Nicky Hayden's hopes of challenging for a home podium in Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix ended when his left knee slider was ripped off early in the race.

Being unable to use his knee for balance on such a slick track was a major disadvantage, and the distraction of having the partially attached slider flapping around for the rest of the race didn't help either.

Hayden had held his third place start during the opening lap, but dropped back to seventh by lap six. The American was elevated to sixth, where he finished, after Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner crashed out on lap eight.

"I still can't believe what happened - I am so disappointed," said Nicky. "I lost the front slightly on the third lap and caught my left knee on a drain cover on one of the kerbs, right where the knee slider attaches to the velcro. It just about ripped me off of the bike.

"At first, I felt a sharp pain, obviously, and then I really didn't notice it until the end. It doesn't feel great, but I don't think I injured it.

"There are so many left-hand corners here and from that point on I had to take it really steady, I couldn't push anywhere and finished up with a huge hole in my leathers. I am incredibly disappointed because we had to the pace to put in a performance today.

"I haven't had this problem happen to me since I've been with Alpinestars. If it would have been the right side, maybe I could have been OK. I mean, at this level you can't have anything go wrong.

"Dani was so strong today. I knew he was going to be tough. But, I'm quite confident I could have fought for the podium. I was right there. I was fifth Friday, third Saturday. We were in a position we could have fought for the podium."

"What happened to Nicky is really incredible but he did brilliantly to finish the race in that situation and finish it so well," said team manager Vittoriano Guareschi. "I am gutted for him because he was in competitive shape and missed out on a possible podium."

Team-mate Casey Stoner, who crashed out of the race, lost a knee slider in a similar incident earlier in the weekend.

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