Nicky Hayden doesn't believe that Ducati team-mate Valentino Rossi would actually have pulled into the pits during the season-opening Qatar night race.
Rossi endured a torrid start to the new season in Losail, qualifying twelfth and last of the manufacturer bikes. The seven time MotoGP champion then rose to tenth in the early race laps, before a harsh pass by Hector Barbera dropped him back to twelfth.
The Italian eventually crossed the line in tenth and amongst his harsh post-race comments was the claim: “I thought about pulling into the pits but kept going only out of respect for my team members and to collect data.”
But Hayden, who finished as the top Ducati rider in sixth, doesn't believe Rossi would have thrown in the towel.
“He may have thought to give up, but Valentino's a fighter,” said Hayden at Jerez on Thursday. “I'm pretty sure he's not going to give up. He didn't have a great result but he has nine titles for a reason and I'm sure he's going to find a way back to the front soon.”
Hayden, who beat Rossi to the 2006 title in the only final round showdown since the MotoGP class was formed in 2002, finished almost 30-seconds from victory at Losail and admits the pressure is on at Ducati.
“It's not easy on anybody. But pressure is part of it. If it didn't mean nothing there would be no pressure,” said Hayden, who took his most recent podium in last year's damp Jerez race.
“Ducati deserve good results. They've worked extremely hard with this new bike. Even last week at Mugello they went to a lot of work to prepare me a full bike and a team to go testing, and all we had is rain. It's pretty much the way things are going for us at the moment.
“Hopefully we can turn things around soon and put a smile on the Ducati fans' faces.”