Marc VDS team manager Michael Bartholemy has explained why he had his sights set on Nicky Hayden, to replace the injured Jack Miller, this weekend at Aragon.
Hayden - the 2006 MotoGP champion, now competing for Honda in World Superbike - had been on standby to replace Miller at Silverstone, before the Australian was declared fit at the last moment.
Miller suffered back and hand injuries in Austria and, while the vertebra fracture initially kept him on the sidelines, it was the hand fracture that forced him to withdraw from the recent Misano round.
The Assen winner now has his hand in a cast to ensure he is fit for the flyaway races that follow Aragon, including his home Phillip Island round.
"Before Silverstone I contacted Nicky's brother. And for me it was always clear if we needed a replacement, it was only him," Bartholemy explained. "There were some other names on the table from Honda, or from other people, but in the end we run the team and I think we can still decide who rides out bike and for me it was always clear.
"I wanted to have Nicky because, for me, the human side is also very important in racing. We never worked together before, but for me he was always this nice guy in the paddock and I have a quite good relation with his brother and also his younger brother raced for me in MotoGP in 2007 [at Kawasaki]. So it's a nice history also.
"Sure Silverstone was a little bit complicated because Jack was pushing hard to go on the bike and the situation was not as clear as now. I was disappointed for [Hayden] because he went all the way [to Silverstone] in the end for nothing. But then when Jack called me on the Tuesday after Misano, it was clear that he needed to put the cast on the arm. I said 'okay, it is now a 100% deal'. So I'm happy that Nicky is here and I look forward to the weekend."
While Hayden played down the amount of feedback he can provide in just three days on the bike, Bartholemy feels the American can help solve some issues faced by his full-time riders.
"For us, let's say the biggest headache as a satellite team with two young riders is always this thing, where you are sometimes a little bit unsure about your package. Because Jack is in first year with a factory bike, Tito is in his first year in MotoGP," Bartholemy said.
"So the comments from the riders are many times the same, but also sometimes you are a little bit, let's say, in a circle. You try to help but you're not always found the 100% compromise to make maybe the best package.
"Somebody like [Hayden] has a huge experience. He has ridden many bikes, including Superbike this year. For me, I hope he enjoys the three days here and in the end if we can learn something from it, or we can improve our way maybe for the next race, this is actually the goal.
"This is why also I was pushing also for him to be on the bike and not some others that also ride for Honda."
Asked if the goal was to explicitly help Rabat and Miller, and give the team a direction, Bartolemy replied: "Sure, yes."
For that same reason, Marc VDS felt Hayden was a better option than the likes of young WorldSBK team-mate Michael van der Mark.
"I must say that Laurence [VDM's manager] came to speak to me a while ago, but I think it is like a 'one shot'. Alex Lowes [standing in at Tech 3] is different; they know it will take some time [for Bradley Smith to return] - maybe three or four races - but with Nicky it was maybe two races maximum and then Jack will be back.
"I think the decision to take Hayden over someone who has never ridden a MotoGP bike was much more clever."
Bartholemy admitted it had been very difficult to persuade Miller to step down at Brno, but by race day at Misano the 21-year-old agreed that the hand needed rest if it was to heal.
"Jack is so strong in his character and always wants to ride the bike. We had to try to make him understand that it is dangerous, or that he is not fully fit. I think at one moment in Brno he understood. We had many, many discussions. But then when Crutchlow won the race, f**k, he gave me a hard time," Bartholemy said.
"In the end we had some more talking and in Misano we spent some time together and he was more and more understanding that the body sometimes needs time to recover. You cannot heal in one week and the bone [in his hand] was always breaking again. In Friday morning practice it was always okay, but then in the second practice this fracture was coming back.
"Then on the Tuesday after Misano when he called me from Barcelona, he said 'I am happy that I will take this time off'. It is basically three and a half weeks from when he saw the doctors until we go to Japan. Also some doctors said that the back injury normally needs 40-60 days to be again 100%.
"This 60 days we also have until Japan so I'm happy for this; not to have this feeling in my stomach - if he crashes again, you never know how it will end. In our sport always something it can happen, but I would like to take the less risk possible."
By Peter McLaren