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GP Week : Issue 17
NICKY Hayden was robbed of his first rostrum this year when his new pneumatic- valve engine ran out of fuel within sight of the flag. In the electronic age, this simply shouldn’t happen, no matter what. Engine management software includes fuel programmes to ensure there is enough in the tank to cross the finish line. If too much has been used early on, power will be cut to conserve what is left of the slim 21-litre allocation. But it’s been wrong before on Nicky’s new bike. This is just one of the electronic, er, imperfections in an all-new engine that Honda actually didn’t want Nicky to race. “I thought Honda was being too paranoid. Now maybe I see why,” he said after Assen. Other problems include erratic warning lights, and uncertain throttle response at lower revs. This, opined Hayden, could even be dangerous, both in terms of spitting the rider off or cutting unexpectedly. It is equally dangerous to run out of fuel, especially when you’re in a pack of riders all hunkered down on the racing line on the last lap. Hayden chose the pneumo bike for its more aggressive power, but at Donington Park a dodgy warning light spoiled his race after a last-minute switch to his spare. He almost switched again after the sighting lap at Assen; the engine again wasn’t running quite right. The 2006 World Champion had no regrets, however; and no desire to switch back to the older steel valve-spring engine still used by Pedrosa. “I wasn’t going anywhere on that other bikes. It was my choice.” Now he must wait for the glitches to be ironed out. When electronics can be dangerous Hayden (69) looked set for a podium – until the new Honda ran out of gas .... 34