Prior to the first day of practice at Assen, Nicky Hayden gave his usual press debrief, to talk about the upcoming weekend's race. With two MotoGP regulars out for the foreseeable future, and factory test riders in at Fiat Yamaha and Interwetten Honda, we seized the opportunity to ask Hayden why he thought that the teams went with test riders, rather than bringing in a young talented rider to get some experience on a MotoGP bike. Here's what Hayden had to say on the matter:
Q: We've got two test riders coming in to substitute for Rossi and Aoyama, who are both injured. Why is it so hard to find someone to ride these bikes?
Nicky Hayden: You know, I'm not sure. I don't know why Colin turned it down. He complains his bike was slow but then he didn't want to ride the factory bike. I didn't understand that. But you know, I'm not really sure, because it's not like you're trying to get somebody to fill the Ilmor, these are bikes that can win races.
But like I said last week, I was cycling with Bayliss at Misano, and I asked him if anybody had called him, and he said no. So I asked him if he'd consider it, and he said absolutely not! He said, MotoGP now has just become so on the limit, in qualifying, boys just go till they crash, pretty much. We've seen that in Misano, and we were talking about how good Bridgestone tires are, until they let go, and then they're so big. And I think the level is just so high, you can't just call in somebody from the bull pen whose going to jump in this paddock when there's only fifteen guys who've been testing and know these bikes and these tires. I think people would just look silly. I don't think you can just bring in a wildcard whose going to be in the mix, be in the top 5. If there was already somebody out there like that, they would already have a job.
Q: So you think it was smart for Cal Crutchlow to turn down the ride, because for a start it would have meant racing 6 weekends back-to-back?
NH: You know, it's a touchy deal, because Cal, he knows the deal, I don't want to speak for him, I don't know the exact terms, but it was a little bit risky. If Cal keeps doing what he's doing, he's going to get a legitimate shot with some testing, and really do it the right way.
I don't know his situation, so I can't say, but then again, he was going to jump on Rossi's bike, with Rossi's crew: If you're ever going to make an impact, you know, you might wait your whole life for the chance to ride a factory GP bike. Those opportunities don't come up that often, so sometimes you've just got to jump on them. But he knows what he's doing.
Q: What about two years ago, when Loris Capirossi crashed, and Ben Spies had the chance to jump on the Rizla Suzuki, and he turned it down. Do you think that was a wise decision?
NH: Looks like it turned out pretty good for him, though.
Q: Saying what you've just said, that the level is so high that you won't make an impact if you just come in and do one or two races.
NH: Like I said, there's not a lot of guys out there who could come in. I mean, name me somebody who you really think could just come in and ride?