The tenth round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship, scheduled for September 16-18 at the Lausitzring, will mark the return to action for the Honda WorldSBK duo of Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark, who are eagerly awaiting to resume their WorldSBK season on a track where they recently had a two-day private test. But how did their summer go? What are they expecting from the last four rounds? Here is what they had to say about it.
Despite to the big WorldSBK break, it has been a pretty busy summer for you. How much are you looking forward to resume the season now?
NH “It has certainly been a big break. This is something I wasn’t used to. In the end it went faster than on paper, with the Suzuka test, the 8 Hour race and the Lausitrzing test. Now I’m looking forward to getting back into it because there are still eight individual races to go and we will be racing every two weekends.”
MVDM“To be honest, we still had a long summer break after Suzuka. Luckily enough we were able to do a two-day test at Lausitzing, which for us has been really important. Now, of course, I cannot wait get back on track.”
When not on track, where did you mostly spent the break? Were you able to relax?
NH “For me it was mostly about being at home with no real exotic trips. I tried to stick to the program and follow along with training. I spent some time in my own bed and with friends and family, which is always nice.”
MVDM “In the sun! My girlfriend and I have been a couple of days to Spain before the private test at the Lausitzing and, immediately after that, we went to Ibiza and stayed there for 11 days.”
Did you train hard during the break?
NH “Fortunately, at home in Kentucky we have a good group of guys who live around here, mostly racers, who I can get out and train with, have fun with while trying to push each other.”
MVDM “I slowed down a little bit during the break. Not that I did nothing, just not on an everyday basis. Since I came home I resumed my usual daily training programme.”
What’s the funniest, weirdest or unusual thing that happened to you during the break?
NH “Some of you might not know, but there was a chance I could get back in the saddle on a MotoGP at Silverstone. Jack Miller’s team (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) wasn’t sure he was able to ride, so they asked me to come along. It wasn’t decided until Thursday, after he had his last scans. It would have been like jumping straight into the fire pit after not having ridden the bike for the whole year, but I thought ‘why not’. I would have been locked in front of the TV anyway, so I might as well have done the real thing. Honda Motor Europe was totally behind it and of course the Ten Kate guys gave me their blessing, but luckily for Jack it turned out he was okay: he’s a buddy of mine and I’m a big supporter of his, so I was happy for him.”
MVDM “Without a doubt, the funniest thing was to see all the crazy people in Ibiza!”
How does it feel to enter the upcoming round with already some work done, set-up and gearing and good knowledge of the track?
NH “I look forward to the next race! We got to ride at Lausitzring a few weeks ago not only to test a couple of items, but also to reacquaint myself with the WorldSBK-spec Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP after racing at Suzuka. It was good also to reunite with the team, learn the track and get ready for the last part of the season.”
MVDM “It was really important for us, because given the new weekend schedule there is less time available for setting up the bike. Our Fireblade is not well set up for the Lausitrzing track and the weather during the test was good, so we could put in a lot of laps and gather a considerable amount of data.”
Of the four rounds ahead, which is the one that you’re looking forward to the most?
NH “I’m looking forward to them all! Haven’t been to Magny-Cours yet, but I know Jerez and Qatar like the back of my hand. After the first nine rounds things have sort of got to the point where everything flows the right way with the team, the championship and the bike; there are still, though, some things I want to learn and try in order to be at my very best.”
MVDM “I’m looking forward to Qatar. It’s always a special round or me. It’s the season finale and we race at night under floodlights, something we don’t get to experience anywhere else.”
Does this last leg feel like a sort of mini season on its own?
NH “I don’t know about that, really. In some ways I was thinking, had it been like Nascar or BSB – where there is a sort of playoff at the end of the season – with the situation we’re in now things would have been quite exciting for us! It wouldn’t have been any easier but just something exciting. But I’m looking forward to it nevertheless!”
MVDM “Well this year has gone really quick, but I think these last four races are crucial to achieve fourth place in the championship standings. If we think about it this way then yes, this is going to be a sort of mini season with 4th place as the final goal.”
Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko