Josh Hayes's maiden MotoGP World Championship race went beyond expectations as a combination of speed and tenacity on an unfamiliar bike in difficult conditions was rewarded with an excellent seventh place finish.
Hayes, who was originally planning to ride the Tech 3 Yamaha during post-season testing as a reward for his AMA Superbike win, was instead bumped up to race duties in place of the injured Colin Edwards.
Despite conditions that tested even the experienced riders, Hayes belied his lack of bike and circuit knowledge to hold down a mid-field position throughout the race, before picking up late spots over Loris Capirossi
and Karel Abraham.
Crossing the line seventh, ahead of some accomplished opposition, Hayes was thrilled with to make the most of a 'great opportunity'.
"It was a very exciting and difficult race but certainly an experience I will never forget,” said Hayes, who also had the honour of topping morning warm-up after fitting slick tyres at the end of a damp session. “I had a joke with my crew that I should have packed up at lunch after I was fastest in the warm-up!
“The conditions were really difficult with the rain but riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 with the carbon brakes and Bridgestone tyres was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. The bike felt perfect each time I went out of the pits and it is a real bonus to finish inside the top ten.
“It i s not exactly how I wanted to do it with so many guys going down at the first corner but I am happy with my race and how I rode. It was a successful race for me and I managed to beat a lot of experienced riders, which is something to be proud of. Riding a MotoGP is definitely something I would like to do again in my career.
“I want to send a big thank you to everybody who helped me be here. Yamaha US, GYTR, YES and of course Hervé Poncharal gave me a great opportunity and everybody has been so nice to me. Hopefully people enjoyed seeing me out on track, because I definitely enjoyed being out there."