Nicky Hayden celebrated his 'best race' of the MotoGP season so far at Jerez as the Drive M7 Aspar rider finished 11th on the RCV1000R.

Hayden closed to within a second of Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda RC213V, but a mistake handed the initiative back to the German and he managed to open a gap to consolidate tenth position by over two and a half seconds.

Former premier class champion Hayden has struggled at previous tracks with a lack of top end speed compared to the factory machines but was able to take advantage of a more level playing field at Jerez.

Related Articles

"Even though I haven't ridden any harder than previous weekends, truthfully this was our best race and our weekend; I was seventh this morning and quite consistent," Hayden said.

"We knew this track would be a lot better for us because top speed wouldn't really be a problem and the race really went as good as we could've hoped. In the first couple of laps that second group got away and I started bringing them back a little bit, particularly Bradl, and I got to within a second of him but I made a little mistake and he was gone.

"I was definitely on the limit and made one mistake at turn 4 and entered a bit fast, and he got away," he added. "Once I started getting a little bit close, he started getting a little faster and it would've been nearly been impossible to pass him because off the corner he would've had a big jump.

"It would've been nice to have beaten one of the factory bikes or at least tried to have mixed it up with some of them, but unfortunately that didn't happen, but still for race pace it was definitely our best race."

Hayden selected the extra soft rear Bridgestone rubber available to Open class riders and although he admitted the decision was a 'gamble', the American rider praised the performance of the tyre.

"The tyres worked good and thanks to Bridgestone: we raced the extra soft tyre and even though we had done race distance with it, it wasn't consecutive and it wasn't always in the afternoon, so it was a little bit of a risky move," Hayden said.

"Thanks to them because it would've been real easy for them to say 'no, you've got to run that hard tyres and play it safe'.

"They told us we could do it but it was our risk. For us, we've got to have the edge grip to keep the corner speed up to make the lap time and the tyre worked really good and was really consistent.

"It was fun this week to be close to the front group and it's unfortunate we've got to wait to another track like Assen so we can mix it up for them, but overall we're somewhat satisfied with the race."