Red Bull Honda’s Nicky Hayden says the red flag for Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori’s crash at the end of lap five did him ‘big favour’, as it gave his team a chance to fix a problem he’d been having.
The American had been struggling with engine braking all weekend, and once again the issue reared its head in the early laps of Sunday’s second race at the Chang International Circuit.
Luckily for him, the brief stoppage allowed his Honda mechanics time to fettle with the Firebalde’s electronics and find a solution to his problems.
Though not setting the world alight, Hayden was at least able to set a faster pace than he had managed at any point in the weekend during the restarted 16-lap contest.
“The red flag certainly did me a big favour, as we had the same problem with the engine braking not reacting normally and it was messing up,” the 2006 MotoGP world champion explained.
“But the team reset something and whatever it was it worked, so I went back out and it wasn’t spectacular but considering the pace we had, it was the fastest we’ve been all weekend.”
At the restart, Hayden was able to keep up with the likes of MV Agusta’s Leon Camier, Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty, Ducati’s Chaz Davies and Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres in the battle for fifth.
However, Briton Camier’s MV began to leak fluid, and this forced Hayden to alter his lines to avoid getting any of it on his tyres and cause him to crash. By the time Camier pulled off track, the others battling for fifth had disappeared.
“I set my best lap times, my best pace, and I was in there trying to race with Torres for fifth,” he added.
“When Camier’s bike started leaking, it wasn’t easy. I could see it was leaking oil. I was trying to stay inside of him, especially on the right handers but after I lost that group.
“Then I was by myself, but even then I was able to do a couple of decent laps, so it was a pretty lonely ride.”
Though the new Honda still has a long way to go, Hayden’s seventh and ninth in Thailand is proving that the team are at least heading in the right direction.