Just two weeks after a morale sapping finish outside of the points in Jerez, Nicky Hayden posted his best MotoGP result of 2015 at Le Mans and finished as the top 'Open' rider to boot.

Monday's post-race test at Jerez allowed Hayden to experiment with wheelbase and front fork settings that gave him a better feeling in Le Mans' numerous heavy-braking zones.

Starting from a season best 14th on the grid, Hayden battled with Danilo Petrucci early on for ninth before Maverick Vi?ales came by on lap 18 to push him just outside the top ten.

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"Of course it's nice to win the 'Open' class but actually I'm more happy to be fighting with the 'Factory' guys," said Hayden. "That excites me more. Today I was in front of Vi?ales for a while and I was fighting with Petrucci.

"The team did a really good job this week, especially before qualifying. I'm just happier because I felt good on the bike. It's not that I could ride harder than I've ridden in other races, just more that there was more feedback and more how I wanted. We need to enjoy it and try to keep building on it and get closer. It's nice to be happy on Sunday after the race!"

Hayden revealed that a potential sensor problem began to cause problems when engaged in second gear the lap Vi?ales passed, meaning any hopes of fighting the Spaniard for tenth were over.

"I had a little problem the lap that Vi?ales passed me. Maybe it was a sensor problem and in second gear the bike started to react strangely in a couple of places. I'm not really sure, they haven't figured out what's happened just yet. But it gave me a strange feeling and Vi?ales passed me and I just thought about finishing at that point. We got a few points and my best result.

"The track did change different to what we had seen all week. It gave some problems in turn four. I noticed some guys crashing there and I was having some more problems with the front. I was loading the front tyre a bit into there. Not a lot changed. We were close to racing the harder tyre but unless we had raced it in hot conditions I wouldn't know if it would be a good choice or not."

Although the Aspar Honda team didn't have anything new to test in Jerez two weeks before, Hayden was pleased with the time spent experimenting with the set-up of his 'Open' Honda.

"We changed some wheelbase stuff. Not big changes but some stuff we don't always try on the weekend. Also some stuff like some different fork settings that allowed me to brake better in the race in the first few laps, fighting. That test was definitely useful."

With Aspar Moto3 rider Francesco Bagnaia scoring a maiden podium in Moto3 and team-mate Eugene Laverty racking up his first points of the year after lunchtime, Hayden's result capped off a good day for the Aspar team. It was, he said, just rewards for their continued efforts.

"The team certainly deserves it. We know it's not been an easy situation and I'm really thankful to the team. The guys have worked really hard. As you know the guys lost a sponsor which wasn't great. We still continue on and luckily we have a good boss that can keep things in order. Luckily this sport is up and down so everybody deserves this and hopefully we can build on it and keep going."


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otaged after 2006. He left for Ducati in 2008 at which point, the Honda came good. He left Ducati two years ago, at which point, the Ducati has no come good. He'll be out of GP after this year, if he doesn't get renewed, at which point, the spec ECU might bring the Honda on par.

So, Hayden is in a precarious position of not coming back to GP. Even so, there might be hope. Redding is WOEFULLY underperforming on the Honda. When deciding who would get the remaining satellite Honda, it was between Redding and Hayden. Redding won out because he had the sponsors. Honda might be willing to bankroll one more year for Hayden in GP, if it means that Hayden hops over to WSBK on a V4 powered Honda. Because, let's face it... Guintoli sucks and Vandermark, while valiant, is no Johnny Rea on the Honda.

I agree with one of the comments above. The RC213V package Hayden is on is not a terrible package. After all, it is the same machine that Marquez won the championship on last year. The only difference is that it's not got the seamless shift gearbox. The absence of the gearbox can't be the only explanation for the gap to the front. After all, even with a seamless gearbox, the Ducati wasn't lighting up the timesheets.

The biggest difference between Hayden's Honda and the satellite machine is the ECU. As someone said above, the ECU is being developed with the help of Ducati. Even so, the ECU is quite limited in its parameters. Hayden also doesn't have the benefit of HRC's technicians, except for one test. It is important to have that expertise. The Aspar team is learning the bike just as much as Hayden is.

That said, there are problems: this is the last year of his contract, so even if in 2016, the new ECU takes effect, he might not be around to enjoy it. Hayden's career after being sab