Unlike at Indianapolis a week earlier, Nicky Hayden
resisted the temptation to put in a 'touchy' last-gasp pass on Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso
The pair had clashed at the final corner in Indy, allowing Bradley Smith to pass them both for eighth.
This time it was for seventh place, with Dovizioso taking the flag just 0.339s in front of Hayden.
“Dovi got away from me in the beginning, but I was able to bring him back and race with him a bit. He was right in front of me at the end, but there was really nowhere to put in a clean pass without making it touchy,” said Hayden. “He rode a great race and covered all the lines the last couple laps.
“The bike was definitely better in the warm-up, and then in the race, I felt the best over the bumps that I have all weekend. I did the sighting lap on the hard front tyre, but I switched to the soft on the grid. It was a bit of a gamble, but it turned out to be the right choice.”
Hayden was the only manufacturer rider to race the soft front.
Dovizioso crossed the line 35 second behind the Honda of race winner Marc Marquez,
“For what we could expect today, I'm pretty pleased because I was able to have a consistent pace, and I managed to get under 1'58” at the end of the race,” said the Italian. “I did the whole race in front of Nicky; I pushed my hardest, and I didn't make many mistakes. I'm happy with my performance, but of course the gap is too much; 35 seconds is really a lot.”
Ducati Corse general manager Bernhard Gobmeier admitted that much needed progress with the Desmosedici is proving elusive.
“It was a difficult weekend for us again because we had the same problems as last week at Indianapolis,” he said. “Both of our riders did a very good job, and they gave their best efforts, but we're aware that despite the little improvements we've made so far, we still have a long way to go in improving the GP13.
“Obviously, more technical steps will be necessary to bring us closer to the second group. We'll also continue with our intense testing program. We have some new parts to try as we work to improve the bike's behaviour.”