Nicky Hayden gets new crew chief

Ducati restructures to help struggling Hayden

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 12, 2009
Ducati Marlboro has shuffled its team structure in an effort to turn Nicky Hayden’s season around.

Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP champion, has had a disappointing start to his career with Ducati. A series of crashes and set-up problems have kept Hayden to just 5 points in three races this season, with his best result a 12th-place finish in the season opener in Qatar.

Ducati Marlboro’s solution is to bring back crew chief Juan Martinez to work with Hayden. Martinez previously served as crew chief for Sete Gibernau where he helped the Spanish racer finish runner-up in the championship standings in 2003 and 2004 at Gresini Honda. Martinez continued to work with Gibernau when he moved to Ducati in 2006.

“After the race at Jerez, which was fantastic for Casey but very difficult for Nicky, we had a few meetings to analyze our technical and organizational structure, with the goal of improving the all-round performances of our riders,” says Livio Suppo, Ducati’s MotoGP project director. “We came to the conclusion that after starting the season with not all of the Ducati riders able to match their positive form in winter testing, maybe this is the right time to introduce some new technical ideas in terms of the electronics as well as boosting our track presence in order to provide all of the Ducati riders with better support.”

A change in crew chiefs may help Nicky Hayden.
WSBK Champion Troy Bayliss is testing the Desmosedici GP9 in Mugello, Italy.

Martinez’ speaks both Italian and English, which may improve communications between Hayden and the team.

“(Martinez) has already worked in Ducati and speaks good English and Italian so he was a good match,” says Hayden. “I can’t say I don’t have enough good manpower behind me and it has been encouraging to see Ducati trying everything and working so hard to help get me in a situation to deliver. The team is very important in our sport but it is really up to the rider to do his part and make the difference, so I hope I can step up and do my part soon.”

Martinez replaces Ducati track engineer Cristhian Pupulin who had served as crew chief to Hayden and his predecessors Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi. Pupulin will now focus on his track engineer duties, analyzing data collected by the team and the satellite Ducati squads.

Suppo says the Ducati Desmosedici GP9 still has a long way to go in development, and Pupulin will play a large role in that. Pupulin’s next task will be to analyze the data from a test session at the Mugello circuit featuring former World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss.

“The GP9 is still a very young machine and for the first time in MotoGP we have five bikes on the grid. For these two reasons we have decided that we need to concentrate more on co-ordinating all the data that we gather at each race in order to provide more direction for development,” says Suppo. “As well as changing the structure of the team we have some electronic updates and Cristhian Pupulin will be able to completely dedicate his time to the important role of co-ordination, which we need to continue to develop the GP9.”

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