Aided by a post race penalty for Toni Elias, Nicky Hayden claimed a Ducati best of eighth in Saturday's Dutch TT, despite a lose handlebar!

The 2006 world champion rose from 13th to eighth on lap one then spent the rest of the race locked in a thrilling seven-rider battle for sixth position.

"I got a great start and was able to lead the second group for a while until a couple of guys came past and I lost my rhythm a bit," recalled Nicky. "I made a little mistake under braking on the back straight, ran wide and lost a lot of time but I fought back and got in with the group again.

"I was having great fun but unfortunately the left handlebar came kind of loose about halfway through the race and cost me a lot of time - that's when a lot of the guys got past me. I know I'm coming out with a lot of excuses this year but a loose handlebar at that speed is pretty scary!

"The guys are looking at how it happened. Anyway, man it was a hard battle. I know we were only fighting for fifth or sixth but it felt like there was a title on the line out there!" he smiled.

"Big respect to everybody in the group though. Elias made a big mistake but everybody left it all out on the track today and we all shook hands afterwards. It was good to be a part of the battle."

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