MotoGP: Hayden bares his fangs
American rider Nicky Hayden finished fifth at Catalunya, taking his best result of the season. Hardly a satisfying result for the Repsol Honda rider, who is now in his third season with the official HRC team, but at least the fight he put up on Sunday afternoon announced there is more to come…
Having started from the second row, Hayden promptly moved up to third following the pace of Sete Gibernau and Valentino Rossi in the early stages of the race, but as the laps went by he gradually lost ground on the frontrunners and was challenged by factory colleagues Marco Melandri and Alex Barros. In the last ten laps the three riders constantly diced for third position but the 23-year-old from Kentucky was eventually beaten by his Italian and Brazilian rivals.
“The whole race was a bit of a dog fight really. We were really going at it,” said Hayden. “I got a good start and made a few overtakes stick in the opening laps. I got up to third and wasn’t that far behind the leaders when I made my fastest lap of the race trying to close the gap.”
“Then Melandri came past with a big move that cost me time.
I got back to third and just tried to get a steady rhythm and pull away. On the positive side the bike went well, the Michelins hung on well and my boys did a great job.”
Hayden’s team-mate Max Biaggi had a disappointing race, just seven days after a sensational comeback at Mugello where he had challenged Valentino Rossi for victory. At Catalunya, the Italian veteran rode a lonely race to take sixth.
“It went bad. We rode a different bike from the one we used at Mugello, with a set-up meant to improve braking,” explained Biaggi. “In those sections the feeling was good but it really worsened handling and cornering, with consequent problems for tyre life. I could never take part in the game and it makes me very sad. I look to Assen knowing that it’s not going to be easy, but we must push harder.”