Nicky Hayden was hit by another rider on the first lap of a grand prix for the third time in 2009, at the start of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

After being brought down by Yuki Takahashi at Motegi, then Alex de Angelis at Misano, it was world championship contender Jorge Lorenzo who hit the back of the American in Australia.

Unlike the two previous occasions, Hayden at least stayed on two-wheels and was able to rejoin the race - but with so much time lost and his factory Ducati damaged he could only manage 15th and last.

"I got probably the best start I have had all season but unfortunately it proved to be my downfall!" said Nicky. "I'm not sure what happened to Jorge - I saw he got a bad start as I passed him, then the next thing I know I felt a really hard impact. It was so hard it tore both our bikes up and obviously he couldn't keep his upright.

"Thankfully I did and I got back on track but the thing was so damaged I was just riding around. I considered coming in to conserve the engine but there was always the chance it might rain and give us the opportunity to swap bikes so we stayed out there and tried to stay out of harm's way.

"I'm disappointed because I felt we had a chance to do something here and apart from anything I was excited to race here because it's always so much fun.

"Anyway, I can't blame Jorge because he is fighting for the championship, he obviously didn't mean it and I know it is not his style. The good thing is that I didn't get hurt, which could have easily happened in that corner, and now we go to Malaysia and try to get back in the thick end of the points."

"Nicky has had such an unlucky season," lamented Ducati MotoGP project director Livio Suppo. "He got a fantastic start but this is the third time this season that he has been involved in an incident that wasn't his fault.

"It's a shame because without them he would no doubt be in the top ten in the championship. He deserves at least that because the improvements in the bike are also down to him. It is a disappointing end to the weekend for Nicky but we know he has the character to be back fighting in the next two rounds."

Hayden remains 14th in the world championship, although only 19 points from seventh with two rounds to go.

Team-mate Casey Stoner won the race.