Ducati has remained quiet about Nicky Hayden's test on its Panigale World Superbike Wednesday at Mugello, but British media reported that Hayden was on lap-record pace before a minor spill.
A report indicated Hayden's best time was 1:51.2, one-tenth of a second quicker than Troy Bayliss managed during development testing earlier this year. The test reportedly ended early when Hayden tipped the Panigale lab bike, which couldn't be repaired at the track.
That spill could have been caused by Hayden's unfamiliarity with Pirelli tires, which are much softer than the black onyx-like rubber Bridgestone produces for MotoGP machines. A factory source in the report indicated Hayden hopped off the Panigale early in the test and poked at the front tire, almost in a Doubting Thomas act to confirm it was possible for the rubber to move that much.
If true, the incident may harken back to a time when another American raced WSBK on Pirelli tires. In 2009, fresh from a multi-year clash with Mat Mladin in the old factory bike era of AMA Superbike racing, Ben Spies hit WSBK like a heart attack. Paddock lore has it that at one point Spies was braking so hard that a front tire on his Pirelli-shod Yamaha actually spooned itself off the wheel causing Spies to crash. Pirelli, again according to paddock lore, told Spies at that time they had never seen anyone do that since becoming sole tire supplier to WSBK in 2004.