Nicky Hayden is confident that he will not get "brushed aside" at Ducati now that Valentino Rossi has joined the team, and says he is looking forward to working with the seven-time MotoGP champion again.
Rossi and Hayden were teammates at Honda when the American first arrived in MotoGP in 2003, and have now been reunited at Ducati for 2011 with Rossi arriving to replace Casey Stoner. Hayden admitted that holding his own against Rossi would be a tough challenge, but said it was one he was relishing.
"I know the deal – being teammates with Rossi won't be easy," said Hayden. "But really I won't get caught up in that. I'll focus on my job and my side. That's why I think it will work.
"Obviously, I know he brings a lot. That's what you get with a guy who's won as many races as he has. I don't really see it fazing our side of the garage too much.
"I look forward to the challenge. Obviously it's not easy. Be careful what you wish for, but a strong teammate is what you're measured up against in our sport. I don't want to get just brushed aside, so I need to gas it up and stand up and be known."
Rossi, who has brought his own crew with him from Yamaha, will take a major role in Ducati's development direction, but Hayden is not concerned that this will mean the bike only suits the Italian.
"For the most part, from what I know so far, a lot of his comments are very similar to what I think," Hayden said. "We'll see how it goes as things move on. He's going to want some changes, but for the most part I see it as positive."
He expects there to be a lot more cooperation between his crew and Rossi's than there was between Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo during their years together at Yamaha, when the two sides of the garage worked as entirely separate teams split by a wall.
"I don't expect a wall down the middle, it doesn't really fit in Ducati's way of working and the mentality," said Hayden. "Maybe all that works, but Ducati really is a family and the whole team's – not just our team, but the satellite teams – engineers work together.
"Obviously, we're going to want different things at different times, but I see it being a pretty good situation. It won't be difficult to work together when it's needed."
• Read the full Q & A with Nicky Hayden here