By Stephen English
It looks unlikely that the home crowd will have much to cheer about after Sunday's US MotoGP with Nicky Hayden
qualifying as the leading American in tenth on the grid.
However Hayden, a two time Laguna Seca race winner, does have experience of completing a race distance on the soft rear tyre and will be giving his all during what will be his final US GP appearance as a factory Ducati rider.
"It's a long way from being over, it's a 32 lap race so we'll try and recover as best as we can," said Hayden. "This morning I had a used tyre from yesterday and I've done a race distance on it and there wasn't a problem.
“It's strange because last year everyone raced the hard [rear] tyre and this year we've hardly used it. I haven't seen a big drop off in tyre grip. I don't expect it be as bad as Barcelona."
Turning to the plight of injured title contenders Jorge Lorenzo
and Dani Pedrosa, who will start sixth and seventh, Hayden was asked if he expects them to struggle physically as the race wears on.
"Dani and Jorge will be pretty strong, there's a world championship on the line so they'll find something extra. You can see what it means to them by racing here,” he said.
The 2006 world champion, team-mate to Pedrosa at Honda during his own title winning season, added:
"Collarbones are never easy [injuries] because once you break them they break easier. The collarbone isn't really a bone you need, I've broken mine, but once you break them they get weaker and weaker-look at Sete [Gibernau] those injuries ended his career.
“Dani's tougher than he gets credit for. He's come back from a lot of injuries and that takes a toll on you. I think he deserves a bit more credit, it's not easy coming back especially for him being a small guy."