Nicky Hayden secured an automatic spot in Superpole 2 at Phillip Island to provide Red Bull Honda with a welcome morale boost. The team have endured a troublesome winter with the new Fireblade CBR1000RR but Hayden managed to secure the eighth fastest time on Friday, ensuring he will figure in the fight for pole position tomorrow.
Although the American admits the team have plenty of work still to do, Hayden was pleased with the progress made from the pre-season test here earlier in the week.
“It’s nice to be at Phillip Island and get the season back off. We had a few ideas to try on the bike from testing here earlier this week: we made a little bit of a step forward, with the track conditions being a bit better and with the new spec tyres brought by Pirelli, one of which I particularly liked. I was able to do some decent times with it but we still need to find some more speed ahead of race one. The competition is really tough in the group where I’m in at the moment. Being in Superpole 2 is surely good news so I hope we’ll be able to qualify well tomorrow and get a good race result.”
Team-mate Stefan Bradl didn’t enjoy the same level of lap time improvement but the German was taking the positives from the day, even if he will be forced to go through Superpole 1 tomorrow.
“We made a good step forward compared to the test, especially this morning. The electronics were definitely working much better, after basically turning most of our attention towards it. This afternoon, things were not as good as apparently the window where the electronics seem to operate well is quite small at the moment, so we kind of ended up a bit too far. Track conditions were worse compared to this morning and I could not make the most of fresh tyres, but looks like we’re much more competitive in the long run. We will go back to this morning settings in FP3 and start building from there.”