were good, and as expected every rider chose the harder option front and rear slicks so we had no problems with graining. Finally, I'd also like to express my personal appreciation to Dorna, IRTA and the teams and riders for showing their support of Japan at this very difficult time with a minute of silence and photo message before the start of the race."

Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner

"It definitely couldn't be any better, and it's a similar start to when we won the World Championship. Everything with Honda so far has been amazing and we've made leaps and bounds over the pre-season, getting more comfortable on the bike and stronger and stronger. This was the same in the race and the bike was fantastic. This morning in warm-up we found the bike didn't want to work too well on a full tank of fuel so in the race Dani was able to open a bit of a gap but we were in no hurry as we knew the bike works well on old tyres and we'd be competitive at the end of the race. It got better and better the more laps we did and easier to ride right until the last lap. Everything has gone so well and everyone is working well so I'm looking forward to those next races already."


Incredible day for the Pramac Racing Team today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. After a very promising warm up, where Randy De Puniet has registered the fifth fastest time, the race did not go as expected. After a few turns from the start the French rider has lost control of the back of his bike that raised in the air and the front wheel hit the clutch of team-mate Loris Capirossi. The Italian rider has miraculously managed to stay on track, but two laps later he returned to the pits for a sharp pain in his left hand. He went immediately to the mobile clinic, the X-ray to his hand showed no fracture but a bad bruise. A race that leaves speechless, but only a great desire to prompt redemption at Jerez in two weeks time for the first MotoGP race in Europe.

Fabiano Sterlacchini – Pramac Racing Technical Director

"I think this is the first time that such a thing happens to me: both riders out of the race after a few turns on a clash between them. These things happen and there's not much to say about it. We are naturally very disappointed because after the warm we were expecting a good race. Now we have to think about the future, we are only at the first race of the championship and we will have many opportunities to make up for it."

Loris Capirossi – Pramac Racing rider – DNF

"Disappointed, but in racing these things can happen. I am very sorry it had to happen with my new team-mate who has no faults however. Again, anything can happen in racing. We now hope that fortune turns around and we will have better luck next time. The only positive aspect is that the hand is not broken, I felt a lot of pain and I had some concerns, but we will be in Jerez!"

Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing rider – DNF

"I'm sorry for the fall and to have the misfortune to hit my team-mate. The rear tire was probably still cold on the left side and as soon as I opened the throttle the bike raised in the air and all of a sudden I found my nose on the ground. It 's really a shame because we were very confident after the good warm up that we had done. The only thing we can do do is think of Jerez where in two weeks time we will try to redeem this unfortunate weekend."

Lorenzo Goes All Out For a Sensational Losail Podium

Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a perfect performance for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship under the floodlights of the Losail Circuit in Qatar tonight. The young Mallorcan started well off the line, leading the front pack briefly before settling into third behind Stoner and Pedrosa as they battled for the lead. With eight laps to go he hunted down Pedrosa and moved up into second. He surrendered the spot briefly for two laps then retook with a decisive pass, leaving the Spanish rider behind with an astounding burst of speed and posting 1.55.8 second lap times for the 20th and 21st laps. Lorenzo crossed the line in second for the hard won podium having closed the gap to lead rider Stoner to just 3.440 seconds.

Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies had a less successful start, getting caught up into the first corner and dropping to eighth as the pack settled. The Texan quickly closed in on Hector Barbera in front, dispatching him after three laps to begin the hunt for Valentino Rossi in sixth. After several laps maintaining a distance of just 0.1 to 0.2 seconds Spies made a pass at the end of the start finish straight but carried too much speed into the corner, running wide and tucking back in behind Rossi. He built up again and in a mirror of the first pass took Rossi at the end of the straight, making it stick through the first corner sequence and then echoed his team mate with a startling turn of speed, dropping to a 1'55.812 on the 18th lap. By the time he crossed the line in sixth the gap to Rossi had built to 5.96 seconds.

The Yamaha Factory Racing riders head to round two in Jerez in two weeks time with Lorenzo second in the MotoGP Championship standings on 20 points, team mate Spies sits in sixth with ten points.

Jorge Lorenzo

Position : 2nd Time: +3.440 Laps:

I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that's how I feel tonight. I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can. I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race from the start to the end and was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do.

Ben Spies

Position : 6th Time: +10.468 Laps:

That's the first race of the year done and dusted, it wasn't picture perfect and I got pushed out a bit in turn one, getting trapped behind Barbera and Rossi the first few laps. They were fighting together which meant I lost touch with the guys in front. Other than that it was a good race, I struggled to get by Valentino for a while, he was riding really well and he's not an easy guy to get around! Once we were able to get past we set fast lap times and the bike was feeling good. It was just the first part of the race that didn't pan out, I didn't get a lucky break on the start. We race in two weeks so I'm happy to get back on it at Jerez. It's the first race of the year, I didn't make top five but we got some points so I'm happy.

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

A fantastic result! I'm very pleased for Jorge finishing second, a shame Ben struggled a little bit in the beginning with the start and got stuck behind Valentino too long. Jorge raced with a big heart, it was amazing to see him mix it with the competition and lead briefly in the early laps. We can see it will be a tough season, but we can see that Jorge can cut it at the front. I'm very proud of him, it was a fantastic race.

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

A great start for my first MotoGP, Jorge proved he can deliver a fantastic race. We saw in warm up that the competition wasn't so far away and he pushed really hard throughout to achieve his podium. Ben unfortunately had a not so good start and lost some time behind Barbera and Rossi. When he finally passed them and had a clear track his lap times were really good, scoring the fourth best lap of the race. We are satisfied and can now look to Jerez with a confident eye.

Great race and win for Repsol Honda Team in Qatar

The Repsol Honda Team completed a strong first round of the 2011 Championship as Casey Stoner took the top spot ahead of Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo with Repsol Honda team mate Dani Pedrosa in third and Andrea Dovizioso fourth.

With this win, Casey Stoner completed a perfect weekend at the Losail International Circuit as he also took pole position and recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 1'55.366 set on lap 13.

On the Podium, HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki received the constructors trophy. As a sign of empathy with the Japanese, Suzuki, Stoner and Pedrosa all wore the Japanese flag in support at this difficult time.


"After a great pre-season, we came into this race weekend and everything kept getting better and better for us. This morning in warm up we had a few issues getting a good feeling with the bike carrying a full tank of fuel and this issue also affected us in the early part of the race, but we knew as the fuel level decreased and the tyres aged, that our bike would come back to us. Dani came past and we decided to follow to see where he was strong and where I was weak. Then when I started to feel more confident with the bike and had more grip and better turning, we decided to push forwards and take advantage. Tonight the bike was fantastic, as it has been for all the sessions and I'm very proud to be racing for Repsol Honda and to take my first victory in the first race. It is a great way to start the season! I'm really happy with how everything has gone and the way the team has all worked together, a big thanks to Honda and my best wishes to Japan in this difficult time".


"I'm disappointed, not for the race I had, but for the physical problems I had again with my left arm. Already in practice I felt something, but I was not sure if it could be that bad, at the end I couldn't grab the handlebar and in the last 7-8 laps I couldn't use the clutch at all. I was just holding the arm and I was suffering a lot. The bike was perfect all race, I had the chance to win but I had a very hard time, one of the toughest races of my life. I don't know what can I do because should be ok after the rest I had this winter. I did the tests and everything was in order. In the winter tests I was a bit weak, but I felt alright, so I don't know what we have to do. I feel sorry for my team as well, because the bike was very good, fast, perfect also in the corners. I'm proud of how I've been riding, I've been fighting with Casey in this circuit as nobody else did in the past but a t the same time I feel sad because I don't know what the future will bring. I know we will go to Jerez in two weeks, where the bike will run very well, and I'm very strong and fast, but I don't know what will happen".


"I'm a bit disappointed because our target was the podium but all in all I had a good race. In the first laps I thought I could fight for the podium and I'm satisfied with my pace, I also did my fastest lap on the last lap. We ran with a strong pace and the bike was constant but we need to make another step forward to stay with Casey and Dani. I lost time in the fight with Simoncelli, his passing manoeuvre was at the limit in my opinion. This was a crucial moment because we lost time which we needed to fight for the podium. I want to thank my team for the work done on the bike. I'm also happy of my physical condition because I finished the race without being too tired although racing here is demanding".


Losail, 20 March: With a track temperature of 20°C the premier class riders got underway the first GP of the 2011 season at Losail race track at 22:00 local time with Stoner gaining his first victory aboard his RC212V ahead Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

LCR Honda MotoGP racer Toni Elias has not begun his 2011 season in the best way as the Spaniard has struggled to find the proper set up of his Honda machinery at the 5.380Km desert track. The Moto2 World Champion started from the last spot on the grid after a difficult 3-day practices and suffered a front-end crash at 3 laps to go when he was in 14th position. Elias escaped unhurt from the accident and will be back on track with his squad at Jerez de la Frontera on the 1st of April.

Elias - CRASHED: "Well... this first week end has been very tough for me and the Team. Since the 2-day test prior to the race we have been struggling with the bike set up and even after. We have tried different adjustments to find the right feeling on this track but at the end we could only lap at low 1.58. And that was my lap time during the race from the first lap till the crash. We knew we could not do better than this as we knew our limit but I feel sorry for the crash. I want to cancel this bad week end and start again in Jerez".

Edwards and Crutchlow make positive start in Qatar

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team made a bright start to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar, Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow finishing with points scoring finishes in the season opening night race.

Edwards made a blistering start from the 10th position on the grid and was looking to force his way into the fight for the top six when he lost time by running slightly off line at the second corner. Dropping back into 10th behind team-mate Crutchlow, he quickly moved up to ninth to launch a pursuit of 2010 team-mate Ben Spies.

He closely followed his compatriot for the opening five laps, the 37-year-old setting a consistently fast pace in the mid-1.56 bracket. He shadowed the f ast starting Hector Barbera until lap nine when he moved into eighth position. But he'd lost too much time trying to overtake the Spaniard to maintain the pressure on Spies and he finished eighth.

Crutchlow made an impressive MotoGP debut at the 5.38km Losail International Circuit having started in front of Valentino Rossi and Edwards on the grid. Hampered again by the nasty left little finger injury he suffered during the pre-race test in Qatar less than a week ago, Crutchlow rose to the occasion brilliantly, fighting for the top ten for most of the 22-lap race.

He was right on the back of a group battling for ninth that was headed by Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Barbera. But like Edwards earlier in the race, Barbera proved tough to overtake and Crutchlow lost contact with Hayden and Aoyama with three laps remaining. He was rewarded for his determined performance when he swept by Barbera on the final lap to finish a hugely encouraging debut in 11th.

Colin Edwards 8th – 8-points

"That was the best I could do and I'm happy with the way I rode and my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 gave me a good bike as always. A top eight is pretty good considering the speed of the guys in front of me and I was pretty much where I thought I'd end up based on practice. I got a good start and thought the only way I've got any chance of getting a top six is to take a few early risks. I went round the outside at the first corner and made up a couple of places. But I had a couple of moments, one when I nearly ran into Ben, which wouldn't have been a good move. I thought I might have had something for Valentino early on but even when he's not 100 per cent he can still ride pretty good. I'm never happy with eighth but we got some decent points and we can move on to Jerez wi th confidence."

Cal Crutchlow 11th – 5-points

"I'm pretty happy with that and honestly I'd have liked to have got a top ten after how well qualifying went. I couldn't keep up with the group that included Nicky and Aoyama because it was tough to pass Barbera. They passed Barbera and I then overtook him to chase them, but he got me back immediately and let them get away because his pace dropped off quite a bit. But he's got a fast bike and that makes it hard to make a pass and stay in front of him. I was happy to be in the fight for the top ten for as long as I was and the experience gained is invaluable to help me progress in MotoGP. I wanted to finish and get a race under my belt, so it was mission accomplished. The next couple of races will be tough because I don't know the circuits but I'll be doing my best for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad."

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager

"Colin had a really good start and it was really interesting for the first few laps as he tried to battle with Ben and Valentino. When you look at the final position he was the best non-factory rider and in this field that is a big achievement. It is clear the top seven are really fast but Colin did his maximum with the package we've got. I am also very pleased with Cal. We didn't know what to expect because of his inexperience and the finger he damaged in the test was a bad injury. But he was able to battle with Aoyama and Hayden, who are world champions. It was a good pass on Barbera too, who has a lot more experience than him and that result that will give him more confidence for the next race. In Jerez his finger will be a lot better and I'm sure he can learn the track quickly, so we are looking for another positive result."

GP of QATAR - Race - 20/03/2011

Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli produced what was surely his best race in MotoGP tonight – not in terms of the final result but certainly in terms of his performance and the gap to the race winner. It has been a dramatic turnaround over the weekend for "Super Sic" after a difficult session on Friday and today he was able to enjoy himself on the bike as well as giving his fans plenty to be excited about too. A difficult start for his team-mate Hiro Aoyama cost him valuable positions but the Japanese rider showed plenty of potential for the races ahead.

Marco Simoncelli (5th) "I am delighted! I was a bit too nervous over the first few laps but it was so good to be racing at the front of the field that I almost didn't finish the race! Joking aside I am really happy because I thought my pace would be in the 1'56s but we were able to better it. At one point when I passed Dovizioso I thought I might be able to go after Lorenzo but I made a little mistake and it broke my rhythm. Then at the end in the battle with Dovizioso I was slightly slower than him on used tyres and I dropped off. Anyway, it was great to see the others so close up and I am sure this was my best race – maybe not the result but in terms of my consistency and the distance to the race winner. Now we need to take another step in the next race and have fun with the guys in the team, who have done a fantastic job."

Hiroshi Aoyama (9th) "When we had the minute's silence at the front of the grid before the race for the tragedies in Japan I felt really emotional. On behalf of my countrymen I want to say thank you to everybody who has shown their support during this sad time. I had a tough race because of the start. De Puniet crashed in front of me and I lost precious ground on the group. Then I got my pace together and recovered positions but it was a shame because I wanted to have a good race tonight. Anyway, I am still happy because I am sure that we will improve in the next race. My feeling with the team is perfect, we are getting on great and they believe in me, which is important if we are to grow together. I want to give them positive results and excitement."

Fausto Gresini "Simoncelli was great tonight and it was a pleasant surprise because it hasn't been an easy weekend with the fuel consumption problems. It is a fantastic result, especially because we are close to the race winner. The season has started well and I think that it can be a fantastic season for Marco. Aoyama had to fight back from last place because of the crash for De Puniet so he did well and I am also expecting good results from him in the next races."


Riding with characteristic grit and determination, Valentino Rossi finished the Grand Prix of Qatar in seventh place. The Italian rider dueled with Ben Spies for sixth place as long as the strength in his still-healing shoulder allowed, and he managed to maintain a good pace to the end.

After starting from the fifth row, Nicky Hayden rode a comeback race, steadily increasing his pace and finishing ninth after a series of nice passes.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th

"For sure we're not here to get seventh-place finishes, but there are also positive things from this race, starting with the times, because we were lapping pretty quickly. I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch. Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind Barbera for a few laps. Otherwise I would have been closer to Simoncelli and Dovizioso, since anyway there was a period when I lapped with them. I wouldn't have beaten them though, because at the end of the race, I'm no longer able to ride like I have to. I'm not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes are so different, it means that it's really a matter of me not being physically right. It's not just that. We also have to improve the bike because the others have clearly made a step forward since last year. Still, I learned a lot in this test and in this race, and we've already given very specific instructions about what must be done in the long term, in order to improve for the second half of the season for example. In the near term, on the other hand, we'll work on the setup, we'll keep gathering experience, and I'll continue exercising and doing everything I can to recuperate physically."

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th

"I got a bad start in the race, and then when De Puniet crashed, I just about ran over him and had to come to a complete stop. I'm happy I didn't run into him, but that was a bad break, because I was dead last with a gap to the next person. I started picking my way through, and once I got into ninth, I got into a decent rhythm and started doing my pace. I was trying to catch Edwards because I thought it would've been nice to have a last-lap race with him, but I didn't quite get to him. It's been a tough weekend for me on and off the track, but everybody around here is working to the maximum. They're the first ones in and the last ones out. I can't be happy with the ride, but I came from dead last, and my fastest lap was my last one. We've got a lot of work to do, but it's just one race, and no one can say we weren't trying."


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It's been a tough weekend for me on and off the track

Does anyone know what Hayden was alluding to, in terms of difficulties off the track?

I think this is as close as Nicky will come to complaining about his employers. I suspect he was told to test the soft chassis (or the hard chassis with a loose headstock, whatever) regardless of what he wanted to ride. He was making good progress with the standard '10 Duc so why wouldn't he race that version of the bike? His 2011Qatar race fast lap was 1/2 sec SLOWER than his 2010 time and his race time was 20 sec slower. Him and Rossi were the only 2 riders slower than last year. That is telling. I guess Rossi wanted more data on the 'soft' option but didn't want to use his testing time on it. Since there is limited testing and the factory test riders can't go fast enough Nicky was quickly relegated to Edwards' old role of a support member of Rossi's team. Very discouraging for him.

Stoner seemed to go fast whatever he was on and needed little resources to keep his pace up. Rossi is having difficulties adapting to the bike so needs as much help as he can get, up to and including co-opting other riders' development priorities. I also think that Ducati management's biggest fear is Hayden doing better than Rossi. It would make their $15M investment seem a big waste of money and also put a decent tarnish on Rossi's reputation as infallible in anything motorcycling related.


Ah, very interesting, thanks for the reply!

It's really a shame if that's all true, what a morale-killer. Although on the part about Ducati fearing Hayden doing better, I see what you're saying, but I feel that a winner is a winner whether it's Rossi or Hayden, and that they already have an Out to save face if Hayden places higher (Rossi's shoulder).

I just don't think it makes sense to effectively sabotage your other factory rider just so he doesn't place higher than the one you paid the most money for. That $15mil is a sunk cost and win or lose, Rossi is still going to rake in the money from all of his die-hard fans and marketing power.

Thanks again for your insight!

Agreed, thanks for the informative reply.

Hayden is so much worse off this year I think he'll be eating those words of "Rossi? Better him that Casey."

The Italians have a rager about making this Rossi/Ducati combination work, but in reality they can pour as much money and resources that they want into it. As it stands both Honda and Yamaha are so far ahead from an engineering perspective that it's just not funny anymore. Rossi's year is written off before it even starts and it has very little to do with his shoulder.

I would assume that they will be pouring alot of time into 2011's new regulations as well.. given that the 800cc era is done, the next few years will be development years across the entire paddock. If Ducati don't come out firing in 2011 then they could be stuck in the cycle of constant 'development for next year' with an aging Rossi not sticking around long enough to make it work.

F1, WSBK, Rally. They have always appealled to him and you can bet that running outside the top six consistently will do nothing to keep him here in GP.

Well yes, obviously I did mean 2012. Unless you know of some 1000's arriving on the grid this year that is.

Some may be thinking Honda has a 200cc gearbox.

Whatever they're doing, they're doing it well.

Only one race down and there's so many unknowns to come this season.. let alone the massive shake up that will happen next year.

That is a lot of Hayden related conspiracy theory based on one vague sentence!!

Yes, a bit of speculation on not too much, but it is not wild speculation. It won't be the first time Rossi used a teammate for testing duties or Nicky refused to air his dirty laundry in public.

There is more than this one sentence from Nicky. There are lots of vague statements from the rest of the team, him and Vito contradicting each other on what parts he was testing, the interesting fate of the 'flexible package' that seems to have never been tested, Nicky's performance slower than what he was previously doing at the same track, same weather, and the same tires, and the look of consternation on his face when in the pits.