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Hayden finally rewarded for hard work.

The US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca was arguably a make or break moment for home star Nicky Hayden, who came into the event with a best finish of eighth from his first seven races as a factory Ducati rider.

After six years at Honda, Hayden - like Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi before him - has struggled to harness the Desmosedici, a machine that has achieved stunning success in the hands of Casey Stoner but little in the hands of anyone else.

The Australian has won 18 races since the start of 2007, including the first 800cc world championship, while all other Ducati riders have a combined total of one victory, by Capirossi in a wet/dry race at Motegi.

Hayden has won the US GP twice since 2005 and another weekend without real reward, at a track he knows so well, would have been a major blow - and he began to fear the worst after a disappointing 14th in Friday practice.

"The thought of not doing well at my home track literally had me sick to my stomach Friday," he confessed.

But the Kentuckian rebounded in style with eighth in Saturday's qualifying session, which marked the best qualifying performance by Stoner's team-mate since Capirossi was eighth on the grid for the final race of 2007.

Hayden then gained one place on the opening lap, which became sixth when his Repsol Honda replacement Andrea Dovizioso crashed out. But Hayden was boxed in behind Gresini Honda's Toni Elias, while the race leaders pulled away. The 69 finally got past Elias for fifth place on lap eight.

"I wish I could have got by Toni [Elias] sooner and got in that front group. I think I could have moved up," he said.

With the leaders out of touch, Hayden spent the rest of the race battling to keep Elias at bay, and ignoring warning lights from the dash of his Ducati.

"I basically ran what I qualified in for 32 laps I wasn't going to slow down and kept pushing and finally it [the instrumentation warning] gave up and went off," he revealed. "Riding this bike for 32 laps is a lot different than the Honda I had before. I was at my limit for the 45 minutes of the race.

"I don't really have a home track advantage any more. These guys aren't beginners."

A clearly relieved Hayden took the chequered flag as the top American rider, and just one place behind Stoner, whose physical condition saw him drop out of the podium fight during the second half of the race.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Hayden, U.S. MotoGP 2009
`Go Nicky` Hayden sign on starting grid, French MotoGP 2017
`Stay Strong Nicky` Hayden sticker on Marquez`s bike, French MotoGP 2017
`Stay Strong Nicky` Hayden sticker on Marquez`s bike, French MotoGP 2017
`Stay Strong Nicky` Hayden sticker on Marquez`s bike, French MotoGP 2017
`Stay Strong Nicky` Hayden sticker on Pedrosa`s bike, French MotoGP 2017
Stoner, French MotoGP 2017
Stoner, Tardozzi, French MotoGP 2017
Stoner, French MotoGP 2017
Sasaki with Hayden`s number, French Moto3 2017
Miller with Hayden`s number on his helmet, French MotoGP 2017
Miller with Hayden`s number on his helmet, French MotoGP 2017
Miller with Hayden`s number on his helmet, French MotoGP 2017
`Thinking of you Nicky` Hayden sign, French MotoGP 2017
Pol Espargaro, Spanish MotoGP 2017
Pedrosa, Dovizioso, Folger Spanish MotoGP 2017
KTM mechanic`s pit lane helmets, Grand Prix Of The Americas 2017
Equipment cases, load in, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2017.

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Racer-x - Unregistered

July 07, 2009 8:29 PM

Kenlucky kid and Yank Spanker or whatever your name is. Are you guys by any chance French? Because you two sound like the same anti American haters that Lashed out at Lance Armstrong for so many years. Nicky Hayden is the greatest MotoGP racer of the 990cc MotoGP Era!!! :) Live with it you constipated French ****s!

bill - Unregistered

July 06, 2009 10:43 PM

HRC did this while Nicky was in position to challenge for the title. Nicky was still professional and said that hopefully they won't test such drastic changes or new parts on a race weekend again. His teammate wrecks him and everyone thought the title was handed to Rossi. In the final round Rossi qualified better and Hayden got a rocket start and brushed Rossi as he went by to turn 1. Rossi was chasing Nicky and made a rare mistake similar to what happened when Barros got a 211 and outbraked him a few times at the end of 02. Rossi crashed and gave Nicky the title that at that time was his to lose. hayden did what he had to, despite all of the crap he had to deal with that season. CLASS ACT!

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