Hayden battles to points finish on MotoGP return
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Nicky Hayden rode a determined 23-laps of the Motorland Aragon track in Spain today to claim a hard fought but richly deserved points scoring finish in round 14 of the MotoGP World Championship.
The 35-year-old made an aggressive start and immediately climbed up five places from his 19th position on the grid.
The 2006 MotoGP World Champion then engaged in an exciting fight with Michele Pirro, Hector Barbera and Eugene Laverty for much of today’s action that unfolded in front of a crowd of close to 70,000 sun-kissed Spanish fans at the 5.1km track.
Hayden encountered a tough practice and qualifying while he adapted to the Honda RC213V machine, Michelin tyres and controlled software, all of which he had no previous experience of prior to Friday’s opening practice.
Hayden though brilliantly utilised his vast experience to produce his best performance of the weekend in today’s race and he was able to maintain a fast and consistent pace over the final six laps to deny Yonny Hernandez the opportunity to take 15th position away from him.
Tito Rabat was left to reflect on a missed opportunity to score points for the ninth race in 14 this afternoon when he fell out of contention on lap 17.
A crash in this morning’s 20-minute warm-up session meant Rabat adopted a cautious approach in the early laps while he assessed grip levels in temperatures that were significantly cooler than yesterday’s baking hot qualifying.
The Spaniard’s confidence soared throughout the race and he was poised to attack for the top 15 when he crashed out unhurt at turn 5.
Nicky Hayden: 15th
“I would have to say that the race was my best part of the weekend. I underestimated on Friday how long it would take to get up to speed with the package, particularly with the Michelin tyres and certainly the front tyre. I started too far behind on Friday but in the race I was able to have a battle with Pirro, Barbera and Laverty who were all two seconds faster than me on the first day. I got a good start and really enjoyed battling with a few guys and the more laps I made the better I felt. I wish it was like World Superbikes and we got another chance to line up because I think with the experience gained I could do a better job. But all of us on the grid think like that. I’d hoped I’d come here and be more on the pace on Friday but that didn’t happen. I knew it was a just a one-off ride and I knew it was going to be extremely difficult with no testing but I came and gave it my all. It has been a good experience and I want to thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS for this opportunity. I was proud to work with such a great team.”
Tito Rabat: DNF
“My confidence wasn’t that high for the race after the crash in the cool conditions this morning in the warm-up. I made a bad start and I was pretty cautious in the first two laps because I was worried about a lack of feeling from the front tyre. Once I got in my rhythm I felt quite comfortable and was improving my pace but once again I lost the front and crashed. It is very disappointing because I could have finished inside the points today. It is clear we have to make some changes to improve the feeling with the front because I crashed losing the front three times in Misano and the same again here in Aragon. It means something is wrong and we have to keep working to find a solution because I am running out of leathers!”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It is a pity that Tito wasn’t able to finish the race today because when you analyse his lap times he was lapping at the same pace as the group battling for 10th place. So it is a shame that he crashed again and the problem was again coming from the front-end. It seems that he has lost a bit of confidence with the bike at the moment and we must work hard to ensure that we can help him get back to showing his normal potential in the flyways next month. Nicky did a good job today because it has been a steep learning curve for him. He scored one point and that is a notable achievement when you consider Jack and Tito have found it difficult in a few races to break into the top 15. I want to say a big thanks to him for joining Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS this weekend. It has been a privilege to work with a MotoGP Legend and to see up close what a professional he is.”