Kevin Schwantz was brought...
Kevin Schwantz was brought in by American Honda to help with its Indianapolis GP Moto2 effort.
American Honda really wanted to win the Moto2 race at the 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. They hired the best people: Kevin Schwantz was the team manager; Kevin Erion was chosen to pick the crew responsible for everything from building the motorcycle to handling all the logistical details. And they hired Roger Lee Hayden, who - in his first year racing outside of America - had become something of a hired gun. His underfunded Pedercini Kawasaki WSBK team couldn't claim exclusive use of his talents, so when LCR Honda needed a rider for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, Roger Lee got the call. And when American Honda needed a rider who knew how to get a 600cc Moto2 racebike around a track, the former Supersport champion was the rider Schwantz chose.
The chassis would come from Moriwaki, which has a strong working relationship with Honda Motor Company. Erion was in charge of sourcing the rest of the parts and the testing program, which included three two-day tests at tracks all across America. First came a shakedown test in the stifling heat of the newly built Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, located about 70 miles east of Palm Springs, California, in the middle of the Coachella Valley desert. Then came two days at Barber Motorsports Park, where Hayden had a small off that was instructional (each Moto2 rider is allowed only one motorcycle; a big crash ends the program). Finally, there were two days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the daily rental fee is $15,000.
Hayden powerslides the MD600...
Hayden powerslides the MD600 out of a fast corner at Indianapolis. Once he and his crew had the right parts, they would have been right in the thick of race judging by lap times. But "getting caught in someone else's mess" on the first lap put an end to that charge.
All of which should have put Hayden toward the front end of the pack when practice began on Friday afternoon at The Brickyard. But it didn't. Instead he was 23rd and 1.32 seconds off the lead after missing much of the session with a rear brake problem. In the next session, on Saturday morning, he would drop to 25th of 39. Now it was panic time. Qualifying was a few hours away and, with a nearly 40-rider field, it was imperative that Hayden start from the front half of the grid. And so the team made a decision that should have been made on the very first day that the principals convened. It helped - but by then it was too late.
There were three Americans in the Moto2 race at Indy. There was Hayden; Kenny Noyes, the ex-pat who races for Antonio Banderas' Jack & Jones team; and there was Jason DiSalvo, late of the ParkinGo BE1 Triumph World Supersport team and a former Hayden rival in the AMA Supersport and Superbike wars. The American Honda crew wasn't concerned with Noyes. Not because they questioned his talent, but because he wasn't a natural rival; DiSalvo, though, they had to beat.
Other than Hayden's small get-off at Barber, everything had gone smoothly for the American Honda effort. They'd logged almost 1000 miles of testing over six days without incident. Then, on the second flying lap of the first practice session, Hayden came to an agonizing stop coming onto the front straight. "First f***ing ten minutes into the real deal, and the f***ing thing in front of God and everybody f***s up. And I'm [thinking], 'You must be f***ing kidding me. Is it amateur hour now?'" Those were the words of a team member who didn't want to be quoted, and for good reason; the team's job was to make sure the motorcycle went around the track the entire weekend, and not just for a lap or two.
The team knew that Roger Lee uses a lot of rear brake. It runs in the family. Erv Kanemoto, who worked with Nicky Hayden at Repsol Honda, said the middle Hayden went through a set of rear brake pads a weekend on his RC211V. Because of how he rests his heel on the peg, Roger Lee has a tendency to drag the rear brake. This was taken into consideration when they built the rear brake caliper, but they used the wrong parts, which caused the rear brake seizure.